Many adults shy from sharing their desire to learn to play the violin or any musical instrument because of the stigma associated with being an adult learner. Some would outright discourage them, saying that it’s harder for adults and that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” However, musical teachers and experts say otherwise. While there are indeed barriers that make it tougher for some adults to learn violin, motivation and hard work can overcome them. When both are present, it’s never too late for adults to take violin lessons for beginners and reap the joy and benefits.
The Challenges of Formal Violin Lessons for Adults
The skepticism about adults learning to play music makes sense. There are indeed challenges unique to older students — you might even recognize yourself in some of them. Below are examples:
- The adult student is unaccustomed to receiving instructions because they are an executive, manager, or business owner who’s used to giving out orders.
- The student has little time to devote to learning because of work and family duties.
- The student is used to setting ambitious goals and inadvertently set unrealistic standards in learning music. He or she may become discouraged to continue learning.
With effort, patience, and a dedicated teacher, you can overcome these challenges and succeed in learning the basics of playing the violin.
This discussion also drives one point forward: adults need violin teachers who are used to teaching adult students simply because adults require a different teaching style from children. If a teacher is ill-equipped to handle the questions, attitudes, and flexible schedules of employed adults, it will be hard for beginner adults to learn as fast or as well as expected.
Tips to Overcome Challenges and Succeed in Playing the Violin
Teachers may play a major role in your education as a beginner violin player, but you must also do your part. Here are some tips on how you can make your beginner violin classes count:
- Find the right teacher. There are, however, many factors to consider here:
- Experience – This covers the number of years and the number of students they’ve taught.
- Students’ Feedback – Testimonials from students are often a more accurate measure of a music teacher’s skill and experience.
- Flexibility – Find a teacher who can accommodate your schedule and teach you when you’re free.
- Trust Factor – More than skill or experience, you should choose a teacher with whom you’re comfortable. The violin requires a certain posture and precise positioning of the instrument and bow, so your teacher may have to touch and move your arms and back in the right direction. For your peace of mind, find a teacher who makes you feel safe and comfortable.
- Fees – Just as tenure is not always a good measure of experience, the most expensive violin lessons won’t guarantee that you’ll become an advanced violinist in no time. So long as you trust the teacher and can afford his or her rates, follow your gut and sign up for those classes.
- Opt for private or one-on-one classes. A reinforcement on finding a violin teacher whom you can trust, one-on-one classes are more optimal for beginner adults because you can be 100% focused on your learning, and you’ll have your teacher’s full attention. Your instructor can immediately correct posture and technique errors before becoming habitual (something that can happen in group classes). Private instruction also lets you maximize the 30 to 45 minutes that you spend in class. With the focus solely on you, your classes can progress according to your learning speed and style.
- Continue learning beyond your classes. The best way to retain what you’ve learned in your violin classes is to integrate bits of them into your everyday life. Examples would be listening to simple violin pieces, working on your posture while sitting or standing in line, watching videos, and scanning music sheets on your mobile phone to practice sight-reading.
- Play music with your friends or family. One of the advantages of group classes is they’re more fun and students can motivate each other. If you have family members or friends who also play musical instruments, it will be fun to play a song or musical piece together. Choose a song, practice together and individually, then set a date for your performance. You can even video-record it so that you can share it with everyone else. Activities like these can motivate you to learn to play the violin faster and better.
If You Can Start Learning Today, Do It.
Age matters little in the grand scheme of things. If the discussion above is any indication, adults even have an advantage because they can understand instructions better and faster than young children. Moreover, there are plenty of opportunities for them to learn.
In Tampa, for example, where the median age is 36 and 65% of the population is between 18-64 years old, many music schools and private musical instructors offer beginner violin lessons for adults. What if you don’t live in a city with a predominantly older population? You can sign up for online classes or try out mobile apps for self-learners.
If you will it, you can learn how to play the violin as an adult. Take these tips to heart, and, more importantly, sign up for lessons and start as soon as possible.