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Thread: Advice on learning new musical instrument

  1. #1
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    Default Advice on learning new musical instrument

    Hello Members,

    I have a query to ask you all.

    I'm currently 30 years old. I wish to learn the classical violin.

    However, I have read that it takes up to 10 years in order for one to master the musical instrument.

    I have a concern that my age as well as my work and family commitments will make it difficult to master the violin.

    I regret not learning the violin during my teenage years.

    Do you think its too late for me to start learning the violin?

    Looking forward to your advice and opinions.

    Thank you.

  2. Likes Jaro liked this post
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    Hello cupoftea
    I guess you love idea of playing violin, otherwise you wouldn't ask. So: Just do it. If you start today you will take one day off those 10 years If you love to play YOU WILL FIND THE TIME. Maybe not enough at the beginning but you will.

    Ps. I know nothing about learning classical violin, I have been learning to play piano.
    Pss. I started when I was 40+... true joy... start and I guess Violin will bring joy to you as piano brings to me, or MORE
    “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” ― Bob Marley
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaro View Post
    Hello cupoftea
    I guess you love idea of playing violin, otherwise you wouldn't ask. So: Just do it. If you start today you will take one day off those 10 years If you love to play YOU WILL FIND THE TIME. Maybe not enough at the beginning but you will.

    Ps. I know nothing about learning classical violin, I have been learning to play piano.
    Pss. I started when I was 40+... true joy... start and I guess Violin will bring joy to you as piano brings to me, or MORE
    Thanks for your reply Jaro

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    Yes, you are too old to begin the violin. So sorry for the bad news, but this would be a waste of time. A professor would probably tell it to you, with more diplomacy than I have.

    Violinists must begin, not as a teen, but as a child. All decent violinists (not to mention the professionals) begun at 6 or 7, some earlier. Those who played an other instrument before can change to the violin a bit later, I know one who switched at 10 and an other one even at 12.

    This differs from other instruments. Two well-known bassoonists switched from the piano at 15 and even 18. Many wind instrument blowers begin around 12.

    The reasons are unknown. Possibly some brain plasticity is lost in teens and adults. Violin is no normal activity. Just to illustrate this, nearly all violinists are right-handed but prefer the left fingers for delicate activities.

    Then, the time amount, yes. 10 years don't suffice. Consider 1h a day between 6 and 20 years old to become a half-way decent amateur. Future professionals would rather spend >>3h a day once they reach 12.

    Whether you're gifted? Unless you're a Gipsy or a Jew, you must try to tell (kidding, but not so much). A professor could tell after one year on an instrument or a bit less. Few people are gifted for music, and then there's no hope whatever the time put in learning. I knew such a young woman, nobody had told her she wasted her time, too sad.

    You might also check how much in demand the varied instruments are. We have far too many violinists, pianists, flautists, clarinettists, trumpet players. This holds for amateur orchestras too.

    Did you consider wind or percussion instruments? Musicians start learning them much later, so they don't demand the ability (brain plasticity or whatever) available to children only. Their general level isn't inaccessible as it is for the piano and the violin.

    Orchestras need tuba players. I believe they need trombone and horn players too. The bassoon would be much in demand but it's really difficult. Whether the oboe is less difficult?

    Vibraphone, marimba, other percussions...?

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    O, and I forgot an other brutal truth: even if you had learned between 6 and 20, at 40 you might very well be too old to play nicely. Violinists get old as early as soccer players do. Gidon Kremer, Nathan Milstein are rare exceptions. David Oistrakh and Arthur Grumiaux still played nicely in their mid-60s. Most others, including Jasha Heifetz, were fantastic at 20 but nothing exceptional at 40 already.

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    No, you're not too old to learn violin! As long as you accept that you're never going to be the next Heifetz. But you can learn at a decent enough level that in shorter time than you might think you could play in small, community orchestras. Violin is very, very difficult to say the least. There's so much to learn: all the positions, the bowing techniques...it's not for wimps. You must have time to practice every day - no less than 30 minutes, preferably an hour. Do you know how to read music? That will go a long ways to helping out. There are online violin classes, but you really should try to find a teacher and at your age use the Suzuki method. And get a decent instrument, not a $80 Amazon made-in-China cheapie.

    I have experience with this: at age 27 I decided I needed to learn a string instrument to help with my orchestration and conducting. So I took up viola. I took weekly lessons for a year, then bi-weekly. Practiced everyday and used a practice mute so I didn't drive others crazy. After two years I felt confident enough to join a local adult string orchestra that was designed for older and retired folks. We didn't try to play the string serenades of Dvorak or Tchaikovsky, but much easier music that was written for say junior high school or high school students. I struggled, but constantly improved. Let me tell you, managing the bow, watching the conductor, and reading the music at the same time was hard! Made bassoon look like a piece of cake. Then I graduated and joined a full orchestra - sitting in the back of the section. Got to play some great music: Beethoven 5th on the first concert! I kept this up for several years until other musical commitments made it impossible to do it all.

