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My 1st playing experience after 27 years!


ZNICK
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Well yesterday I did it... after nearly 27 years I went out and rented a violin!!!!

I started playing violin at the age of 6, and played until my Sophomore year in High School, almost 10 years.

My teacher wasn't the greatest, she's a Catholic Nun and taught many instruments, but I remember myself as always playing 1st violin in school and community orchestras, so I guess I was at least "ok" for my age.

About 2 weeks ago I saw a live musical performance, and thought to myself, "heck I could do that". The next day I found myself on the web reading about violins... yes... I was "bitten".

To keep my wife from leaving me, (and as advice from some folks here and in other places) I decided to rent a violin to see if I was committed enough to buy one. I imagine if I stick it out at least 3 months I'll go buy one of my own.

Anyway, I was SO suprised at how much "came back to me" when I first started to play it! I stopped and bought a Disney "fake book" on the way home, and was playing songs from "Lion King", "The Little Mermaid", and others within 15 minutes!

Sure, my wife and kids wanted to know "why is it squeeking?", but what amazed me was how after all these years I could still read the music and actually play songs through.

My fingers still work!!

My sound quality was poor of course, the notes were short due to poor bowing techniques, and yes... there was squeeking, but I honestly feel my pitch was pretty good after all these years. I found myself "sliding" into tune, lol, but my kids were at least able to recognize what I was playing...

Anyway, by most players standards it was pretty bad, but after so many years I have to say I impressed myself.

My 1st endeavor was a positive one, and as I now look for a teacher I can say I'm truly excited about restarting this time around. I just wish my mom was still alive, she'd be glowing.

Nick

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That's very similar to my story, though I only had about a 20-year break! I picked up a violin again about...six years ago, mostly because I had suddenly become interested in Irish fiddling. In December, I'll be playing the first violin part of the Bach Double Concerto--my first live gig in well over a year. I'm awfully glad I started playing again. I join everyone else in applauding your decision to jump back into the fray.

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I'm another adult returnee after a 23 year break. Like Nick I'm amazed how much came back to me without any effort. What seems odd is that it took 23 years and three other instruments before I considered playing the violin again - the horrors of the weekly visit to my teacher having barely touched the thing during the week still haunted me!

It's great to find other adults in London who want to play fiddle style, and I might even dip into some chamber music with my viola playing fatehr!

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Congratulations on taking the instrument up again! I think it's interesting how we can come back so fast after a decades-long hiatus. It's quite a contrast with adults who have never played before. Makes me believe in the theory that we form neural pathways in the brain when we learn as children and, dormant though they may be, they are still there when we come back to the instrument as adults.

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Welcome back. As an adult returnee you just have to suit yourself. Play what you like and where you like. It isn’t an expensive hobby if you don’t develop a taste for fine fiddles. You can take lessons either regularly, only on an occasional basis or not at all.

I’m an older returnee. There’s a great variety of people here including high school students, adult beginners, symphony players, teachers of all kinds, fiddlers, violin makers or any other kind of string enthusiast you can think of. This is a good place to hang out on the internet and you can pick up a lot of good information. There’s a bit of fun and foolishness too.

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I've also went through a few other instruments, alhough all casually.

I've played guitar, piano, and I have done a lot of singing, in choirs as well as performances in musicals. ("Jesus" in Godspell being my favorite)

Anyway, I agree about the playing when "I" want to thing. How can I forget the daily arguments with mom about sitting down to practice!!! LOL!

This time around, it on my terms... and it's easier than golfing!

Nick

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Welcome to the club. I took a 25-year hiatus. Getting a teacher is very important. A great deal comes back without effort, but you also pick up the bad habits without much effort. Try to find one that has a good reputation for teaching adults. Maybe someone out there knows who is good in your area.

I agree with you that it is more fun to do it on your terms rather than your parents'. I was fortunate that my parents were still alive when I returned to it and it gave great joy particularly to my mother with whom I had the greatest battles as a child. It also meant a lot to me to be able to play for her as she was sick and dying. Good luck! You will get lots of support from this crowd.

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It's so exciting to see how many "returnees" there are! It was 25 years for me. I picked it up again about 6 months ago.

There does indeed seem to be a component of muscle memory involved when coming back to the instrument. The funniest part for me was that although I was playing on a full-size violin when I quit, my hands were smaller - so the intervals my fingers remembered were "larger" than they are now... I still have a lot of catching up to do.

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I think an important component of looking for a teacher is knowing what you expect from taking lessons, and knowing your own goals. I have had two rather lackluster experiences with two very good teachers, one a violinist and one a violist. The violinist, who was young enough to be my granddaughter, seemed bemused by the fact that someone as old as I could be serious about learning to play well. The violist, who was about my age, assumed no matter what I told her that I was doing this to fill my lonely hours and not because it is my plan to achieve all that I can as a violist. I have met a new teacher in a somewhat non-teacher setting, and she appears to be on a similar wavelength with my thinking, so I'm thinking about taking lessons again. Oh yeah, there was that other violist who was a terrific player but neglected to tell me that there were instruments out there that weren't eight feet long and weighing 22 pounds, as was the viola (or so it felt like) that I was playing then. I will never figure out why she didn't notice that I was sweating with pain every time I put the beast under my chin. So I have a million bad left hand habits to break before I see the progress I really want to make. My point is be sure you know your goals and be sure that your teacher is comfortable with the goals you are seeking. Result- Progress, progress, progress!

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Ann, you are so right about finding the best fit in a teacher.

