January 19, 2019, 11:36 PM · Lydia, thank you for the instructions on how to get here.

Hiya, everyone. Newbie here, just old, cranky, hurting, and 49 years after asking parents for a violin I finally found one that I hope can live in the whacko environment with wide ranging temperature, humidity, and bouncing around all of most days that hasn't killed me, yet. Since it is made of the same stuff as the only canoe I've ever owned that does not yet have a hole in it, the violin is probably pretty tough.

Anywho, since I live on the road, regular lessons are not going to be possible. I'm going to be depending on forums for answers to all my questions.

A few years ago I suffered a number of lacerations and fractures in both hands and dain bramage resulting in a coma for 5 days. Therefore, the violin will be rehabilitative therapy for fine motor skills and psychological disfunction. Nothing like killing two birds with one stone.

So, four strikes, but I refuse to be out. I finally got the guts up to just wash my hands and do my first practice this evening. Only took about 20 minutes to get everything together right, but I think it will go much quicker tomorrow. Still need to rig the music stand to fit in the truck, have to play standing up because no convenient place to sit.

Read the instructions and played about 5 minutes, then had to stop due to pain in the bow hand from trying to keep the bow perpendicular to the strings. Then, 20 minutes to get everything put away, but I think it will go much quicker tomorrow.

Holding a pen similar to the bow, I can duplicate the pain from the injury I didn't know I had and follow the motions of playing. I can already feel significantly freer movement without pain.

And that is why I bought a violin once I watched a violinist's hands closely on the internet. I feel quite positive about investing in the new therapy equipment.

Peace and joy,

Replies (10)

January 20, 2019, 7:58 AM · Welcome, Ken!
You'll find much sympathy, much advice (usually relevant), much humour (less relevant)..
January 20, 2019, 12:30 PM · Thanks for the welcome. Truck heater is on so soon warm enough to practice.

All comments will be appreciated. I've heard that the violin is the hardest instrument to learn. Seems to be a plethora of knowledge and skill bits to master before one can even start. I've also heard that sticking through the initial mess opens a world of rapid advancements in (m)any genres after a good start, and that is when violins grab hearts and never let go.

Advice will be important as I have no lessons. Relevant or not, in real life all successes follow failures. In fact, as a retired teacher, I can assure you there are no successes NOT preceeded by a series of failures. Mastery of most anything takes at least 10 years of development. Therefore, even the occasional "less relevant" still has a place.

As for humour, Mike Snider is my hero on that count. His character ain't bad, either. He'd make any Granny proud. Haven't seen Mike since the outdoor concert with Trisha Yearwood at UT Martin about 20 years ago. Anyone that can make an audience roar with laughter while stuck downwind of a hog farm on a warm summer night, well, ... .

Sorry, didn't mean to expose my comedianesque tendencies. It just slipped out, no beer, even.

Stop giggling.

January 20, 2019, 3:54 PM · Ken,

The only advice I give to an adult, and one who wants to be an autodidact is to purchase Doflein volume 1 (it is still in print). The reason is that the approach addresses the bio-mechanics of playing the violin. How to hold the instrument, et cetera but also breaking down the "attitudes" of your fingers on the strings relative to the key you are playing. (FWIW: The Suzuki folk call these "patterns" but only introduce them much later in the process)

If you can find other violinists in your path you night find some people to play the duets with you. Unfortunately, finding them isn't easy. There used to be a directory of musicians all over the USA who are willing to play with others. Unfortunately, the professionals have taken over the site and now it's all about lessons, workshops and camps. Of course, you might find community orchestras along your routes so that is a resource you could tap.

January 20, 2019, 4:50 PM ·
Ken H.

About 10 years ago, when he was 44, my son decided he wanted to add violin to the list of instruments he could play. I used my music-store teacher discount to get him a fairly crummy $300 fiddle that I also used as my first experiment installing "Knilling Perfection Planetery Pegs" before I tried doing it with a better violin. I gave him Suzuki book 1 and a few pointers (I can hardly call them lessons). Anyhow he lives over 1,000 miles from me so he has had to learn to play on his own. I have since given him a crummy 5-string violin (which his hands are much too large to play) and a pretty decent 90 year old Czech violin that he now plays exclusively.

(I should add that my son started to study piano at age 5, played trumpet through high school, plays all the plucked instruments, and played guitar, sang for his income in a "top-40s" band for a couple of years after high school, wrote songs (and still does) and had a year of recording engineering school, and now has his own recording studio as his "hobby business." So although he has been into music for 50 years, still violin is a real challenge for him.)

He has chosen to get "fiddle learning" from Darol Anger ( ) when he has the time. It has been some time since he started the on-line lessons and he had some doubts about how well it was working, but last autumn Darol Anger held a "master class" session in the SF Bay Area, which my son decided to attend and was pleased to discover he was one of the most advanced players in the group of about 30.

