Adult Beginner Progress

March 24, 2017 at 11:20 PM · I've been playing for three years. I went up to the middle of Suzuki Book 5, and recently I started to play solo Bach (third double from Partita 1, and allemande from Partita 2). I thought my progress was ok until I found this woman who plays Chopin at one year and three months, and Tchaikovsky at one year and five months. Oh, and no one-on-one classes, who needs that? Check also her Meditaion and allemande.


March 25, 2017 at 12:48 AM · Progress depends on a multitude of factors including your teacher's approach, personal learning style, and more. Your progress seems great.

March 25, 2017 at 05:29 AM · Dexter, it also not only depends on the resources you use (teacher, youtube etc.), buz also on what you might call the paedagogic approach. I don't think the person on the video really got the basics done that she'd need to play what she's playing, so I'd guess her paedagogic approach is mainly "missing". My teacher would never get me along with what I've heard. He'd say something like, well, nice, but now let's move back to work... And give me some less advances pieces and etudes to work on. I'd say this lady sounds like me when I try to play something too high above my level what I have to train like some circus artistry... Nothing you can solidly build on.

Don't worry, take your time, and trust your teacher and yourself.

March 25, 2017 at 06:24 AM · Dexter, surely you don't envy the person who's playing Chopin on a violin this badly? Both her bow arm and her intonation leave a lot to be desired, which is only natural if you've just started. Noone can be expected to perform tough music (and of course Chopin is not even written for the violin!) well after fifteen months.

The problem (if that's what it is) with adult learners is, they want to play beautiful music. That is their motivation. And yet chances are it's going to take years before you even remotely get there. And chances are you'll never get close to the Bach Chaconne.

The trick is finding exercise material that helps your technique along and still sounds tuneful. I recommend Hans Sitt (op 32) and Wohlfahrt (op 45).

And tell Tchaikovsky the news.

March 25, 2017 at 10:36 AM · "And chances are you'll never get close to the Bach Chaconne."

That is one reason most people don't start. I remember there was a list, somewhere else in this forum, of pieces that most adults learners will never be able to play.


I watched the Chopin performance, and her other Bach ( ).

I didn't like the first. The second is somewhat ok.

It's alright for her level, but nothing to envy. There is no merit in playing a piece if it's played out of tune with with barely any bow control.

I remember that in other forum I found a guy who posted a video of him playing Caprice 24 after 4 months of playing. Nothing remarkable since needless to say, it was not very good. There is more in any pice than plucking notes close than where they should land.

March 25, 2017 at 10:59 AM · Listen at 0.50

You said it, Dexter: Who needs that?

March 25, 2017 at 12:54 PM · I only watched about 90 seconds of her Tchaikovsky (the 2nd movement of the concerto), but it's quite impressive for an adult beginner without a teacher. Just being able to get the correct notes, by and large in tune, is quite a feat.

March 25, 2017 at 01:42 PM · If the point of playing were to compare oneself to others, why would you even bother to start? Did you enjoy listening to this woman? Great! Did you have fun playing today? Even better. I wish you a wonderful time with your violin. As an adult beginner I am making progress that nobody would label amazing, but boy, am I having a ball!

March 25, 2017 at 04:58 PM · Not to try to discredit the person in the video, but keep in mind there is nothing to prove she has only been playing for X amount of time.

March 25, 2017 at 05:52 PM · I don't think the playing is so impressive as to not be credible given the amount of time she claims to have been playing. Adult beginners, just like kids, progress at a wide range of paces.

March 25, 2017 at 06:03 PM · Personally I find much more fulfillment and motivation from focusing on what I can do. I don't see much point in attempting to play something well out of my reach when it will only slow my progress just to play something beautiful rather distastefully. Everyone has different interests and goals though.

March 25, 2017 at 06:19 PM · Most kids under 6 dont sound that good (tone and intonation). Are there kids playing her pieces at her level after a year and a half of classes? I haven't seen that on YouTube.

March 25, 2017 at 06:29 PM · Keep in mind, even as an "Adult beginner," she may have played previously as a child.

March 25, 2017 at 06:42 PM · Since I'm in my 3rd year of violin study as well, I can relate to wanting to know what type of progess one is making. I'm also starting to learn a movement in Bach Partita 2. I wouldn't call my playing remotely advanced, but I am having fun. Dexter, I bet you sound alot better then I, if that makes you feel better.

Its more fair to compare yourself to another person in hours practiced.

I'm not the best at gaudgeing age, but the women in the video seems young enough she might have alot of free time to play.

An adult out of college and entering the working population is different then a 43 Mom with 3 kids (and all thier activities), a husband (he likes a home cooked dinner), a house (mowing the lawn takes too much time), and a part-time job (gotta earn some bread while the kids are in school). Time management is simply different during the various decades of your life.

March 25, 2017 at 06:56 PM · @Dexter Most young children would have teacher's that would keep them on a steady path. There are tons of people who can play above the level displayed in the video after a year or two. Except most of them don't bother with Tchaikovsky.

