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songbird
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Hello there! I am new to this board and to the violin (40+ adult beginner). I have been taking lessons for almost four months now. I feel like a racehorse tied to the stall but am trying to bear it with patience. I already had to step back with using my pinkie, as it was locking up on me because I was trying too hard and getting the right pitch but I guess it was pushing too much too soon. What I lack in experience, I make up for in enthusiasm!

I have a singing background and some piano, so fortunately do not have to deal with learning sight-reading at the same time.

Does anyone care to share any of their early experiences with learning their instrument?

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Hang in there, Songbird! I've been where you are now.

I started violin at age 32, and studied for 2 years. Though I continued playing, I did not restart lessons for over 20 years. Now I am studying again and have a super teacher!

Like you, I want to progress faster than my experience allows me. It takes a lot of careful, focused practice. After 3 and a half years of lessons, I am now playing concerti and a lot of chamber music. (I am in a quartet). Just try to enjoy each day of practice and revel in the sound of this lovely instrument at whatever level you are playing. Things will improve if you stick with it!

One word of caution - when you have aches and pains, don't ignore them totally. Warm-up with scales and arpeggi each and every day. If you get a persistent pain, stop and rest. Use ice after practice. There are books available too to help musicians avoid injury. These "older bones"

need a little more care, but we can progress too!!

Good luck!

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Thank you, Josie, for your encouragement. It is helpful for me to know what you are doing now and how many years it took you to get there, as I like to set goals for myself.

I revel in every little success I have and fortunately enjoy all my practising (even the scales!). I just think it is such a privilege to be able to study an instrument, and I have had to wait over the past number of years until I found a good teacher and had the time to practice.

Fortunately, my teacher is very knowledgeable, encouraging and much more patient than I am!!!!

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Be grateful for your music background. When I started playing the violin, I had played the piano for 7 years, but I played all by ear, and didn't know how to sight read music. It was such a handicap to me. But I have played the violin for 2 years now, I am very fluent in reading music, and I am enjoying it a lot. Just hang in there and work hard, and it will pay off.

~Laura

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I remember a little. I went mad playing lots.....anything was acceptable (with my technique) to get those notes good for the next lesson!!

I loved my lessons and was game to try anything.

Enjoy, but don't forget to do things *properly* it saves having to relearn later on.

An easy piece played well is better than a hard one with bad technique or music. Some of my grade 1's have played 'beautifully' - the audience/friend/family love it when it's good, regardless of standard .

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T.D., nice hearing from you. You sound like me. Luckily you started long before I did. I saw a music cartoon recently showing a guy visiting the doctor, the doctor looking at his x-ray and seeing music notes all over his insides, and the gist of it was that the guy had all this music inside of him trying to get out. That is why it is so frustrating when you have the music inside of you but don't have the technical ability to let it out. Anyway, now that I have learned four major scales, I am looking through music books for easy pieces in those keys and playing whenever I get a chance and this gives me the opportunity I need to do more.

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One of the best things I have come across in learning the violin is the Alexander Technique. This is a method of harnessing the power of good posture, to improve performance and prevent injury. There are several books but I recommend you just get one of the introductory books as it will open your eyes to what good posture, playing position being very much a part of it, will do for you life as a violinist and beyond.

I mention this because, when I first started, I would injure myself with overuse and improper posture - little did I know, it almost cost me having to quit altogether (7 mos. to re-heal.)

Just something I like to pass on to adult newcomers.

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Thank you, Ken, for your recommendation. Since I started playing the violin, I have been reading like a fiend anything I can get my hands on regarding technique for the violin or anything related in music. I read a book called, "The Art of Practising," by Madeline Bruser, in which the Alexander Technique was referenced. There were some very good suggestions in "The Art..." regarding posture, etc., but I will also try to get one on the Alexander Technique specifically.

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Hi Songbird,

Despite the name (needed a name in a hurry, cue "holy viola!"), I'm a violinist, and although I don't rule out experimenting with the viola, I reckon I'd have a lot of trouble with it. I'm pretty small in stature, and the viola's greater dimensions would certainly make things awkward. Of course, I've never tried it so it's hard to tell. From what I hear though from violinists who have made the change, is that all viola jokes aside, it's a far more challenging instrument than it appears at first, and just because a person can play violin, doesn't mean they find the viola easy. Ah, maybe one day

Have a good day!

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Songbird,

It's wonderful that you have such enthusiasm for music and the violin. I began playing as a youngster, but gave it up in my teen years to persue "other interests." I have been back into it for two years, although recent circumstances keep me from giving as much attention to it as I'd like.

When I first started in fourth grade, I would drive my teacher crazy because I would play by ear instead of reading the music (I learned to read music in a church youth choir). Practice sessions often consisted of doodling with tunes from memory, usually songs I'd heard that day, instead of my assignments.

Upon returning as an adult, I was amazed at the lack of flexibility in my joints; as a kid, I could twist any which way without pain. Recent experience underscores what Ken said above; my primary focus is playing for fun, and learning to do so pain free is, for me, more important than becoming a great technician (although, If I could do both, I would be quite pleased!)

But enough about me... I hope you never lose your enthusiasm! Good luck, and have fun.

~Dave

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Gosh that was 37 years ago...

I remember my teacher's name. Miss Yuzaki. She was a pupil of Suzuki's and starting the first Suzuki program in Boston in the 1960s. I took classes with 50 other 4 year olds in the old Dana Hall school for girls in Wellesley, MA. THose were the days. I remember her being very young. And showing me how to hold a pencil.

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My mother's account of how I got started:

I have a tendency to rebel against anything she tries to teach me. At the age of 8 during a piano lesson with her I noticed my grandfather's violin in the corner.

"What's that?"

"A violin. Would you like to learn how to play it?"

"Would you be teaching me?"

"No"

"OK!"

A less than auspicious start, but hey, it got the job done.

I, of course, have no recollection of this whatsoever....

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Thanks for stopping by, UncleDave, and I'm glad you came back to playing the violin. I think playing by ear is a gift and makes the instrument more enjoyable to play. Thanks for the words of encouragement too - my enthusiasm grows as my technical ability grows. I think of the keys I have learned as keys to all the doors behind which are rooms filled with many pieces of music written in those "keys." This is great!

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  • 2 months later...

Hi Songbird,

I am also a beginner adult student (56yrs old) who just recently joined this forum ( just browing through some of the old threads and saw this post from June)

My first recollection of starting to play the violin was the pain in my left shoulder from holding the instrument up!! (who ever invented these instruments to be played in these akward positions???) I too, am very enthusiatic about learning to play, but I have to force myself to put the instrument down between songs to rest my shoulder. Even after several years of lessons, my shoulder still aches!

Maybe some weight training at our local gym might help. If only I could tear myself away from my violin

Good luck and keep practising.

Obsessed

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