63 Year Old Needing Lesson Book Suggestions

September 24, 2018, 7:35 PM · Hi, I m new to this group. I am 63 years old and have decided to learn the violin and viola. Yes, I know this is a lot. I am not looking to perform. I am not looking to be able to play advanced classics. I just need to do this for myself and my enjoyment. I am already taking cello lessons. I wanted to do this as a child and was not able to. It has always nagged at me. So, I decided that I did not want to be doing the “Wish I had, woulda, shoulda, coulda” when it is too late.

Back in 2012 or 2013 I used a leased cello and took lessons. I loved it, but I did not particularly like the instructor. I liked her as a person, lovely friendly lady. Just not a good instructor/student match. She was told by me that I am not interested in performing or joining groups, I cannot do that and have no desire. She kept pushing me to attend her Saturday morning whatever it was, some kind of group. I kept telling her “no”. I also told her that due to my back I could not sit normally on a chair, for a cellist, and I need to sit how it is comfortable for me and work around it, not a big deal, just had to sit back further. According to some professionals, that is what they do. I also to her that I am not in a rush. I need to go slow because I want to make sure I learned one lesson before moving on, I really need to learn before moving on.

Well, she kept telling me to sit closer to the edge of my seat, it caused my back to really give me issues when I did it that way. At home I went back to my way and had no issues playing. She was rushing along to the next lesson and notes before I had any accuracy with the current lesson at all. I told her I need to go slow or it won’t sink in. I know how my brain learns (actually did a course in that when I signed up for classes as an adult and it was accurate), bowing was not really being corrected, intonation was terrible and she kept moving on and piling more on. She also kept bugging me about that group. Finally, I said that maybe I would. Big mistake! All of a sudden she is having me do their music and it was a group with many instruments and I am sitting in my lessons counting measures for other instruments and not getting instructions for actually playing my cello. Most of the cello parts were measures and measures of the same note, and then just sitting there. Yes, during my half hour I was paying for, I just sat there for many empty measures. When my lease was up, I opted to return the cello rather than apply my monthly payments towards the purchase. I was not taking lessons from her any longer.

Well, that was a good thing because we moved to Vegas and spent Fall, Winter, and Spring there. Then we would drive back east. The cello would not have been able to come with us and would have been sitting in the house unused all that time until we got back in April or May. We are back east permanently, now.

I purchased another cello about 3 weeks after we got back permanently in 2017. Husband said it was an anniversary present. He is really supportive of me doing this. Now I am taking lessons from one of the former teacher’s students. It is working out quite well. She is an older lady, also. We understand each other’s aches and pains and that we have to work around them so as not to cause damage to our joints. She is also working on my intonation, bowing, and we are moving along slowly. It has been about a year of lessons, now.

Well, I still wanted to do violin and viola. Originally, I wanted to do violin but figured my fingers were too wide to handle that little fingerboard. I tried guitar for many years and had real issues with my wide fingers and that was a wider finger board, but there were also 6 strings to deal with. But, I figured the cello would be better, that is why the cello was first.

I bought a cheap violin just to see if I could finger the finger board, and hold it, and bow it without discomfort. I found out I could, and actually found it easier than the cello. Weird. I was hitting the mark for the notes. No cheater dots on the fingerboard. Just figured out where the notes had to be played, via youtube, books, etc. I now have a Revelle 500QX violin and an Eastman 100 viola.

I am having a lot of fun and have been getting very accurate with my fingerboard with the first position. I found a very good instruction book that is formatted in a way that makes sense to me, not the crazy Suzuki. The problem? This is a very small area and the only violin/viola teacher is the one I originally had for my cello!

I would just continue with my book, but the format I found that I love for both my viola and violin, is not a complete series. It is Play Violin (Viola) Today. Each one, the Violin and the Viola version, have online access and I can play the songs with accompaniment. This series is very nicely organized, in a way I understand. The violin only has two books in the series, and the viola only has this book 1 that I have. I am really not interested in using this former cello instructor. I have been looking and looking. I cannot go to the closest cities, they are too far and the Winter would be impossible. I have been checking the internet, asking around, etc, nada. This is the only violin/viola instructor at the music shop, too.

My question is, does anyone know of a series I can use after I am finished with books 1 and 2 of the violin series, and the book 1 of the viola? I am going to continue to look for an instructor, but until I find one, I am using these books, at least I will be able to finger the keyboard accurately. I really love the format of those books. No jumping around. It is systematical with with strings.

I am so sorry this is so long, but I wanted to explain why I need to use books, and YouTube only for now. I know I need an instructor. I know you can’t beat an instructor. Online with skype is not happening. But for right now, I need to line up some good lesson books that are geared towards the self-learner. These books start with the middle strings. One string is learned with the first position notes, then the next string. I have the two middle strings down pretty good on the violin and viola and will be moving on to the “E” or “A” string next week. Then the books go back to the lowest string on each instrument. It is very well organize to the way I need to learn. Suzuki is not organized that way. It starts with the higher strings, and seems to move along too quickly. I hope that explanation of the format helps.

I love playing these. The weird thing is, is that since I purchased the violin and viola, my cello intonation and bowing has greatly improved. Even though the bowing is done differently in many ways, including the hold, starting the viola and violin has improved my cello. Maybe it has caused me to pay more attention.