March 25, 2017 at 07:00 PM · It really comes down to what the goals of the student are. Children probably cannot articulate their goals so they get into a program that tends to take them all in the same direction. Adults can, and should, talk with their teacher about their goals. Like other aspects of life, it is the journey towards the goal that is most important and once accomplished, other goals are added.

I've never done the Bach unaccompanied works, I just don't have the desire, or the need. I like playing with community orchestras (perpetual second section) as well as teaching the absolute basics to children who would otherwise never get lessons and passing them along to better teachers who give them scholarships based on their skills (I teach great foundational technique.)

40 years after I started this journey with modest goals I'm surprised at where I am today. I don't compare myself with others because their goals and my goals are different and I'm still on the "Unfinished Journey" (a nod to my pedagogical cousin).

March 25, 2017 at 07:54 PM · Okay, so I'm not really comparing myself, but I personally think her progress is really impressive. I don't know what qualifies as an adult prodigy but she is pretty close given that, as she says, she never played the violin before, she is practically self taught, and she only gets to practice 2 to three times a week, one to three hours each time. I'm not saying her playing is flawless either. Can anybody point to three or four similar cases of comparable adult progress without a teacher? Here is Meditation by Tha├»s. Amazing vibrato, shifting etc., at only 18 months.

March 25, 2017 at 08:20 PM · My two cents are:

Anyone van play whatever. It just matter how much time you put in it. And, in all fairness, quality is not really important if you are just having fun. If you are a professional, it's other history...

While i particulary did not enjoy her playing, many people will not even notice that there are one or two notes out of tune.

As an adult beginner, i think that it's perfectly possible to shift, and vibrato after 12 months of learning.

Basically, you just need someone to teach you how to hold the instrument (sometimes not even that). All the rest you can do by ear.

March 26, 2017 at 04:10 PM · I don't feel inclined to either praise or criticize her playing. It is what it is. Here's a video she made of her vibrato progress, which give a bit more information on her development, and happens to mention that she played guitar previously (I'd guess she might have played piano as well just based on the taste for Chopin, but it's no more than a guess).

March 26, 2017 at 04:57 PM · I didn't see a reason to cut down the playing of Dexter's counterpart. I agree with Lydia that for her to be finding the notes to Meditation at 15 months is pretty good.

There are too many factors for you to compare yourself to this person. I gave up long ago the pleasure of feeling jealous because some other violinist plays better than I. There are eight-year-olds that can play circles around me. And it's good that there are!! As for the woman in the videos, you don't know how driven she is to improve, how she practices, how *much* she practices, or (from he links you've chosen) whether she can play anything fast.

Bruno wrote, "Basically, you just need someone to teach you how to hold the instrument (sometimes not even that). All the rest you can do by ear." You can maybe get to a certain point that way, but the individual who can learn to play properly beyond a beginning-to-intermediate level without adept instruction is very very rare.

March 26, 2017 at 10:25 PM · I thought that when I started for my first 4 or so months "solo" that I was "advancing" really quick. As soon as I started taking lessons I began going well beyond where I could ever go alone. Every lesson I get presented things that would have never crossed my mind. I'm betting it's the same for most of us.

March 27, 2017 at 02:43 PM · Dexter, you should consider what would happen if you put a new piece of music in front of the lady in the videos and asked her to sight read. Or, gave her a sonata (say Handel) and asked for her to perform it in a week. I doubt she would excel at either. And that's not to rip on her playing, it's okay for what it is, but she's been putting an exorbitant amount of time into learning a few pieces by rote, which is not the same thing as having the skill to quickly master new music, which is what traditional violin teaching methods are trying to accomplish. So, if you've been studying on the traditional path, comparing yourself to someone on a different path with completely different objectives than you is not going to be fair.

Also, I watched the Thais video, and I bet if you gave her Kreutzer 2 and asked for a fast tempo (say anything over 100), she couldn't do it even after quite a bit of practice--her left-hand position is a mess. Also, no solo Bach without a good hand frame, so she couldn't play the E Major Gavotte & Rondo with all of the finger adjustments without moving the hand around.

In summary, be proud of your progress as you've probably got quite a bit going for you, even if you can't play either of these pieces yet. When you can, you'll probably be able to play lots of other music at a similar difficulty level very quickly, once you get there.

March 28, 2017 at 02:35 AM · Dexter, you have made very fast progress. As someone with exceptional natural talent for learning (the violin especially), the main reason most adult learners either learn slowly or extremely quickly is: the former means not enough time, the latter points to a lack of musical maturity.

You cannot play Tchaikovsky at an artistic level with less than 2 years of practice. I learn extremely quickly and intuitively (my teacher suggested the Beethoven Violin Concerto a few months ago, at my 2.5 years mark), but even I do not expect to play Tchaikovsky without about 3ish years under my belt.

Why? Because every aspect of technique and musicality must be close to full potential to truly phrase the music exactly as you want it, and no less.

