Should I play the violin?

May 11, 2019, 11:04 AM · I have always wanted to try learning the violin however always had some doubts on if it's possible as I suffer from single-sided hearing loss. Which means I'm unable to hear on one hear(my right).

The good thing? is that I'm right handed but will this affect my ability to play the violin in any way? Since I can't recognize things like surround sound.

Also, should I be concern about people saying that playing the violin causing some damage to the ears? I'm a little worried since I only have one ear but yeah.

Replies (22)

May 11, 2019, 11:27 AM · Yes, you should learn violin. Put a foam earplug on your left side and you won't suffer any damage to your hearing. More than enough sound is transmitted through your jaw for you to be able to hear what you're doing.
May 11, 2019, 12:20 PM · No, your hearing loss isn't a significant limitation, and can be an advantage in reducing or blocking out distracting sounds from the right side, or anything outside your own instrument. You should keep the sound level hitting your left ear in check, and could do that with musician ear plugs (which reduce the level but try to minimize tonal impact) or a mute which reduces the overall level and annoyance to your neighbours.

But as to whether or not you should learn to play the violin in itself - it's a long hard road.

May 11, 2019, 12:48 PM · Go for it!
May 11, 2019, 3:25 PM · The one-ear issue isn't a problem and using a foam earplug should reduce the chances of hearing loss in your left ear.

I will ask the question my teacher asked me, as an adult (late starter): What are your goals in playing the violin? They don't have to be reaching for the stars, or the moon, just something that you really want to do and achievable with the assistance of the teacher.

For me, my goal was simple: to be able to play the melody line of Hymns in church. I surpassed that goal and went way past it to levels I never dreamed of when I started. That was over 40 years ago.

As Marty wrote: "Go for it!" Just know where you want to go.

Edited: May 11, 2019, 3:47 PM · Honestly, no. If you have to decide for one instrument, it's the viola. There is never a reason not to play the viola. It really is that simple. VIOLA.
May 11, 2019, 3:50 PM · Joking aside, if you're concerned about having a loud shrill sound generator next to your single intact ear, have you ever thought about a cello?

But still, can't see any reason against the viola...

May 11, 2019, 6:50 PM · Playing the viola hurts the left hand, really, it's too damn big to be held that way - now, if you hold it like a cello it works great.

But for the hearing issue: many elderly people lose their hearing. So do many elderly violinists. How can you tell why one elderly violinist is losing his hearing if another one isn't?

My hearing sucks, I've been playing violin for 80 years - but my left-ear hearing is better than my right ear (go figure!). My grandfather lost his hearing and never played violin - his 3 daughters also lost their hearing and never played violin ( figure it's just my iheritance). We have violinists, cellists and an oboeist - and me (at least) in our orchestra with hearing loss - all in our 80s.

I say "play violin," if you want; if it is uncomfortable to your ear, plug it to attenuate the sound to a level you find desirable and adequate. If as you get older you want more sound - just reduce the attenuation.

Not all violins are painful to hearing, and not all hearing is sensitive to the violin's highest tones.

May 11, 2019, 9:39 PM · I just started playing 9 months ago at age 60 and 1/2. It is challenging, frustrating, and has brought me an inner peace. I am hooked on it and look forward to seeing how much improvement I have made in 4 and 1/2 years at 65. Rent one for a month and try it, you will only be out about 35 dollars.
May 12, 2019, 12:43 AM · I think the fact that you're asking the question means "Yes". There is a lot of good advice given above. And from my experience, even if you're not young doesn't mean you won't get pretty good at it if you don't give up and you listen to your teacher and practice. I'm not sure I had any goals when I started, but evenually my goal became to play with others. That's not difficult with all the community orchestras. Then my goal became to form a string quartet. I didn't have the guts to do that until I switched to viola.
Edited: May 12, 2019, 3:10 AM · " prepared for the onslaught of unpleasant noises in the beginning "

Sometimes I wonder... if it truly so horrible. Although some of my Asian friends once told me that in some rural area where one can buy live chicken and kill it at home before cooking it, and the last scream of the chicken sounds just like the sound beginner violinists are making...

I use a heavy metal mute all the time when I practise so that my neighbours won't complain. So far it seems to be okay. In the orchestra and lesson where I do not use mute, I do wear ear plugs. They were advertised as "musician's earplugs", but I am not sure how well these ear plugs perform. You still hear everything very well, just a tiny bit softer. Sometimes I forgot to take them off.

I enjoy the violin experience. It is both challenging and rewarding.

Edited: May 13, 2019, 7:29 AM · Go for it!
Church groups, folk sessions and community orchestras are full of people like you.

In my experience, the main issues for adult beginners are life getting in the way of practice and impatience about the learning curve (which is steeper than some other instruments).

Make sure you have a good instrument and n bow. You'll see cheap violins referred to as violinshaped objects. This is because they make playing unnecessarily hard. Renting is a great idea. If you live in the states try some of the shops recommended on this site. They can post violins safely if you're not nearby.

If you learn to relax both arms and to hold the bow correctly and let gravity do some of the work, the chicken- killing moments will be over very fast. You'll need a decent teacher for that, even if it's just for a couple of months. Hopefully you can afford much longer than that. Fortnightly works ok after the first few months if you learn to practice well between lessons, which helps the bank too. At worst, try red desert violin's Suzuki course (online videos) which are incredibly well scaffolded lessons you can work through at your own pace and contact the teacher if you need help.