    So it just depends on how much time you can commit, how dedicated you are, what you expect. If you don't start now in ten years you'll be 10 years behind. As we get older it probably is harder to learn new skills. Go for it! There are summer music camps for adult beginners. Look into that. But get started!
    "It is surprising how easily one can become used to bad music" - F. Mendelssohn

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    Quote Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
    No, you're not too old to learn violin! As long as you accept that you're never going to be the next Heifetz. But you can learn at a decent enough level that in shorter time than you might think you could play in small, community orchestras. Violin is very, very difficult to say the least. There's so much to learn: all the positions, the bowing techniques...it's not for wimps. You must have time to practice every day - no less than 30 minutes, preferably an hour. Do you know how to read music? That will go a long ways to helping out. There are online violin classes, but you really should try to find a teacher and at your age use the Suzuki method. And get a decent instrument, not a $80 Amazon made-in-China cheapie.

    I have experience with this: at age 27 I decided I needed to learn a string instrument to help with my orchestration and conducting. So I took up viola. I took weekly lessons for a year, then bi-weekly. Practiced everyday and used a practice mute so I didn't drive others crazy. After two years I felt confident enough to join a local adult string orchestra that was designed for older and retired folks. We didn't try to play the string serenades of Dvorak or Tchaikovsky, but much easier music that was written for say junior high school or high school students. I struggled, but constantly improved. Let me tell you, managing the bow, watching the conductor, and reading the music at the same time was hard! Made bassoon look like a piece of cake. Then I graduated and joined a full orchestra - sitting in the back of the section. Got to play some great music: Beethoven 5th on the first concert! I kept this up for several years until other musical commitments made it impossible to do it all.

    So it just depends on how much time you can commit, how dedicated you are, what you expect. If you don't start now in ten years you'll be 10 years behind. As we get older it probably is harder to learn new skills. Go for it! There are summer music camps for adult beginners. Look into that. But get started!
    I agree with 'mbhaub' obviously with the point made it is never too late to start simply to enjoy the process of learning and achieving next levels of mastery. I guess playing violin may bring loads of joy as piano (my instrument of choice). TV: out, smartphone: out, all unnecessary activities: out, and I am sure you will find 1+h to play and have great time Just do it! Who knows, maybe you are exception of the rule of age. You see, there are many things we say about what is possible and what is not possible until someone has done it. HAVE FUN! PLAY! LEARN! Share your experience here
    “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” ― Bob Marley
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    Hi mbhaub, you already played a (badly difficult) instrument when starting the viola, that changes much. But I know no single professional violinist who started music as an adult, not even a teen. I know one who started the violin at 12 (if she didn't lie to me) because she played the guitar and the horn before, and an other who started at 10 after playing the piano. All others started at 7, 6 or earlier. Why does nobody succeed when learning the violin as an adult as a first instrument?

    Up to some far limit, humans learn more quickly with age. I learned a foreign language at 30 much faster and better than as a child. At least one positive point.

    And I maintain: violinist don't play nicely with 40 any more - with exceptions. They play the demanding pieces with 20+, but at 40 it's over. Listen to Heifetz for instance.

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    40? What are you listening to? Yes, there are some who declined and still recorded: Menuhin and Stern for example. But whizzes like Heifetz, Szeryng, Francescatti, Haendel, Zuckerman, Perlman and many others played brilliantly well into geezerhood. Most know when to stop. Looking for something less demanding they take up conducting.

    You may have learned a foreign language easier at 30 than a child, but I'll bet anything that the child speaks with no accent and that you do.

    I don't know anyone who started violin from scratch at age 30, that is, with absolutely no prior musical experience. But I do know several people who took up guitar, electric bass, drums even after age 40. They can't read music. Play by ear. It sounds like hell, but these garage band guys are living out a fantasy of their own: to be in a rock band. What's really annoying is that the local neighborhood arts committee invites them to play gigs at picnics. My wind quintet, all professionally trained, are always skipped over - we play that "long hair, classical crap" to quote one board member.
    "It is surprising how easily one can become used to bad music" - F. Mendelssohn

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    I don't recall the OP expressing a desire to play professionally. Just as well!
    But for fun, find a teacher and have a go.

    Love that phrase "master the violin."
    Ask Perlman whether he thinks he's mastered the violin.
    <hollow laugh/shake head>

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    Whatever your choice of instrument - start now and learn the fundamentals: posture, hand position, tone production. etc. You'll be very busy for a while.

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