So don't worry, you will probably be at the Chaconne in about a year or less at your current rate. :D

March 28, 2017 at 07:16 AM · "I don't know what qualifies as an adult prodigy but she is pretty close given that, as she says, she never played the violin before"

Dexter, she is nowehere near prodigy (and, also, it would really help if people stopped thinking in these terms), her Thais Meditation is excruciatingly bad. The only resemblance between her and a truly gifted kid is she's playing material that extremily gifted kids tend to play to show off.

What she's showing is that she has pretty much no technichal basis and the stuff she's playing (on the vids, that is) will not help her develop that basis, so basically she's headed for a disaster.

As another poster suggested, she probably knows a couple of these pieces by heart and she would most likely fail if confronted with the etudes she needs at this point.

Learning the violin without a proper teacher just doesn't work.

March 28, 2017 at 08:22 AM · hey Kimberly none of my business but teach your husband to cook so that he can take over from time to time (or fix dinner together which is great quality time). at least I suppose he can mow the lawn :-)

about MsPolkaDotz: I must say she does have a clear talent for finding the right notes all over her fingerboard. that is very nice to see.

March 28, 2017 at 12:43 PM · When I arrive at violin lessons usually a duett is waiting for me on the music stand. Its characteristics are: rather unspectacular, not too difficult, quite short, ... and completely unknown to me.

Hence I have to start out by sight reading, listening to my duett partner (my teacher), taking care of intonation and tone and not forgetting about vibrato.

After that I definitely know why I will be taking lessons for years to come.

March 28, 2017 at 05:37 PM · Eva's comment brings back fond memories from the last year of my violin studies around when I was 17 years old. I was going to go to university soon and had lost interest in violin altogether (had no idea at that time I would be back with such a passion 30 years later!) so the final year of violin lessons my teacher and I did not much more than sight reading duo's, mainly Bruni and Viotti. it was fun, just making music, no longer trying to fix things, but making the best of it, I actually learned quite a bit from that period!

March 28, 2017 at 07:01 PM · A.O., your teacher suggested you learn the Beethoven after 2.5 total years of playing the violin?

March 28, 2017 at 07:39 PM · @Lydia

It's a joke.

March 28, 2017 at 07:39 PM ·

March 31, 2017 at 03:12 PM · @Demian: No, I was serious when I said that.

If you could see how quickly I learn, you would be inclined to agree. :)

March 31, 2017 at 03:34 PM · Hi Dexter, Apparently I've been playing a little shorter than you (23 months now), and no doubt not as well as you. I'm just a self-taught (so far) adult learner (who actually had 3 lessons from a great violinist last year) buying sheet music and turning pages every day as I hack them out. No doubt you are "better" at it than I, and no doubt almost anybody else who plays is "better" than me, but I wouldn't trade my experience for anyone else's. I never practice, I just play! We play as a spiritual extension of ourselves, it is the journey not the destination. Never play from ego, never play as a competition, play as part of joy in living.

March 31, 2017 at 05:13 PM · How does one rate their progress? I don't want to get into a "whether or not to compare" discussion, as there's been others, but it's natural for a person (adults specifically) to desire to know how he's progressing in relation to others in a parallel situation.

I know I'm really curious to know what others (aside from my teacher) would think of my progress...

March 31, 2017 at 05:22 PM · A. O. - I'm impressed. Would you mind posting a recording or video?

March 31, 2017 at 06:51 PM · G.A., I "rate" my own progress by comparing myself to how I played a few months ago. For example, a few months ago I bought an easy baroque violin book, which I couldn't play much until I listened to the accompanying CD to get the rhythms. Well, after putting it down a few months and wandering into other books, the other night I opened the book again (without listening to or even remembering the CD) and played that stuff quite nicely (for me, anyway), and was pleasantly surprised by how much better I was at it now than how I remember playing it last time (a few months ago). I didn't expect it and the sensation was great! PROGRESS!

I compare "rating" my musical progress to rating my athletic progress. At the gym, in the magazines, and sometimes in person places where I go, I see men better-built, bigger muscles, more impressive stature, or obviously much stronger, faster, etc. But its not a contest. If it were, I'd quit now and concede defeat. So I only compete against my past self. I strive for improvement against where I've been, really work at it with my eye on a future self who will play better, be healthier, etc. And I take joy when I see improvement.

March 31, 2017 at 08:01 PM · @Irene: Due to money issues, I haven't had lessons for a few months, and currently have no violin (I was practicing on a rental). :(

Once I get started up again, I wouldn't mind posting a few videos of some short pieces (though I only have my phone to record with). :)

I will post the Mozart, I guess at my 3.5 year or so mark, since I would be able to play it at the 3 year mark, but want to actually polish everything before then with some music from my to-play list (because who ever liked sloppy Mozart)?

March 31, 2017 at 11:47 PM · Phones make perfectly good videos. An iPhone is actually perfectly good for casual audio and video, and up until buying a camera recently (mostly for dedicated storage and easy tripod mounting more so than quality), I took all my music videos with one.

A.O., you could just play something unpolished. Experienced players can see what someone is like from that just fine.