Here's advice I give my adult students:

You do has free time to practice; it's all those minutes where you're waiting the pasta to cook, for your daughter to get out of the bathroom, for your partner to be ready to leave. Leave your violin in an avessible place and use each couple of minutes to work on domething specific - a bow exercise, a scale, a tricky string crossing. As long as you have a couple of half hours, you can make do with a few of these impromptu practices on the other days on a busy week.

Sometimes you will feel like it's all going nowehere. This is normal (think back to school!) Cause progress isn't always linear. If you're someone who gets frustrated by perceived lack of progress video yourself every month or so, so you can see that you've accomplished something new.

If you can, play about for a while in a violin viola and cello. Just packed open strings will help you make sure you picked the right family member.

Listen to lots of violin and fiddle music to find what you like. Then trey to fin nd people to play with. If nothing else old time/bluegrass and slow urish sessions are almost always welcoming to beginners (just play softly up the back till you know what you're doing)

If you're worried about hearing, alot of young musicians in bands here in oz seem to be using 'happy ears' ear plugs which they say don't affect the sound quality, just reduce the decibels. Might be worth looking into.

Good luck!

May 13, 2019, 9:08 AM · In reply to the OP's question - yes, definitely! We've got to keep this forum alive somehow!
May 13, 2019, 10:45 AM · The problem with "going off gang busters" is that you leave behind other stuff -- projects at work get just a little less attention, chores at home get put off -- and after a few months of "gang busters" you realize you don't actually have time to practice 2 hours a day so you take a couple of days of catching up on your other stuff and then you realize how nice it is actually to have some of your other productivity back.

So my advice is, don't "go off gang busters." Practice half an hour a day for starters and see what you accomplish with that. Use another 5 minutes to keep a journal so that after a few months you can calculate your progress and estimate your trajectory forward.

May 13, 2019, 11:18 AM · I've been trying to keep up a 2hr daily practice schedule since mid-October and I'm mostly successful at it - to the chagrin of my husband... Many a chore get left behind whilst immersed in practice like this.

My current practice method is 30 mins practice, break to do household things, 30 mins practice, break again (eating dinner is always a good thing), then another 30+ mins if I can manage it, and maybe one more break and practice session if I am really really lucky with timing and my husband doesn't mind. I make so much more progress with 2hrs a day of practice - some days I am lucky if I get an hour in (which is 10-15mins more than a couple of years ago!), much less 1.5 or 2hrs. It's good to have a clean house, clothes washed, folded and put away, time spent with family at home and food on the table. Adult avocational violinist life...
I think reasonable expectations re: progress are important to consider, and I have to constantly remind myself of this.

May 13, 2019, 12:12 PM · Dan, Since I suffer from hearing loss myself, I'm curious as to whether your right-side hearing loss is complete, or just "functional."
Edited: May 13, 2019, 2:35 PM · Hearing deficit is not an obstacle, but depending on your age, other instruments may have higher return of investment. It all comes down to reward : work ratio. If you do not get rewarded soon enough your motivation will most likely drop below the minimum for daily practice.... If you really like music and are looking for expression, an instrument is just a tool, not a destination.
May 15, 2019, 11:44 AM · I like Anish's advice. I ended up choosing viola in the end because it's not as high pitched as the violin. But violins are much easier to come by and if someone had suggested viola at the beginning I probably would have gone with violin anyway because it was what I imagined myself playing. I played it for many years before the time to try the viola seemed right. I didn't lose anything studying violin so long, except that my viola teacher was much more amenable to teaching older students. But that was just luck of the draw.
May 18, 2019, 10:50 PM · It might be better to play cello, so that the instrument won’t be so close to your ears. Also, it’s sound seems to be a little more gentle.
May 18, 2019, 10:51 PM · It might be better to play cello, so that the instrument won’t be so close to your ears. Also, it’s sound seems to be a little more gentle.
May 19, 2019, 1:00 AM · Pick the instrument that makes you've heart sing, that way you'll be much more likely to point in enough practice. If it's viola or cello, it's worth learning it straight off do you don't have to learn a new clef for your preferred instrument (just one more complication if you're an adult with limited learning time).

For me it was a case of don't really like the e string on a violin, not at all a fan of the c string drumming against my chest on a cello, so viola made perfect sense. Since I hurt my back, though, I can't hold my full sized viola and am back to plaything violin with it's 'evil e-string" (as one of my students christened it).

If your in instrument turns out to be a viola, choose a teacher who actually plays viola professionally, not a violin teacher who 'also' teachers viola. They're quite different in terms of bowing, as I found out when I went from an 'also' teacher to a viola specialist - suddenly I had someone showing me how to get that dark luscious sound I loved.

May 22, 2019, 3:43 PM · Being a 6 ft tall bassist with large hands I almost took up the cello or viola, but the violin seems to have been a good choice. Once I get my shoulder rest I'll be able to utilize my reach. If I can play Cm9 chords on the bass I should be able to make significant stretches on the violin.
Edited: May 22, 2019, 4:07 PM · There are so many different E strings available now there is bound to be one you can tolerate, even on YOUR violin - and some other setup changes might help too.

One of my mistakes 60 years ago was selling a Stefano Scarampella violin that I had inherited for 1/300 of what tit might sell for now ("retail" or auction) - mainly because its E string penetrated my ears like a knitting needle. I later came to realize there were so many other things I could have tried - much too late. At least what I ws paid covered the medical care deductibles when our first child was born a few months later.

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