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Heidi, I have had some experience relative to your question about progress. Presuming you are an adult with no previous experience, I can assure you it is a major challenge. The major problem with an adult beginnner is the development of flexibility. This is easy for children because the cartilage in their joints has not hardened. This happens usually in the mid to late teens. That suppleness will never be the same after that time. Adults generally can rationalize the musical concepts with no problem--its the physical manipulation of the instrument which is the main problem. But don't give up...there is a lot to be learned and enjoyed. Good Luck!

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Jacob, I'm sorry for not clarifying exactly what I meant. I'm sixteen, so still in mid-teens, and have had piano training. My teacher says that I have a very flexible bowing motion, but what I want to know is, how can a measure if I'm really advancing at a normal rate. It seems as though I'm not getting any better! I can tell the difference between when I first started a year ago and now, but for quite awhile now I seem "stuck." Is that normal?

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Heidi, being "stuck" or reaching plateaus is normal with any type of learning. I think the piano background is an asset especially in regards to the flexibility you already have in your hands. What I would do is outline a series of goals both short term and long term to try and achieve during the next 6 mos. - year. This will give you something specific to shoot for. Your teacher should be able to give you guidelines as well as what he/she is expecting for the future. Maybe you could be a bit more specific with your problems or concerns ie. where are you 'stuck' now? ETC. What type of music are you trying to learn....jazz, classical, blue grass, fiddling? How well do you read music? Difficulties in reading notes, bowing? How much technical material are you doing at this point or is it all repertoire? See ...this is only the start of a thousand questions. Let me know!

Jake

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  • 2 weeks later...

Heid - Jake gives excellent advice. I am one of those adults who started violin just two years ago. I have certainly hit spots where I feel I'm going nowhere, but the measurement should be your level of enjoyment. During the times that you feel you are not making progress, think back to the very beginning and you'll always be able to say "I'm better now than I was then." And you're very lucky to be in that "window of flexibility" so that sticking to it now will surely reap huge rewards later on. Good luck. I join Jake in his encouragement and would like to know how you do from time to time. Hanalie

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  • 3 weeks later...

: Heid - Jake gives excellent advice. I am one of those adults who started violin just two years ago. I have certainly hit spots where I feel I'm going nowhere, but the measurement should be your level of enjoyment. During the times that you feel you are not making progress, think back to the very beginning and you'll always be able to say "I'm better now than I was then." And you're very lucky to be in that "window of flexibility" so that sticking to it now will surely reap huge rewards later on. Good luck. I join Jake in his encouragement and would like to know how you do from time to time. Hanalie

I assume as other responders did that you are an adult beginner, and if that is so, take great heart. I began at age 45, and have been at it for seven years. Many suggested that I was too old, and I ignored them. Yes, you do have to develop flexibility, and you will. It has less to do with how many years you take lessons than how many hours you spend with your instrument. The more you put in, the more you get out. I NEVER tire of playing and studying, I put in three hours a day (yes I do!) and love every minute. I went from one octave scales to the Mendelssohn concerto in seven years.

You need a good teacher, a nice sounding instrument, a responsive bow, a quiet place in which to work, some encouragement on the home front, and away you go. Learning comes in plateaus, enjoy each one. If every single day you improve measurably in some small aspect of your playing, you have succeeded. I wish you the best, and hope to learn of your progress here.

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  • 10 months later...
  • 1 month later...

: : Heid - Jake gives excellent advice. I am one of those adults who started violin just two years ago. I have certainly hit spots where I feel I'm going nowhere, but the measurement should be your level of enjoyment. During the times that you feel you are not making progress, think back to the very beginning and you'll always be able to say "I'm better now than I was then." And you're very lucky to be in that "window of flexibility" so that sticking to it now will surely reap huge rewards later on. Good luck. I join Jake in his encouragement and would like to know how you do from time to time. Hanalie

: I assume as other responders did that you are an adult beginner, and if that is so, take great heart. I began at age 45, and have been at it for seven years. Many suggested that I was too old, and I ignored them. Yes, you do have to develop flexibility, and you will. It has less to do with how many years you take lessons than how many hours you spend with your instrument. The more you put in, the more you get out. I NEVER tire of playing and studying, I put in three hours a day (yes I do!) and love every minute. I went from one octave scales to the Mendelssohn concerto in seven years.