March 31, 2017 at 11:49 PM · One more thing: It doesn't make sense to me that a teacher would offer Beethoven before Tchaikovsky, concerto-wise. The Beethoven requires a really refined level of technical precision.

April 1, 2017 at 12:18 AM · @Lydia: Well, Tchaikovsky is not exactly easier, though I do have an easier time with pieces with more bravura, though that is because I use too much bow (to compensate for my not-so great violin's volume), so I need to adjust by playing orchestral dynamics.

My intonation is pretty much exact, so I just need to work out the bow amount (which is too much fro delicate lines at the moment-see above). :D

Please note that I mentioned that I have no violin at the moment, and even if I did, have not touched one for 3 months (I get rusty after a week). :(

April 1, 2017 at 12:37 AM · I'm not sure what you mean by playing orchestral dynamics.

I will note that you can (or rather, should be able to) do delicate lines while using a lot of bow. Indeed, that's the proper way to get a soloistic volume in concertos with transparent textures, like Beethoven.

I can't envision what sequence leads to the Beethoven concerto in 2.5 total years of playing, or even Tchaikovsky after 3. I mean, literally, the sequence of techniques that have to be learned and mastered, laid out in some kind of logical timeline. Could you explain what your sequence has been?

April 1, 2017 at 11:49 PM · @Lydia: Orchestral volume: Playing dynamics as written (p is not mf, ppp is not p).

I can play quietly with lots of bow, but need work on it.

No sequence, I simply have a very adaptable and logic-based way of thinking.

Ex: After practicing chromatic scales with one finger on the G, I automatocally applied it to all intuitive intervals after a bit of practice (3rds, 6ths, octaves, 10ths).

I guess the secret is 2 things:

1- Very analytical observation of a problem, followed by various solutions on the violin until the most efficient one is found (I am very good at isolating issues in a complex problem and coming up with exercises).

This means that a problem is usually solved after about 5-6 tries (permanently, as also applies to technique fixes), then I move on.

2- Mental flexability that allows me to constantly switch bowholds and LH positioning with no ill effect bar a week of adjustment (this one cannot really be taught).

Because of this, my technique is rather odd at this point. I easily play scales in any interval fluidly with perfect intonation, but still need work on things that require consistent drilling, such as vibrato and trill speed, as well as playing in keys with over 2 flats/four sharps. A few solid months should fix these, so please look forward to some shorter pieces to start. :)

PS: It's also true that being very intelligent is not simply quicker learning (for reference, I could have enrolled in a gifted program).

Instead, it seems that you intuitively find the best solution without too much effort, which is extremely useful for learning especially complicated physical movements).

The catch here thus being that if it is not understood clearly, you compensate by overthinking and producing the same via flawed means (which I used to do with both right and left hand technique). :D

April 2, 2017 at 12:15 AM · Dynamics levels are not equivalent to decibel levels. Sound production is different depending on whether you want to blend or whether you want to cut through.

You can play scales in tenths, perfectly in tune, effortlessly?

Here's the reason I ask about sequence: Playing the violin is a whole lot more than being able to hit notes in tune. It's not even just about left-hand agility and facility. There's a huge range of right-hand technique as well as coordination between the hands. There are good reasons why it normally takes many, many years to reach the level of being able to play a major Romantic concerto, much less be able to tackle the Tchaikovsky and Beethoven concertos.

April 2, 2017 at 01:48 AM · Lydia, I do not exaggerate when I describe things to people, if it seems a little unbelievable. Yes, I effortlessly toss off tenths with no problem (I can span a 14th somewhat comfortably sul G and D- flexible hands), but I aleo possess the general facility in both hands (but I need to practice drilled specifics such as vibrato that simply require repetiton for consistency). :)

Also, I need to work on staccato (the one stroke I have much difficulty with, even at slower tempos)... :D

Alternately, spiccatto came very naturally (I guess this one's more useful in actual music)?

That is why I mentioned how I solve problems- All the 'advanced' bowings etc double harmonic passages I learned very easily because you can experiment and thing out the problem.

For issues like playing at speed or trilling faster, thinking enables a solution, but you still need to do the work (hence I need to work on these aspects, they hold me back from combining them into 5hings like the Beethoven). :)

April 2, 2017 at 05:05 AM · Nothing personal, but what you are saying is unbelievable. We need a video.

April 2, 2017 at 05:30 AM · I have to agree with Jason.

All this sounds like a typical case of anonymous internet boasting.

I cannot help but notice O.A. mentioned before he doesn't even own a violin. So maybe this is just air-violin were talking about.

April 2, 2017 at 11:19 AM · As stated above, I was learning on a rental.

Also, I have Aspergers, which means I can learn with extreme efficiency when I put my mind to it.

Please read my posts properly instead of stating that I must be lying.

Frankly, it kind of stings. Just saying...

PS: search for Vernon kirby on here, who is autistic and could play (to hos self-taught standard) The Last Rose of Summer by Ernst after a year.

Second response is his, and the line "I find nothing too difficult with a bit of time and effort" applies really well to whatever things an autistic individual has a knack for (mine are academia, critical thinking and learning musical instruments):

April 2, 2017 at 01:37 PM · Vernon never did post the requested video (it appears that the people who make outlandish claims never do), but he does have some sound clips up, which make it pretty clear that his level of playing is not what he thinks it is.