I am not stating where I am located because I do not want the instructor identified. With the internet, it really is a small world. She is a lovely lady, and has a lot of happy younger students, but as an older adult student, I think different structure and considerations (old bones!) need to be taken into account. I think most students are not so anti-performing or joining groups as I am, and that may be an issue, too. I might have to give her another shot with my violin and viola if I can’t find anyone else. I will just have to be firm. I can’t stand up all the time with these instruments. I need to sit at times, violists and violinists sit in orchestras anyway. It seems all lessons I read and see on YouTube the student is standing. I have to switch off and on. Sometimes my back is just too sore to stand for any time during the day. I will have to be firm with her on this, if I use her again.

Thank you for any lesson book series you can suggest. I have to get them online, sight unseen, so it is hard to tell, even with reviews, which are usually poorly written and not helpful, anyway.

Replies (10)

Edited: September 26, 2018, 7:03 AM · A lot of adult learners on this site say that they have appreciated the Dounis method books. I have not seen them myself.

There are a lot of good videos on youtube about violin playing. But a lot of bad ones too. Look for videos by Todd Ehle. His are very good. Beth Blackerby also makes great videos but I think you need a subscription to get most of hers (www.violinlab.com)

Make sure you have a good mirror and a metronome and plenty of wine and chocolate for when things get frustrating. :)

E*D*I*T --- I meant Doflein, not Dounis. (argh!)

September 24, 2018, 9:54 PM · Man, and do they get FRUSTRATING!!!!
Edited: September 25, 2018, 8:28 AM · Paul, don't you mean Doflein instead of Dounis? Another suggestion is the Joachim/Moser Violin School:


it is very methodological!

September 25, 2018, 4:04 PM · Cynthia,

Doflien. The approach is totally different from Suzuki. It focuses on posture, form, and most importantly the "attitude" of your fingers as it relates to the key you are playing. There are four of them based on where the half-steps are relative to where your fingers come down on the fingerboard.

To get the most out of Doflien you do need your teacher or another violinist more skilled than you because every page turn has at least one duet for student and teacher. FWIW: The famous Bartok little duets for two violins were commissioned by the Doflien authors who were also leading pedagogues in late 1800 and early 1900 Germany. The reason that Bartok begins with very difficult duets is that Eric and Emma had to get him to reduce the complexity again, and again. Your teacher might have an interest knowing that some of the Bartok duets are in volume one.

Edited: September 25, 2018, 7:42 PM · I happened upon a thread from 2005 from this site when I Googled Doflien. One poster named Laurie stated that the Dolfien is good and when she was going to use the book one of the Dolfien system with her students, she found it too advanced for beginners as a first book and used Muller Rusch Book 1 for the first book before book 1 of the Dolfien system.

Has anyone heard of Muller Rusch? I Googled it and found it on Amazon but it said it was sheet music format. Not sure if that means all the pages are loose and will be floating around helterskelter because it is not bound. I emailed Amazon to find out.

I found a couple videos of people doing an instruction video with Muller Rusch Book 1, but the videos were very poor. One video was by someone who is mostly guitar and his bow was bouncing and I could tell the bow hold was weird. The other just showed lesson 8 and the sheet music while the person played a few of the songs, did not see the person playing the violin in the video. The page looked pretty good. It had instructions at the top and a number of short songs and exercises to work on to learn whatever was on that page. So far, from what little I found, it seems to work on notes in a string at a time, but really not sure.

If I don’t get an instructor soon, and the Dolfien needs an instructor, that Muller Rusch Book 1 system would work, since Dolfien needs an instructor. It might be a good idea to just get book 1 of the Dolfien series so that when I get an insreuctor, I can show him/her and maybe dissuade from using Suzuki, I would have an alternative.

I am going to see what else I can find on Muller Rusch Book series and Dolfien, but has anyone heard of Muller Rusch? Would that be able to be used by someone with no instructor yet? I can read music and know the terminology, and am able to research to find what I am not familiar with.

Thank to so very much.

Edited: September 26, 2018, 7:04 AM · Sorry! I meant Doflein!

Pretty much everything "needs an instructor" unfortunately.

Another possibility is the Whistler series.

September 25, 2018, 9:29 PM · Leopold Auer Book 1 is good for basic bow work and open string practice.

The exercises of the Doflien Method are presented all over youtube. The books are relatively inexpensive and the exercises are musical, so its like learning songs as you practice.

Edited: September 26, 2018, 2:41 PM · I have added books 1 and 2 of both the Dofleir and Muller-Rusch series to my wish list on Amazon and will purchase them the beginning of October. I have also found they each have the series for viola and have added the viola versions, also, to order at the same time.

Thank you everyone! So much appreciated.


September 30, 2018, 4:02 PM · Cynthia, I wanted to touch on one of your other issues: finding the right teacher. These days there seem to be a lot of teachers who will teach remotely using skype. You might look into this. I mention it because I have just started taking viola lessons. I started learning violin about 10 years ago with a teacher, and comparing the two experiences, I see that my body has changed over those 10 years. I'm glad my viola teacher wanted to start over with the mechanics. The viola's larger dimensions present more physical challenges than the violin.
September 30, 2018, 5:54 PM · I thiught about skype, but there are issues woth the internet and also haveing a place in the house where I can place myniPad and have the instructor see me, I see her/him. I also tried skyping with someone years ago and the lag was terrible (not sure if it was her end or mine) and the sknd itself was crackly and not clear at all.

I am not sure skying would exactly work for me. Then there are the interruotions in the house. I a, thinking that I would sign up for a skyle teacher and all those issues would resurface and it would be a complete waste of money,

How did you get over those hurdles?

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