: You need a good teacher, a nice sounding instrument, a responsive bow, a quiet place in which to work, some encouragement on the home front, and away you go. Learning comes in plateaus, enjoy each one. If every single day you improve measurably in some small aspect of your playing, you have succeeded. I wish you the best, and hope to learn of your progress here.

Heidi, Louise, Jake:

I started learning 3 yrs ago at age 36. I'm not

someone who would take up the violin ever...!

But I have and I've stuck with it thanks to a

persistent, caring instructor.

I'm past one of the greatest hurdles--the first 2

years were challenging. But right from the begin-

ing I enjoyed making sounds with the instrument

and in my heart I was determined to feel the great

sensation of making certain music with the instru

ment. You need the right instructor. My first two

instructors just didn't mesh with me. My present

teacher has been with me 3 years. You and your

instructor must always be staying attentive to

your particular interests and pleasures with the

instrument for they are what bring you to the

instrument and keep you going. Every person is

unique; Allow your path with instrument to be

unique, whatever it will be. Allow yourself lulls

with it, and then flow with with the surges.

Sometimes I feel like I am retarded when I am

practicing the violin. It's just not pretty. But

then other times, there is great fluidity and

instinct. Recently, it feels as though learning

the instrument is not just adding skill, but

removing mental and emotional obstacles. After

3 or four years with the instrument, I sense my

mind knows a lot more about playing the instrument

than what often comes forward in actual playing.

The more quality time you want to give the violin

the greater and faster the rewards. A distracted

busy, stressed mind can not easily practice the

violin. I've tried.

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  • 3 months later...

I am 36 and interested in learning to play the violin. I have been looking for some self instructional books - haven't found any yet. I also still have to purchase an instrument and am hoping to find a used one. What are some things I should look for when purchasing a violin and is it important to start out with an instructor or can you learn some of the basics through a book. I'm anxious to get started so please respond soon.

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:

: I am 36 and interested in learning to play the violin. I have been looking for some self instructional books - haven't found any yet. I also still have to purchase an instrument and am hoping to find a used one. What are some things I should look for when purchasing a violin and is it important to start out with an instructor or can you learn some of the basics through a book. I'm anxious to get started so please respond soon.

Yes I think you really do need an instructor that you feel comfortable with because I don't think you can understand about posture and correct bowing techniques etc. just from a book. I am 39 and have been learning for about 2 years. 6 months ago I joined an ensemble group (all about the same level) and have found this very enjoyable and it certainly helps my playing.

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  • 1 year later...

: I am just starting to learn to play. Have rented an instrument and got a teacher for weekly sessions staring in one week. I am CRAZED with excitement and some fear. I hope to focus on "fiddling" but we'll see. I am a stiff-fingered adult at 50 years of age but the thought of taking on this new challenge has subtracted years off how I feel!! Anyone out there in similiar position?

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  • 1 month later...

I am also an older adult, been playing for about a year, and have had a stiff shoulder ever since! But really enjoy the challenge. I was browsing for information on how to hold the bow. I do have a teacher, but looking for some comments from other beginners.

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So pleased to hear from you. I know what you mean about sore shoulder! I've got the bow grip down pretty good but bow movement, that's another story. Am currently working on having less arm movement/more

wrist. Keep hitting the neighboring string. But when I hit them right, wow! I love the sound!

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Thanks for replying. Can you tell me how far do you 'tilt' the bow. My teacher had me tilting-now says I tilt too much. When I watch others play, it looks as if the side of the bow is parallel to the violin. I don't know the rules here,or what is considered correct, but would like to start out doing at least that part right. My teacher is great, just looking for other advice.-Thanks.