April 2, 2017 at 01:49 PM · Aspergers is defined as a social disorder not one that necessarily causes extraordinary learning capabilities. Most people that are high on the spectrum are most certainly not savants. A. O. you have to understand that you are bragging about baseless claims that you have no way of proving. Honestly you're are being incessantly arrogant.

April 2, 2017 at 02:34 PM · @Bailey. No, I was simplying stating what holds true for me personally. Why do you feel I am bragging or lying (for me, honesyy is my policy)? I was originally trying to motivate Dexter by explaining how even talent requires practice.

Cue Hassid asking Kreisler if he should play for him: "No, young man. Simply put, I believe you (when you say you can play as well as me).

End of thread please.

April 2, 2017 at 04:41 PM · Let's not get into meaningless disagreements, please. This site is meant to encourage players and discuss ideas.

Thank you!

April 2, 2017 at 04:41 PM ·

April 2, 2017 at 04:41 PM ·

April 2, 2017 at 04:55 PM · If someone can reach 14ths then to hell with just tenths. Let's hear you play fingered tenths.

April 2, 2017 at 05:33 PM · I can with 1-3 on all strings (down to 1/2 position), but 2-4 needs some work (currently spans about a 9th). :)

April 2, 2017 at 05:51 PM · A.O. In what city are you located? If NYC, I have a spare violin to lend out. Free, or maybe in exchange for a few lessons per month. I can also do a video that you can post for all the incredulous souls.

April 2, 2017 at 09:20 PM · He's in Toronto. Instruments can be borrowed from the public library here:

April 2, 2017 at 09:53 PM · The beauty of playing a musical instrument is that what people hear is what you play. Claims and incredulity arise on this forum all the time, but I don't understand the point of either one. The way I see it, if I haven't heard it, I don't care one way or the other about someone's claim. It at least saves me the energy of caring about hypotheticals, and having to take responsibility for dealing with someone's ego. My profile links to videos of me playing, which can be as impressive or unimpressive as people take them as, but at least that gives anyone some context for any opinions I happen to share here. I always do hope that when people make big claims about their playing, they actually do play as well as they say ;-)

April 3, 2017 at 12:08 AM · Wow, that's a pretty awesome library service!

I care about a player's background and playing level when they're offering advice, especially when they're claiming that something should be easy. I also think that on threads like this one, which are specifically about progress, that casting a realistic lens on people's progress is valuable and important.

Back to the topic at hand: I think that building good fundamentals in a logical, progressive fashion is really important for becoming an excellent classical player. This holds true for adult beginners as well, at least insofar as they're interested in playing chamber music, in orchestras, or doing intermediate-and-beyond solo literature. People learn fundamentals at a different rate. To less experienced listeners looking at a beginner's progress, they may see something well-developed -- for instance, the ability to play in high positions -- and end up assuming that the player has more broadly well-developed technique, which may not be the case.

April 3, 2017 at 12:12 AM · It's not how fast you go through the Suzuki books. It's whether you are learning to play the violin properly. Someday I will post video of my playing. I seriously doubt very many people will be impressed. :(

April 3, 2017 at 10:46 AM · I seriously┬ádoubt I'm learning to "play the violin properly." Sometimes I worry about it but my finances are so desperate that lessons are out of the question. So every day I probably just make bad habits worse, but I do try to get better sound and better control of my bow according to intuition and feel and ear.

April 3, 2017 at 06:23 PM · A. O. you can not keep making baseless claims like this. It's pure and utter arrogance. You aren't providing examples for the benefit of the topic, you're just trying to show yourself off as some form of a self proclaimed prodigy. If you really want to put the thread to rest, just post a video of your playing. Your story that you have no violin at the moment seems oddly convenient, whether true or untrue.

April 3, 2017 at 10:25 PM · Making a claim is not arrogance. I have been told the same by a former and well-known soloist. Simply calling it arrogant because I cannot demonstrate is ridiculous.

My initial point of explanation was to put Dexter at ease and offer encouragment, before everybody started throwing challenges at me. I will not respond any further, so please stop posting here.

April 4, 2017 at 05:29 AM · I'll quote Lydia on this: "I care about a player's background and playing level when they're offering advice, especially when they're claiming that something should be easy. I also think that on threads like this one, which are specifically about progress, that casting a realistic lens on people's progress is valuable and important."

There is potential harm in spreading these "I'm making terrific progress all by myself because I have these magic fingers" stories. They are encouring the gullible to drop technical exercises and go for the Tchaikovsky straight away.

One cannot help but notice some people who can barely play the violin themselves are setting themselves up as advisor to young folks.

Learning to play the violin properly is an antidote to vanity, because it's really hard. This in itself is a reward, in my view.

April 4, 2017 at 02:43 PM · "Learning to play the violin properly is an antidote to vanity, because it's really hard."

