Reality check, please.
Reality check, please. I'm 20, in University for a non-music degree, and I've been playing since I was about 10. I started out playing Irish fiddle music, which is predominantly what I've played, and only recently switched to classical about 9 months ago. I'm currently working on the 1st movement of the Vivaldi A minor. So here's my question. If I practice diligently, how good can I get? Obviously, I have no professional aspirations as a classical violinist. But is it possible for me to get as good in the next 10 years as I could be now if I'd started with Classical at age 10? I know that I have a good sense of relative pitch (my teacher thinks I have perfect pitch for intervals, but not absolute perfect pitch), a basically decent decent bow arm, and a good sense of rhythm and phrasing. I definitely have lots of other technique issues, but my goal is to play real pieces well, with solid technique, in a way that is both enjoyable to play and to listen to. But is that realistic?
If you study with a reputable violin teacher and practice for a couple hours every day, you should be able to get quite good. Starting with a new teacher might mean they want to rebuild some technical areas where you have problems, but the advantage of playing as a hobby is you don't have the time pressure of getting to a certain level by a certain age. So you can rebuild some areas and set yourself up for success.
To answer your question, I would say "maybe". Depending on your schedule, teacher's teaching ability, the curriculum you follow, and mentality/study skills, you might be able to reach your goals. I cannot give you a straightforward answer.
We haven't seen you, but you have been playing the violin for 10 years, so I will assume you can handle basic left and right-hand things in a natural way. This puts you way ahead!
I don't think there's a limit, even if you have a busy non-music career. The important thing is learning how to practice. As little as 30-45 minutes of focused practice each day will get you a lot farther than just playing for 5 hours a day.
Reality-- You will improve. You will not become a full-time professional classical violinist because you would be competing with all those kids who started at seven, did continuous lessons, practiced a lot, won auditions and contests and went to major conservatories. But, my experience has been that fiddlers that do a non-classical genre (I include myself!) frequently have superior velocity, left hand dexterity, and bow control, and can do well as section second violins in amateur, community, music theater pit,early music ensembles (like your Vivaldi piece) and low-budget professional orchestras. The first violin parts emphasize technique on the second half of the E string. Don't drop the Irish tunes! jq
Agree with all of the above. If you really want to accomplish something, you'll generally be motivated to try your absolute best to achieve it.
My guess is that you could probably get to the "Bruch level" in 3-4 years of diligent practice under the guidance of an expert teacher.
Well said, Paul.
I agree with Jason. Tchaikovsky Is certainly possible in 10 years with effective practice and a “good” teacher.
It all depends how many good habits do you have under your belt
the only difference in you starting at 20 vs starting at 10 is that you have a lot more trouble making time to practice and no one is forcing you to practice so you have to find motivation even on those days when you feel like the worst violinist ever. That’s the biggest issue I’ve faced, keeping the motivation through the plateaus.
I am really with Paul and Rocky.
My violin teacher says that anyone who actually tries can always get to a certain level that is excellent
"My violin teacher says that anyone who actually tries can always get to a certain level that is excellent"
I find Scott's perspective to be just a little harsh here. I think that "dexterity, intellect, trainability, self-awareness, [and] emotional makeup" are really important, but those traits have to be cross-indexed with time. The less a player has those traits, the more work they have to put in, and the better teaching they need, to reach a certain level. That curve can be immense, so much so that for a given student and realistic timeframes, excellence is never achieved. (Scott mentioned "diminishing returns and marginal gains", which is basically what's involved here.)
"A cynic is what an idealist calls a realist" - Oscar Wilde.
I wonder if Scott teaches a lot of adult beginners. I've found that during the stages of my life where I taught the greatest number of those, I felt the most hopeless about the potential progress of all students in general. As I've shifted into having a greater number of kids, proportionally, my attitude has shifted back into "anyone can play ____ if they try hard enough."
It's hard - I have a sloppy Wieniawski 3rd movement I just performed, but at least that clarifies all the stuff my teacher has been telling me. If you really enjoy it, I think you suspend expectations and just put in the work. If you are banking on some outcome or being a pro, then there are probably better ways to spend your time and energy. I'm still counting on improving, and I will see how my Wieniawski sounds a couple of performances from now. At the very least, my memory held up (I've never really performed from memory) - Now to get it in-tune, more relaxed and faster...
What do you want from the violin? You say you have no professional aspirations, so you're free to do whatever you want. I took up violin at age 59 (although I've played other instruments before that). Now, less than 10 years later, I'm playing viola in a community orchestra, and bluegrass fiddle at local jams. There's always room for improvement, of course, but the way I'm playing now makes me happy - and that's what it's all about.
"My goal is to play real pieces well, with solid technique, in a way that is both enjoyable to play and to listen to. But is that realistic?"
>That's an unrealistic statement, and one that uniquely reflects the American self-improvement philosophy, but in a bad way because the implication is, should one fail to achieve "excellent," one has only one's self to blame. You just didn't try hard enough.
Menuhin's best recordings were done in his teens, in my view, and for many other violin heroes the earliest recordings are as good or better than anything which followed. I wonder why?
“In other words, you can say that the average person can fulfill 80% of their talent with 1 hour a day, 90% with 3 hours, 95% with 5 hours, and 98% with 6-7 hours.”
Same with me, David. Beats golfing too, or other frivolous “adult” hobbies.
"Of course, it sounds like nearly all of us adult students chiming in on this thread were intermediate as teenagers, or better, including OP."
Jason, a very small percentage of the adult beginners I've had over the years had actually played at all previously. Of those, even fewer had had private lessons, as opposed to just playing in band or something.
Erik, thanks for the clarification and correcting my conflating of the those two distinct categories. With that in mind, did you notice a difference with any of your adult re-starter students that would provide the OP more hope/anticipation of what can be done (back to his original question)?
No matter how hard we work, practice, take lessons, many of us will not achieve the highest technical level. I know I hit a physical and technical wall around age 28. I will not ever be able to play prokofiev or paganini concertos, or 1st violin parts of Wagner and Richard Strauss operas. But I have been able to improve in musicianship, experience, repertoire. And, even though starting late, I have been able to make technical progress at other music skills; conducting, vocal, percussion, arranging...
For an amateur like the OP, it is unlikely he will ever reach the professional level (in much the same way it is unlikely that most professionals will ever reach the level of the young Menuhin), I think the OP noted that from the get go.
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