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  • 2 months later...

: I am also an older adult, been playing for about a year, and have had a stiff shoulder ever since! But really enjoy the challenge. I was browsing for information on how to hold the bow. I do have a teacher, but looking for some comments from other beginners.

From OLD AUSTRALIAN.

To all geriatric violin beginners - just a few words of encouragement:

I started learning the violin at age 54 and I have been playing for 2 years.

I knew nothing of music (except listening to it) and had never tried any musical instrument in my life. Here?s how I am tackling the hurdles ?

Having no means of appraising a ?good? violin I bought the cheapest new Suzuki violin (and was actually frightened of it) It has been frustrating trying to achieve a beautiful tone but my violin teacher can make it sound quite good, so technique is important. After 2 years playing, training the ear and a bit of research I now feel more confident to spend on a better sounding instrument. I have decided that a new instrument selected purely for tone is going to be my best value for money option.

I take violin lessons (half an hour per week) and I am on book 3 of the ?Strictly Strings? method (has great tunes and CD accompaniments).

Learning to read music is still really hard. Also I wear glasses and getting the left hand and the music in focus at the same time is tricky. In the beginning, I enlarged the music on a photocopier to see it better (even colour coded some of the notes)

I had no idea what any note should sound like. I overcame this by buying an electronic tuner and trained my ear to recognise (and find) the notes. I still use it when practicing, especially when venturing into 3rd or higher positions, but can now play 1st position in tune well without it.

Left hand fingers would not obey my brain, were unco-ordinated and slow and the little finger very weak. I bought a hand exerciser that has plungers for individual fingers (good music shops sell them). I use it every time I go out walking and the improvement has been great. I try to use the little finger instead of open strings as much as I can.

You can get overlays for the fingerboard which show the position of the notes (I obtained mine via the internet). I didn?t use it a lot on the violin but it is quite useful to photocopy and mark key positions when learning music.

I tried 3 different shoulder rests but couldn?t get on with any of them so I play without one. It took a long time to feel comfortable but it feels more secure since I raised the height of my chin rest. (I?m looking for a good height-adjustable one). Also the violin is less bulky without a shoulder rest.

I play standing up and I have my music stand high to encourage a better posture.

I am only just managing to achieve some vibrato. I like classics and all the pros seem to vibrato like mad. I?m not sure I like it that much and find I get quite a nice sound if I?m precisely in tune -- perhaps when I?m better at vibrato I?ll be more enthusiastic for it, but for now it?s no big deal.

I have chubby hands with fairly short wide fingers (like a bunch of bananas). At first it was almost impossible just to stop one string without touching another and I?m still working to improve this (slimming diets do not extend to the fingers !). I am working on the left thumb at the moment, it tends to creep up the neck. I am sure good thumb technique is important, especially keeping it relaxed.

Perhaps the hardest hurdle for a geriatric beginner is learning to relax and finding a teacher who can give really good advice on technique that encourages relaxation and pain avoidance. I?m still looking. Because of increasing muscle pain in the middle back area I have just invested in some lessons in the Alexander technique. In hindsight I wish I had done this simultaneously with my first violin lessons as it is difficult to remove bad habits later on. I thought I was fully relaxed but in reality my right shoulder was raised and tensed and I?ve only discovered these tensions and other poor bowing practices since taking lesson in the Alexander technique. I recommend it.

I also video-tape violin performances from TV and watch them closely for technique (sometimes with sound off). And because I am not very musical, find it hard to interpret written music and have a poor sense of rhythm I sometimes listen to good recordings and try to imitate them - cheating I know, but lets face it I don?t have lots of years left to get it right !

After reading this I am sure some of you will be asking why do I bother. So I?ll come clean. Two years ago by sheer accident, the TV program I timed my video to record was cancelled and I found it had taped instead a concert by Vanessa Mae in Berlin (it is available on video ). Instant inspiration to any grey-haired but hot blooded male geriatric !. A week later I happened to pass a music shop, and out of curiosity asked if I could just hold a violin to see what it felt like. Two hours later I?m driving home with it on the passenger seat of my car like mother taking home the new baby and wondering how on earth I am going to explain this acquisition to a wife who was not party to its conception I countered all argument with ?I tell you I will learn to play this thing even if it kills me? (which I suspect it probably will). I recommend bold statements of ambition from which you cannot back out with grace - it keeps you motivated.

