I am sixty-two years old, and two years ago started trying to learn to play the violin again after an aborted attempt 20 years ago. I had some major hearing loss, but with the new high tech hearing aids available I can now hear music again. So two years ago, I again tried to learn the violin.
I wish to use this post to give thanks. After struggling with learning the violin for two years now and grudgingly getting a bit better, I want to give thanks to those things that have helped me,
I give thanks for my cats, they actually stop whatever they are up to and compete to sit in the best spot to listen Seriously, it’s hard to beat that for encouragement as opposed to what some human companions might do!
I thank the D'addario clip-on violin tuner. One thing I have learned in listening to myself and other inexperienced players is that intonation is important. I see playing in tune as the first part of my getting a tone I call my own. This thing works in real time and is revolutionary! It's like having a teacher quietly reminds you during your lesson that you are not in tune. I know there are some questions about the use of a tuner. However, as an old beginner, I think it is useful. Unlike those lucky children that have regular lessons and familial support, I, like so many adult amateurs, must squeeze practice in when I can and lessons may not be an option. Playing alone, how can one not but get some real help with intonation with such a gadget. Also, the device stops after 10 minutes. Ostensibly to save the batteries, but really to gently remind the user to hear the tones.
Next I must thank the ViolinOnline Website by Dr. Robin Kay Deverich As a novice, it was almost a spiritual experience being able to play her version of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. I stumbled on to her site discouraged and weary of making so little progress. However, her version, to this beginner, sounds enough like the original, and with such easy fingerings that it uplifted my spirits and gave me the encouragement I needed not to give up. In a very discreet way (her other site), she speaks of how her faith is so important to her life. Her ability to make such an awesome scaffolding of such works is a godsend to encouraging learners so that novices such as myself can experience such well-known masterpieces in some small way.
So thanks to these things and many others, I now have decided I am ready for a real student violin. Don’t gasp, but I was learning on a Mendini MV500. I know that many of you consider this a VSO, but it has what is needed for a beginner to not give up. It tunes easily and stays tuned. It has the resonances I can hear when I hit the note spot on. Plus, it's a small price to pay to gamble if I could actually play music given my substantial hearing loss. I also discovered a neat trick. A tourte mute placed between the G and D string, silenced a bad wolf note, and somehow made it sound bearable (otherwise it sounds strident and scratchy)
However, I have progressed to the point where I felt I needed a real violin. I have just gotten my Snow 200. I got if from Princeton Violins, and I am in awe of it. I chose Princeton because its specializes in Snows, but also for their the support they offer. They clearly wanted to make sure I got the violin set up for me (even changing the E string to adjust for the best sound, and giving me a free case as well!) I had some bad experiences searching for a student violin. One major violin shop who touts it’s personal service and support of students, didn't even return my call. Princeton was the polar opposite. Wow…it sounds like heaven to me. I am in awe of it. Thank you.
Of course I want to thank this wonderful website and its amazing editor. The candid (and sometimes hilarious) thoughts of so many experienced musicians are inspirational. At my age, I expect only to play to my cats, and hopefully a bit more than 10 years. I will never experience music as most of you can, but your talk gives me a glimmer of what must be a beautiful grasp and appreciation of music.
Thank you all for your musicality.
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