There are other violin teachers at Artist Works: Nate Cole, a fine professional violinist who participates helpfully here at was a teacher at Artist Works until fairly recently. It does cost money to participate in the Artist Works program, and lessons are not going to occur every week - there is a delay time between the videos students send in and getting the teacher's reply.

The physical difficulties you have had AND your age are likely to handicap your approach to playing violin - but not make it impossible. I would think you would profit from contact with other violinists who understand the problems you might have and who can offer assistance on developing unconventional ways to use your hands to hold the bow and your instrument if need be.

The violin is a universal instrument. Every conceivable genre of music can be played on it and every way to get the fingers on the strings and the bow moving on the strings can be found somewhere on this planet. If you have difficult with conventional Western Music approaches to playing violin, some other genres might work better for you - expand your internet search to see the great variety.

Edited: January 20, 2019, 8:40 PM · Mr. Wells, self taught won't be a choice. That is just the way it is. Company trucks stop where the company says, and we have to stay with them for security most places. Very unhappy situation, and why most trucking companies have about 90% turnover each year. Anywho, I will order Doflein volume 1 as soon as I finish this post and practice violin a while.

You see, there is a young woman in Houston TX named Lauren Haley who wrote a book about teaching children violin, CHILDREN ARE NOT LAZY: DEVELOPING MOTIVATION AND TALENT THROUGH MUSIC. She advocates, among other "odd" things, several short lessons a day, and so far I've felt improvement stopping when it starts to hurt, several times a day. Interesting!

Remember her name--you will see it again and again. This is her first book and already a plethora of teachers are recommending or requiring caregivers to read this book. Adopting Ms. Haley's methods makes that much difference with children.

Mr. Victor, thank you for your kind words. I think your son's job is safe from me. I agree many things playing violin can be done different ways. That is part of why beginners are overwhelmed--no 2 violinists do everything the same way. Look up the same subject on several videos, such as holding the bow, and each set of instructions will differ. Some videos even show doing exactly what is said not to be done. I will keep an open mind and learn as many muscle skills as I can because I can already see how much play is processes, and different parts of the processes seem to only be initiated from certain variations of stuff that should not be variated, according to some instructors.

As for unconventional, so be it, if it works. Maybe I'll print myself a few "ODD WORKS" t-shirts.

January 20, 2019, 8:47 PM · Well, that was easy. Doflein Method Volume 1 highlight, right click, left click, right click, left click, right click, and the book is on the way. First time in forever technology actually worked the way I wanted it to every click. It's a great day!
January 20, 2019, 9:17 PM · There are some great videos on YouTube. Look for ones starring Todd Ehle. He'll show you how to hold your violin and bow and how do to lots of basic stuff -- properly.

By the way if the violin does not work out, the ukelele is really growing in popularity and you can do a lot more with it than most people think.

January 20, 2019, 9:59 PM · Great advice above. There are plenty of great resources these days that show you how to play the violin properly on the internet these days. You may want to search this site for online violin lessons threads. There are a lot of them.
January 20, 2019, 11:24 PM · WOOHOO!!! Played my very first song on the violin. By ear. First time putting left hand on the strings.

Anywho, the first page of my first instruction book has 6 lines, each with 4 measures and 8 quarter notes to play. Started the session with the goal of hitting each note on the right string every time without blurring with other strings. I was told I couldn't do that on just my second day of practice. It is done. Tomorrow I will work on more even tone and rhythm. I think a metronome would help with the rests and other aspects of rhythm. What do you think?

Stated putting things away with the music stand. For some unknown reason (uh-oh) a simple children's song that requires left hand work popped into my head. Instruction books haven't reached left hand yet, but I've been paying close attention to YouTube and reading some instructions online, some of which don't agree. I just did a little experimenting by ear and taught myself. Humming helped. Once the notes were figured out I just hummed along to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. So fun! I think Amazing Grace is next, because it is one of my mother's favorites.

Back in the olden days my students would make lists to post on the classroom walls of everything they needed to remember. I believe that may be necessary for me to remember all the steps of setting up, stowing away, rosin, cleaning, holding the bow, etc. I'm old and dain bramaged, so need all the help I can get.

I've been told the bow needs to be tightened before play just to the point a pencil will barely fill the space between the stick and hair. Pencils are hexagon cross sectioned. My question is, should I measure flat to flat or apex to apex?

January 25, 2019, 6:09 PM · Doesn't need to be exact. I do a little more than the width of a pencil, but my bow is super springy, and I need to do that to suppress that springiness. So I say a tad more than a pencil, maybe 3 or 4 mm more.

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