Adult musician learning Violin

December 15, 2017, 12:51 PM · Hi all,
I'm a professional pianist and vocalist (also flautist, but not doing that so much any more!) and have always wanted to learn to play the violin. Aside from about 5 lessons in university, I've had little experience, but am looking for a good adult method that I can work my way through.

I'm reluctant to go with the ones that are written for kids as I don't need to spend all the time learning to read music and understanding rhythms.

Let me know if anyone has any suggestions! I travel a LOT so it's hard to commit to lessons as I'm rarely in one location for more than a few weeks at a time.


Replies (13)

December 15, 2017, 1:42 PM · I started less than a year ago as an amateur musician, though violin novice. From that experience: I don't think starting violin without a teacher is going to be effective. Too many things to keep track of: posture, both hands, all 10 fingers, and arms including all the joints. Once you have the basics in place, after a few months at least, you might try to continue on your own.

There are teachers who will teach over Skype, which may work with your travel schedule.

As for methods: if you don't want to deal with childish exercise material: Suzuki seems to provide nice repertoire at a progressive difficulty level, but with zero explanation. There are some teachers on Youtube (in particular ProfessorV and Violinlab) who do a better job at explaining than the (few) method books that I've seen.

Edited: December 15, 2017, 2:32 PM · I agree with Han, you really need a teacher, specially at the start. I started with online but gave it up because I didn't want to develop bad habits at the start. I found a live teacher eventually and I'm thinking it was a good thing I did. Independent teachers would probably be able to work with you, on your schedule.

I am currently working through the Suzuki book with a teacher. The Suzuki Method is suggested for children. However, it isn't as "childish" as one would first think. I had images in my mind of attending kindergarden class with pretty artwork with irritating Barney songs playing in the background, but it isn't like that at all. The first song, "Twinkle Twinkle" was a little irritating but there is rational behind it, and once you get through that then you can't even tell the book is written with children study in mind. I would even say, the books are written more for parents not the children.

Edited: December 15, 2017, 2:37 PM · Indeed the Suzuki method has the merit if taking children seriously.
The Doflein method combines a clear progression, short, effective studies, and attractive "grown up" music.
December 15, 2017, 3:43 PM · Get a teacher if possible. If not, try on your own.
December 15, 2017, 4:52 PM · Shaan, part of learning the violin is learning to appreciate that it is different from other instruments. So while being able to read and play and practice in one instrument successfully is transferable to some extent, the skills which are most important to playing violin don't appear in most other instruments. Violin has a greater physical component than the other instruments, as every movement, angle, and force will have an effect on the sound. That said, being able to sing in tune is in my opinion a very helpful skill here -- not the singing itself as much as knowing the pitch and being able to hit it without having a key to do the job for you.

This is to say -- don't shortchange yourself by thinking that you can do it all yourself as you might have with other instruments, get the best possible assistance you can manage, even if it's occasional.

December 15, 2017, 5:25 PM · I started less than a year ago at 35 years old. I did online lessons for 2 months to see if I liked the violin. I then found a local teacher. We’re using the O’Connor books, as that’s the style I’m interested in learning. I still augment those lessons with free content on YouTube.
December 16, 2017, 1:11 AM · Buy sheet music and teach yourself. That's what I've been doing and I love it! It will be much easier for you as an experienced musician, I've been teaching myself to read and still have a long way to go in terms of keeping time, but I'm very happy with my progress since starting about 31 months ago.
December 16, 2017, 2:16 PM · Buy sheet music and teach yourself?

That may work for guitar, if you watch a lot of professionals and have an innate inner knowledge or ability for the guitar... but with the violin?

You could be doing hundreds of mistakes day by day if you teach yourself the violin. I think if you want to play it properly you really need a teach, let it be even 2-3 times per month, just to check you out.

December 16, 2017, 2:36 PM · I tried teaching myself for the first year. I sing and have played many other instruments before, so I figured I would be able to pick it up and get an understanding on the instrument better than someone starting from ground zero. While I was able to progress very decently for teaching myself and develope an “acceptable” vibrato, there were too many variables involved, some I wasn’t even aware in the moment that I was applying wrong, that prevented me from playing how I wanted to. When I started taking lessons, my teacher opened my eyes to “violin logic”, how I had completely neglected the importance of my right arm, and how I worried to much about the little things and not enough about the end product. With most other instruments, I would support someone just learning entirely by themselves. With violin, definitely take at least a few lesson occasionally. If you’re looking to perform in front of people eventually, it is very doubtful you will end up at a level that you would find satitisfying by yourself. Let’s say you did. You gained enough skill to play really well, you will have wasted much time with trial and error, changing variables to achieve the end result when working with a teacher would have helped to expedite the process.

As far as methods, try Suzuki. While it’s aimed towards kids, it has no explanation of reading notes, but some on executing technique for certain pieces. Also, don’t underestimate the ease of the pieces. It isn’t not enough to play through an easy piece. What’s the use in that if you can’t play the song with the style/tone/phrasing you want? Children’s songs are perfect for that because they aren’t technically demanding which allows for you to easily learn the melody, then play with it.

December 16, 2017, 3:41 PM · I agree with Adrian on Doflein for the reason that they focus on the "attitude" of your left hand and as you go through all four of them you detect the progression between attitudes on each string as it relates to the key and later as you move through the higher positions where the logarithmic realities of the fingerboard become apparent.
December 16, 2017, 8:48 PM · I'd say this varies from person to person. If you're really hardworking, persistent, and like to think outside the box, you could get some success teaching yourself. If you get frustrated easily, you'll have a 95-100% chance of failure teaching yourself. Of course anyone would benefit from a teacher. The decision to take lessons or not will depend on your life situation. Unfortunately, some people can't take lessons for various life reasons (finances, location, etc), so don't let your life situation stop you. You also have the option of online lessons, which you can learn more about by searching this site for such threads (plentiful on
December 18, 2017, 5:56 AM · "That may work for guitar, if you watch a lot of professionals and have an innate inner knowledge or ability for the guitar... but with the violin?"

I am sad of these judgements. Maybe to play some folks songs with fire and friends. I am playing guitar for 22 years, not only violin. Guitar is my main instrument, I have graduated at music college on guitar (electric -jazzrock). And I don't like these enclosures, that you can do it on guitar, it is okay.

It is not okay, yes violin is much much harder, but guitar has a lots of mistakes too. I was teaching or almost 10 years and 80% of that job is correcting "self taught" pupils. They will hit the limit one day. You need also proper technique and skills.

December 18, 2017, 12:00 PM · Martin, I agree with you. Yes, some instruments are more easily self-taught than others (e.g guitar is more easily self-taught than violin). If you are self-taught, you will have limits, but these limits depends on your study skills and personality.

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