Adult returner

July 23, 2018, 1:49 PM · Hi all. New here. I have recently made the decision to return to violin in my 30s. I stopped when i was 15/16 at grade 4 but never took the exam. I have my first lesson booked with a great teacher on Friday. Is it realistic that with hard work I will be able to get back up to where I left off and continue from there or is it much harder as an adult? I am really looking forward to it but also slightly nervous. I sing as well so I have the advantage of still being able to read music quite well. Thanks.

Replies (16)

July 23, 2018, 3:02 PM · Welcome! I'm a beginner, but I think you'll be able to get back to where you left off and progress from there. I think it will be part muscle memory kicking in, the knowledge you already have, and the fact that you are dedicated. Very excited for you and hope you'll report on your progress!
Edited: July 23, 2018, 3:27 PM · You will get as far as your motivation, training quality, and intelligent labor of love gets you. In my estimation, playing the violin at any age is always a plus, and never a waste of time (unless you make it as much.) Go forth and work patiently, not even thinking about "playing levels" or comparing yourself to kids who started at a year and a half old-enjoy the process, and you will likely end up surprising yourself.

Listen to a lot of music, and if possible, live recitals/performances, so you keep yourself inspired throughout your musical journey.

Edited: July 23, 2018, 3:39 PM · Based on my own experience and others I have seen, I would think that at your age you should be able to get back to where you left off at 15/16 and go much much, much further.

One "rule" about being nervous: never be nervous to play for your teacher, teachers have heard it all and are there to help you.

If you can afford it find an instrument (and bow) that you love to play and hear.

If you have the motivation, time and energy it is a GO!!

July 23, 2018, 4:56 PM · Hi Tara,

Welcome to the forum. As one who began at the age you are now, I can tell you that you can get your skills back. How far you go with them is up to you.

As an adult you probably have more money but also more responsibilities than when you were a teenager. You are doing this because you want to, not because you have to, or because somebody else wants you to do it - that changes the dynamic.

However, as an adult re-starter, you need to be careful to avoid thinking of the learning process in the way you did as a teenager. Levels, grades, homework, are all school-related terms that are meaningless to the adult.

What do you want to do with the violin? What kind of music do you want to play? Do you want to perform with a community orchestra, chamber group, non-classical ensemble, in church,...? Make sure your teacher understands what your goals are to avoid being drawn into the back-to-school mode where the violin becomes yet another chore.

FWIW: I've been playing for the past 40+ years and I still enjoy it and I've actually become a teacher myself - not a professional but an outreach to young people who could not otherwise get private instruction. Who knows where your path will lead.

July 23, 2018, 4:56 PM · Thank you for your responses and is appreciated. I have a violin i love. Its not the most amazing one but there was something about its sound and how it felt to me that made me fall in love with it. I will let you know how it goes.
July 23, 2018, 8:02 PM · You will need a bit of time to rebuild your dexterity and your reflexes. But you will also be more intelligent and mature, with a lot more listening under your belt. So while some things will be slower to pick up now, other things will be faster— and will run deeper.
July 24, 2018, 8:25 AM · "I sing as well so I have the advantage of still being able to read music quite well."

Anybody can learn to read music, but not everyone can sing (in tune). If you can sing in tune, it might help a lot in violin playing and vice versa -- not for hitting the pitch, but for having the target in mind beforehand, as well as for phrasing and um, voicing, the musical line.

July 24, 2018, 12:11 PM · I restarted 2.5 years ago at 32 and am now much better than I was at 18 when I stopped playing. If you focus on the fundamentals and get a good teacher you'll go far.
July 24, 2018, 12:18 PM · Of course you can! I played the piano as a kid. I quit it for some years and I returned to it when I was 22. To my surprise, in less than a month I had almost recovered my previous level! Some years later in my mid 20s I decided to start with the violin... just to see if it was as difficult as people say. Being still a beginner, I'm enjoying it and progressing at a good pace regarding how little I practice. If I can do it, you can. For sure. Good luck!
July 24, 2018, 12:45 PM · I'm adult returner (25 year hiatus). In my case I had kept playing another instrument, which helped a little (at least in thinking about music). But I regained and surpassed my original skillset within a year. I've been back at it for 13 months now and I'm significantly ahead of where I left off. It's possible.

And Andrew Victor's advice is the best anyone could give. It could be a sticky on the top of this forum.

July 24, 2018, 2:40 PM · Thank you everyone. It is really nice to hear how others have got on and the encouragement. I have been playing a few bits (just basic scales etc) today to see what I remember. I hadn't realised just how much i had missed playing. I cannot wait for my first proper lesson now and thank you for the advice about not being nervous in front of my teacher. You are completely right.
July 24, 2018, 4:34 PM · Hi Tara!

I stopped when I was 19 (after reaching Grade 8 and a bit) and started again when I was getting on for 30, and found that 3 years into re-learning I was 90% as good as I was when I left off.

So you can absolutely go further than you did as a child.

Personally I found it easier to learn as an adult - as a child scales and studies were a chore I mindlessly repeated, as an adult I found myself thinking about them much more and enjoying them much more. I made the mistake of not getting a teacher for many years, so having a good teacher is a great start.

Also, worth subscribing to this blog for tips on practicing and so on:

July 24, 2018, 5:24 PM · I think I win--I recently returned after 38 years away! It's been about 3 months and I'm making good progress. I still have the same issues I did at 17 LOL, but I feel that I have a more mature and reasoned perspective on how to work on those problems.

I joined a community orchestra,and that has done a lot to jump start me. It's good to have something to work towards and measure myself against.

Edited: July 24, 2018, 10:35 PM · I returned after 25 years, and I've been at it several years now. I definitely can play much better than I could when I left off at the age of 17. I don't think I'll ever get much past the Bruch Level though. That's okay. I'd like to play well enough to perform an occasional recital of mostly salon pieces with some solo Bach, play with a decent community orchestra in my retirement, and play chamber music with friends, the latter goal being what I consider the biggest challenge. I also play the violin in a jazz trio for the past couple of years (4-5 paid gigs per year).

It's all about finding time to practice regularly and making sure that it's quality time -- not always when you're dead-tired or distracted by other obligations, deadlines, tasks left unfinished at work, etc.

July 25, 2018, 4:11 PM · or, hanging out on ;-)
July 25, 2018, 6:17 PM · Touche, jean!

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