Very well said. I constantly think of my hard work, failures, and eventually successes in playing the violin while doing things in my professional life and it helps me to have perspective, humility, discipline.

April 5, 2017 at 01:10 AM · On the other hand, I get the impression that many people take up the violin just because it is difficult -- perhaps so they can say to themselves and others "look at me, I'm doing something that's really hard, so I must be good/smart/talented/etc." I think that's sad -- to tie up your ego with an activity that's almost certainly futile in that respect. I don't need violin to either crush or boost my ego -- it'll look after itself quite well on its own, thank you. But to make music.. that's the reward which is worth having and therefore the struggle.

April 5, 2017 at 02:22 AM · Anyone who has struggled with the instrument in any serious way can easily determine the validity of A.O.'s claim. I don't see the need to bust his bubble though....

April 5, 2017 at 08:15 AM · It's certainly the most difficult instrument I've ever tried to learn. I wish I'd took it up as a kid rather than the trumpet (I was sort of just given it and played in the school band). I took up violin in my early 30's, and even with the slight advantage of being involved with playing music all of my life and fairly regular practise (I work from home), it is still taking me years to get anywhere.

My first teacher didn't help, charming though she was, but that's another story. For some reason I've always been drawn to the violin, and I will keep trying. Despite what people say I think it is good to aim high (as soon as you think you can't, then you never will), but my main aim is to just be able to make a nice sound, and play in a good amateur orchestra and/or a little band.

I am progressing more quickly now I have a more attentive teacher, and now I've worked out some technical issues (I think!), but there's still a lot to do before I'd even attempt to play anywhere other than my practise room, and even then preferably while my neighbour is out! I use a mute if anyone has the slightest chance of hearing me..

So if anyone can pick it up in just a couple of years, and is not deluding themselves, well my hat is off to you :-)

April 6, 2017 at 04:08 PM · I wouldn't worry about it too much. Everybody has a different innate skill level, has a different amount of time to devote to practice, focuses on different things in their playing, etc...

I'm an adult beginner with the viola (granted with a conservatory performance degree in a non-string instrument). I'm playing a good 3-4 hours a day x 5 days a week and have been at it for 4ish months now. I spent about a week per Suzuki book at the beginning and then moved on to Sevciks for a couple months once I hit book 5. I just finished learning the Hoffmeister and I'm actually working on the Hindemith Viola Sonata at the moment. Most people think that is unheard of after 4ish months, but one thing to keep in mind is that I'm not spending any time at all developing general musicianship, I'm just shedding out all the technical stuff so my left hand can keep up with what's going on in my brain ... and it's not like I didn't already have a good deal of dexterity to begin with.

I just say keep at it and keep making incremental goals for yourself. Soon enough you'll be playing all kinds of new stuff and crossing it off your list!

If you're frustrated with your progress, maybe assess how much you're practicing, what your goals are, and how much your teacher is driving you.

April 6, 2017 at 05:09 PM · Here probably more of an average joe story:

Played when I was a kid, did not practice, made it to Rieding B minor

Started again in my 40ties because my daughter wanted to quit but her contract with the music school was still valid for annother 6 month. I thought, so what, and went instead of her..... and got really hooked up. I am still surprised.

2,5 years later: I did Vivaldi double, now starting Vivaldi A minor 3rd movement (after doing 1st and 2nd) and working on Elgar, Chanson de Matin (with my teacher playing the piano).

And the usual etudes and technical stuff.

And all of this is still in the polishing process and probably will be so for several month to come, perhaps years I don't know. But it's really fun.

April 6, 2017 at 06:47 PM · Anne, it is Asperger's Syndtome, not asburger. Is it possible that Mozart had it? A few famous people have admitted or are reputed to have Asperger's, but no musicians that I know of.

April 6, 2017 at 06:50 PM · I hope A.O. Is right when he predicts I'll be playing Chaconne in about a year.

April 6, 2017 at 11:18 PM · I said I would not respond, but I must comment on this.

@Dexter: Yes, if you keep progressing fast as you have/faster (since string players learn faster as skill builds), you should be thereabouts. :)

@Anne: Thank you for belief in place of shooting me down.

I should explain about the playing: My teacher probably suggested Beethoven because he was playing to my strengths (exact intonation and clean playing with extreme dynamic control- with the right bow, of course:).

On the flipside, I need to practice chordal passages because my fingers trip up, which is why he said that I am almost ready to play Legende by Wieniawski, but not quite yet. :)

PS: I woumd hazard a guess that most rather high-functioning people with Aspergers tend to either be reclusive, hyper, or a mix of the two depending on context.

It's also true that the extreme ability tends to not extend to all areas.

For example, in terms or music, I can sing perfectly in-tune after I hear it, but have trouble with memorizing music when playing it (though I have the whole piece memorized in my head very quickly). It tends to frustrate my teacher, and me, since I play only with complete personal touch when I have a piece fully memorized. :D

April 7, 2017 at 12:20 AM · I can't imagine a student being able to tackle the Beethoven before being ready to play the Legende.