The first 2 years are not easy and you must accept that you won?t like the sound for most of that time. But if you persevere, by the end of 2 years you?ll just love the thing ? it comes to dominate your life. I set myself a target of 10 years to achieve an acceptable level. It presents a seemingly endless and fascinating challenge to occupy me in my retirement (at 60). It has opened up a wonderful world of making music that for all my life I thought I was never capable of understanding. Now when I listen to music (be it classics or pop) I find myself filled with awe at the incredible skill good musicians have - because I myself have tried it first hand and tasted a measure of its difficulty. Even if I never become a good player it has allowed me to really appreciate that skill and the dedication and practice that was needed to achieve it.

Be patient, practice daily, refuse to accept age as a deterrent and take pride and enjoyment in your achievements, whether lofty or humble. And find yourself a hero, a virtuoso you can look to as a role model . There are great young violinists out there - Gil Shahan, Sarah Chan, Hillary Hahn, Sophie-Ann Mutter etc etc etc. I don?t suppose Vanessa Mae has much time for grey-haired geriatric Australians but she is my hero and that lucky accident 2 years ago entirely changed the direction of my life. Thanks Vanessa, and good luck to all you geriatric beginners out there in cyberspace.

OLD AUSTRALIAN

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: : I am also an older adult, been playing for about a year, and have had a stiff shoulder ever since! But really enjoy the challenge. I was browsing for information on how to hold the bow. I do have a teacher, but looking for some comments from other beginners.

: From OLD AUSTRALIAN.

: To all geriatric violin beginners - just a few words of encouragement:

: I started learning the violin at age 54 and I have been playing for 2 years.

: I knew nothing of music (except listening to it) and had never tried any musical instrument in my life. Here?s how I am tackling the hurdles ?

: Having no means of appraising a ?good? violin I bought the cheapest new Suzuki violin (and was actually frightened of it) It has been frustrating trying to achieve a beautiful tone but my violin teacher can make it sound quite good, so technique is important. After 2 years playing, training the ear and a bit of research I now feel more confident to spend on a better sounding instrument. I have decided that a new instrument selected purely for tone is going to be my best value for money option.

: I take violin lessons (half an hour per week) and I am on book 3 of the ?Strictly Strings? method (has great tunes and CD accompaniments).

: Learning to read music is still really hard. Also I wear glasses and getting the left hand and the music in focus at the same time is tricky. In the beginning, I enlarged the music on a photocopier to see it better (even colour coded some of the notes)

: I had no idea what any note should sound like. I overcame this by buying an electronic tuner and trained my ear to recognise (and find) the notes. I still use it when practicing, especially when venturing into 3rd or higher positions, but can now play 1st position in tune well without it.

: Left hand fingers would not obey my brain, were unco-ordinated and slow and the little finger very weak. I bought a hand exerciser that has plungers for individual fingers (good music shops sell them). I use it every time I go out walking and the improvement has been great. I try to use the little finger instead of open strings as much as I can.

: You can get overlays for the fingerboard which show the position of the notes (I obtained mine via the internet). I didn?t use it a lot on the violin but it is quite useful to photocopy and mark key positions when learning music.

: I tried 3 different shoulder rests but couldn?t get on with any of them so I play without one. It took a long time to feel comfortable but it feels more secure since I raised the height of my chin rest. (I?m looking for a good height-adjustable one). Also the violin is less bulky without a shoulder rest.

: I play standing up and I have my music stand high to encourage a better posture.

: I am only just managing to achieve some vibrato. I like classics and all the pros seem to vibrato like mad. I?m not sure I like it that much and find I get quite a nice sound if I?m precisely in tune -- perhaps when I?m better at vibrato I?ll be more enthusiastic for it, but for now it?s no big deal.