I was lucky to find a good one right away this time on a friend's recommendation, but what caused me to quit as a kid was really the teachers. Neither of them taught much technique or anything that might have given me a more in-depth relationship to the instrument - they just kept doling out pieces. My left hand is a mess.

How did you continue to play when in so much pain with your heavy instrument? Did it lead to injury? I'm so worried about where my bad habits will lead while I'm on the road to correction - maybe I should just relax!

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Do a search for "fiddlefaddle". He has developed a great technique for left hand/arm problems. It meant more to me than pain relievers, physical therapy, and an oriental pain relief program. I happened to be under enormous stress when I was hurt, so just working on relaxation was helpful. Maybe if he sees this post, he will re-post his original suggestions. Don't give up. Your new teacher may be a great help. A solution is out there- you have to enjoy the search until you find it.

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It's nice to see that there are other "beginner" adults around, like me. I did 2 yrs of Viola as a child, then switched to Tuba! Last Spring when I dicided to try again after 30 yrs, I went out to rent a Viola, but didn't find one. I ended up renting a Violin just to get into something & now I love it. I am waiting for my first Violin purchase to show up at the door. I can't wait!

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Ann, thanks for the suggestion. After spending a day reading up on injuries via Fiddlefaddle's posts, I realized that my problems aren't that bad!

What seems to have helped me a lot (besides resuming lessons last week) is taking off my shoulder rest, and most recently, my chinrest. Playing very easy things (i.e., long bow scales in first position) chin off has changed my muscles' concept of how to balance the instrument without brute force or unnecessary shoulder, arm, and hand tension. Without a chinrest, raising the shoulder in a tense manner tips the fiddle over in a way that makes it unplayable. So there's an incentive to find the perfect balance - force and tension won't do the trick. However, now that I have "learned my lesson", for the sake of my teacher's sanity I will return to using shoulder- and chinrest. ...Someday when I'm rich enough to afford it I will go baroque, since I have learned that my collarbone has a perfect "fiddle spot" where the instrument stays put.

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Hi,

Welcome to the group of "old" new beginners. I, too, picked up the violin after 42 years. I have been playing now for about 2 years and am completely obsessed with it. My parents are also very thrilled that those 6 years of lessons (between the age of 6 -12) finally paid off!!!!

My two cents worth of advice to you is - do not attempt to teach yourself!! I had a couple of teachers that were mediocre and decided to learn on my own.(particularly 3rd position) As a result, of course, I taught myself several bad habits that my new teacher is now trying to rectify!!

To all those "old" new beginners - isn't it wonderful to pull something out of the recesses of your brain that have been laying idle all those years and realize that YOU STILL REMEMBER!!!

Obsessed

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Right, Obsesssed ~ after being away from the viola (even longer than you from your violin) I found that I remembered all the notes and the fingerings in the first position. Now, where was that lying dormant all those years? A brain, even mine(!) is a wonderous thing!

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Hi Ann,

I just ran across your post. How exciting to hear that you were able to benefit from our encounter! I am so pleased that you were able to overcome your difficulties, and that lil' ol' me could help.

I'm not a returnee , but started as an adult beginner in '98. Trouble is I've been learning making violins as well as playing them. I started taking lesons last January, after finally finding someone I thought could teach me. Adam Degraff is retired concertmaster of the Richmond Va symphony ( at age 27 years) and came to live the good life in rural WV. He is an eclectic musician, who works on whatever I want. Right now we're doing improvisation - harmony, and ear learning. but we started on intonation, and bowing. I'm so greatful for him . Playing a swing waltz duet, as we did today is almost more fun than seem's right.

Maestronet has meant every thing to me, for playing and making. The folks on the Pegbox, are a treasure untold!

congratulations to everyone on this thread. Especially ZNICK.

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Glad you are back playing. Things look a lot different from an adult's viewpoint, and the pleasure seems to be magnified. I didn't "come back" as an adult, I started as an old man of 64. I have always loved music of any kind that doesn't sound like a train wreck. I play a little guitar and a bit of banjo, but I always loved the sound of a fiddle. I gave myself a fiddle as a Christmas present two years ago and began teaching myself to play old time fiddle, bluegrass and waltzes with the aid of a video tape and by listening to recordings. For a couple of months I filled the yard with cats and howling dogs, but I did learn to make notes on a fiddle. Of course, I am much too old to ever learn to play, since I should have started to play when I was a child, according to the experts. After finding two old fiddlers who took me under their wing, I began to actually play that squeaky little box and was much amazed when good sounds began to replace the howls and squeaks. I did not begin to play to earn a spot in an orchestra or to solo on the Grand Ol Opry, I did it simply for the love of the instrument. It is on of the best things I have ever done for myself. It has evolved into a great hobby of repairing and setting up old fiddles, in addition to the pleasure of playing them. I think the world would be a more civilized place if everyone were given a violin on his or her eighth birthday, complete with a teacher. Hope you get as much pleasure from the violin as I have.

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Hi Cantata,

Yes, I am thinking, at this stage anyway, that I would like to try the Viola again. It surprises me that I would even think that because when I stopped playing it at the age of 12, it was because I "hated" it. I guess I didn't like the teacher and I wasn't playing any "fun" music. I didn't like classical music like I do now. So I wouldn't say that I am "converted" totally. Actually I have a fantasy that someday I could play both. Is that realistic for an amatuer? I am meeting with a teacher next week who plays both. I was going to ask her the same question.

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