April 7, 2017 at 02:53 AM · If your fingers trip up on Legende why wouldn't they trip up on the Beethoven?

Hate to break it to anyone, but most of us here on this forum are probably progressing painfully averagely relative to the effort we put in, regardless of what we think. The likelihood that someone is a musical savant, or has innate capabilities that allow for supreme perfection all the time is so terribly statistically low that it doesn't make much sense to discuss it.

Not sure what the infatuation is with taking short cuts to reach absurd goals is, but it just doesn't sound like something that pays off in the end.

April 7, 2017 at 06:12 AM · "PS: I would hazard a guess that most rather high-functioning people with Aspergers tend to either be reclusive, hyper, or a mix of the two depending on context."

The claims you're making about your violin prowess definitely sound hyper, but that's up to you. No one gets hurt if you say you're a near-prodigy.

What worries me, and I believe some others too, is that (in a similar hyper way) you're dispensing advice left, right and center, of the "you can do anything! in just five minutes!" variety. And that's the kind of advice that's not really helping people.

If you're saying the talent you claim comes with your Asperger, then please consider first, when you're saying "do like me! you can skip to the front of the technical line, too!" whether the people you're telling this have Asperger, too.

Because if they don't, maybe they're not as "high-functioning" as you think you are.

April 7, 2017 at 12:11 PM · @Herman: Not to imply anything, but was that last statement you claiming that I'm stupid?

Why is my advice to Roger about 5 mins. a day of stretching to give good flexibility exaggerated?

It's just stretching, which shouldn't take very long any way. I never said it would make him learn faster on anything. Honestly...

Also, hyper or reclusive refers to physical behaviour, not necessarily other types.

@Lydia: I'm not sure what my teacher was thinking either, but I can tell that I trip much more over chord passages than simply fast notes, so maybe that's why. :)

April 7, 2017 at 07:30 PM · I'm very incredulous of Beethoven after 2.5 years.

That seems prodigious, unless you played when you were younger and these 2.5 years have been added to those younger years of playing. Or, perhaps if you mastered a different instrument before; that could give you a time advantage.

How many hours a day were you practicing?

I'd be interested in hearing you play something: it doesn't have to be Beethoven or anything fancy. Just for general quality analysis.

April 7, 2017 at 08:33 PM · I did not play prior to, or any other instrument (except ocarina, but none of the skills transferred over, and I couldn't read sheet music properly back then).

I practiced fairly little, and even now my longest practice never exceeds about 3 hours.

But, as Auer said, "Practice with your fingers and it may take all day. Practice with your mind, and much can be accomplishef in an hour and a half".

I agree with this. Especially for someone like me, where my Aspergers gives me very intuitive learning but difficulty focusing, it works best to play a passage very slowly and take mental notes about every problem.

I then solve each individual problem before putting it together.

One other aspect is experimentation, which is actually the best way to learn (sadly neglected). It's how people learn in every other field, but we seem to be too tied to methods and too afraid to make any m8stakes/try unorthodox methods. :D

Do I want to discover the best way to play a passage sospirando?

I did, so I spent 10 minutes playing around with bow speed and sound point.

You know what? It sticks very well, takes minimal time, and is very consistent. The more mistakes you make like so, the more you learn (rather quickly). :)

April 7, 2017 at 08:35 PM · "Simply calling it arrogant because I cannot demonstrate is ridiculous." The arrogance stems not from the claim itself, but from insisting that readers with a normal scope of knowledge and experience must believe what seems unbelievable just because you said so.

"Obama wiretapped my residence."

April 8, 2017 at 05:20 AM · The way you use your Aspergers as a kind of violinistic Get-Out-of-Jail-for-Free card is getting rather tedious, too.

Like I said before, no one (but yourself) gets hurt if you think you're this prodigious learner who can solve any technical problem in five minutes flat while others need months of practice. But it looks like you're trying to persuade others, too, that this is the way to go.


Please read my post completely before responding.

This is getting repetitive, so everyone please let the thread be already.

April 8, 2017 at 03:33 PM · @Frieda: Thank you! Somebody gets it! :)

Regarding Beethoven, I never told anybody it was perfect. I would be able to play it well after maybe 3-4 months, but it would need quite a bit of polishing afterwards (which is why I'm going to leave it for after some less precise repertoire). :D

@Dexter: Sorry about the thread, and a final nod of encouragement to you, my good man. :)

April 8, 2017 at 09:16 PM · Adult beginners are extremely unlikely to reach a pro pkaying standard in their lifetimes. Even if you set a less lofty destination for yourself, if you dont enjoy the drive its going to be an unrewarding trip. Comparisons to averages are reasonable. Comparisons to outliers, whether demonstrated or otherwise, are not wholesome.

April 8, 2017 at 09:38 PM · So, an average adult learner, with enough time and dedication, will not reach the Bach chaconne etc?

Surely that is setting the bar a bit too high?

This makes me wonder, what is the usual yechnical limit of somebody who started in their 20's or whereabouts?

Do we draw the line at something like a mid-advanced concerto like Bruch, or is it a bit higher/lower?