: I have chubby hands with fairly short wide fingers (like a bunch of bananas). At first it was almost impossible just to stop one string without touching another and I?m still working to improve this (slimming diets do not extend to the fingers !). I am working on the left thumb at the moment, it tends to creep up the neck. I am sure good thumb technique is important, especially keeping it relaxed.

: Perhaps the hardest hurdle for a geriatric beginner is learning to relax and finding a teacher who can give really good advice on technique that encourages relaxation and pain avoidance. I?m still looking. Because of increasing muscle pain in the middle back area I have just invested in some lessons in the Alexander technique. In hindsight I wish I had done this simultaneously with my first violin lessons as it is difficult to remove bad habits later on. I thought I was fully relaxed but in reality my right shoulder was raised and tensed and I?ve only discovered these tensions and other poor bowing practices since taking lesson in the Alexander technique. I recommend it.

: I also video-tape violin performances from TV and watch them closely for technique (sometimes with sound off). And because I am not very musical, find it hard to interpret written music and have a poor sense of rhythm I sometimes listen to good recordings and try to imitate them - cheating I know, but lets face it I don?t have lots of years left to get it right !

: After reading this I am sure some of you will be asking why do I bother. So I?ll come clean. Two years ago by sheer accident, the TV program I timed my video to record was cancelled and I found it had taped instead a concert by Vanessa Mae in Berlin (it is available on video ). Instant inspiration to any grey-haired but hot blooded male geriatric !. A week later I happened to pass a music shop, and out of curiosity asked if I could just hold a violin to see what it felt like. Two hours later I?m driving home with it on the passenger seat of my car like mother taking home the new baby and wondering how on earth I am going to explain this acquisition to a wife who was not party to its conception I countered all argument with ?I tell you I will learn to play this thing even if it kills me? (which I suspect it probably will). I recommend bold statements of ambition from which you cannot back out with grace - it keeps you motivated.

: The first 2 years are not easy and you must accept that you won?t like the sound for most of that time. But if you persevere, by the end of 2 years you?ll just love the thing ? it comes to dominate your life. I set myself a target of 10 years to achieve an acceptable level. It presents a seemingly endless and fascinating challenge to occupy me in my retirement (at 60). It has opened up a wonderful world of making music that for all my life I thought I was never capable of understanding. Now when I listen to music (be it classics or pop) I find myself filled with awe at the incredible skill good musicians have - because I myself have tried it first hand and tasted a measure of its difficulty. Even if I never become a good player it has allowed me to really appreciate that skill and the dedication and practice that was needed to achieve it.

: Be patient, practice daily, refuse to accept age as a deterrent and take pride and enjoyment in your achievements, whether lofty or humble. And find yourself a hero, a virtuoso you can look to as a role model . There are great young violinists out there - Gil Shahan, Sarah Chan, Hillary Hahn, Sophie-Ann Mutter etc etc etc. I don?t suppose Vanessa Mae has much time for grey-haired geriatric Australians but she is my hero and that lucky accident 2 years ago entirely changed the direction of my life. Thanks Vanessa, and good luck to all you geriatric beginners out there in cyberspace.

: OLD AUSTRALIAN

I am an adult who would love to learn to play the violin. My 8-year old daughter plays and I am just fascinated by this beautiful instrument. Your comments and encouragement are just the push I need to get me started. I'm going to call my daughter's teacher and sign up for lessons for myself! Surely, I will never be good enough to play in public, but that's not the point. The point is to live life without regrets. I know that if I don't at least try, I will surely regret it later.

So thanks again for the encouragement and keep playing!!

-Rosie

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I am 26 and am in the process of relearning the violin, it has been many years and I only played as a child. I am able to play those songs again. I am at the point in my how to book where it is trying to teach me to read music notes. Oh My Gosh!! They lack detail big time and I am baffled. Is it something that you just have to memorize??

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