April 8, 2017 at 11:19 PM · Child beginners are *also* unlikely to reach a pro playing standard in their lifetime, I will note. Most players beginning in childhood and studying pretty seriously will nevertheless never end up playing the Chaconne.

Many players (regardless of when they start) seem to plateau in the late intermediate stage -- never quite reaching Bruch level, or reaching the point where they can get through the notes of the Bruch but not actually play it well. Call it a plateau at the DeBeriot sort of level.

April 8, 2017 at 11:39 PM · Huh, I had assumed most young children would find it much easier to reach a higher standard due to beginning young.

Is this due to lack of determination, or simply individual ability?

April 9, 2017 at 12:03 AM · No doubt it's a combination of lack of desire and lack of ability, but quite possibly deficiencies in teaching as well.

The breadth and depth of refined skills necessary to sound professional should not be underestimated.

April 9, 2017 at 05:43 AM · Just curious. Can someone name ONE adult beginner (let's define that as someone who started at the age 20 or later) who managed to win auditions in ANY full time orchestra that pays at least $30k a year?

I mean is there even a single outlier?

April 9, 2017 at 01:39 PM · $30k would exclude a significant number of full-time professional symphonies, by the way. For instance, Mary Ellen's orchestra, the San Antonio Symphony, a full-time ROPA orchestra, pays significantly less than that at base, I believe.

April 9, 2017 at 02:15 PM · Ok. I am not up to date with the pecking order of US orchestras. When I was growing up, I regularly attended the concerts of the Baltimore Symphony, which was a respected ensemble outside the "big 5". I now regularly go to the concerts of the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, both of which are quite excellent but perhaps not top tier. Does any of these three pay $30k at base? It seems to me $30k is a minimum number to support a family at a marginal middle class level.

BTW, I see zero probability of any adult beginner winning auditions in any of the three ensembles mentioned above.

April 9, 2017 at 03:06 PM · "I see zero probability of any adult beginner winning auditions in any of the three ensembles mentioned above." That's no problem. I'd venture to say that most adult beginners don't play violin with that goal in mind to begin with.

Truthfully, it shouldn't be a goal per se for any musician, regardless of age.

April 9, 2017 at 03:28 PM · G. A. Agreed! My question was motivated by the claim that an adult beginner can within a year or two, play any interval with "perfect intonation" and is ready to play the capstone concerto in the repertoire. I am just wondering if there is an adult beginner in the history of violin playing who can reach the level of a professional. Since "professional" is such a loose term, I further qualify and quantify it.

April 9, 2017 at 03:57 PM · San Antonio is ICSOM, not ROPA. Baltimore pays base around $80k I believe, Minnesota is around $100k, St Paul is probably around $70k. 30k a year will not get you a middle class lifestyle in most areas of the country.

(Also, the three that you mentioned are among the top orchestras in the country.)

April 9, 2017 at 04:41 PM · Here's a useful reference, albeit from 5 years ago: LINK - top 20 orchestras by pay. Note that orchestras you were talking about, David, are among the very best in the world.

Apparently I was looking at old San Antonio info on pay (10 years ago it was $26k base) -- looks like the current base is $33k. (LINK)

April 9, 2017 at 05:16 PM · Lydia, thanks! The list is more or less in line with what I expected. The traditional big 5 plus LA and SF are at the top. I thought Baltimore would rank a bit higher. Minnesota is a great orchestra, but its musicans were recently locked out due to financial difficulties.

April 9, 2017 at 08:43 PM · Lydia's point that even those who start as children are unlikely to reach a pro playing standard is well made. When she mentioned "deBeriot Level" I thought, "Hmmmm ... I resemble that remark!"

Nobody plays in a regional orchestra to get rich. You play because you love orchestral playing and it provides a portion of your overall family income along with teaching and freelancing ... and whatever your spouse makes.

April 12, 2017 at 06:34 PM · Jumping in to throw a tangent into the mix: what is the "de Beriot level"? I know de Beriot, but don't know where his work falls within a repertoire's beginner-intermediate-advanced levels and sub-levels.

I've been playing for 5 months after a 15 year absence, and I'm thrilled that I'll be starting on Roumanian Folk Dances at my next lesson. It is a coup for me. (I also switched teachers recently, which has helped my progress enormously. Hello, Schradieck.)

April 12, 2017 at 08:37 PM · DeBeriot wrote a number of works that are commonly taught to intermediate-level students -- Concerto No. 7, Concerto No. 9, and the Scene de Ballet are particularly popular. They have a virtuosic sort of sound, but they aren't as difficult as they sound. They are roughly comparable to a few other works commonly taught to students, such as concertos by Viotti and Rode.

At that level, quite a bit of the violin repertoire is available to you -- things like the Bartok Romanian Folk Dances that you're playing, many Kreisler works, some of the easier Sarasate works, many violin/piano sonatas and other short works.

The next level up is basically the Bruch concerto, which is the advanced repertoire that you'll hear played by professionals (versus many of the earlier pieces, which tend to be played exclusively by students save for some hoary warhorses like Thais).

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