How Hard is it to Start to Play the Violin as an Adult
You might have heard the violin is the most difficult instrument to play…
However, if you start to play the violin and put in the work, you can get beautiful results as an adult beginner
Certainly in the first years it’s possible for adults to learn as fast as a child
In this episode of Violin Lounge TV I answer a question from a viewer:
Hi Zlata, I just found your YouTube channel and I’ve got a couple of questions about the electric cello. Quite some years ago I have had one year of cello lessons. I think I was about ten years old. Unfortunately at the time I lost my motivation and and stopped. Now, years later, I regret that I stopped and didn’t push through at the time. My question: Is it possible as a nineteen years old to start playing the (electric) cello? How hard/difficult is it going to be? I know one learns faster as a child, so I’m afraid I’m not going to succeed. I hope you could share some tips with me how I can succeed ‘against the odds’ in learning to play the cello. Best regards, Myrthe
First I would like to recommend my video ‘Is it too late to start playing the violin’ (or viola or cello), which is all about starting to play the violin, viola or cello being an adult. Myrthe is afraid that she can never learn as fast as a child learns. This is not entirely true.
Learning music can be compared to learning a language.
Music is not a language, but the learning process is quite similar. The Suzuki school/method is based on this principle: learn music like you learn your mother tongue. Let’s take this comparison a bit further: What if you are an adult and you want to learn French or another foreign language you are not familiar with yet. When you put in a lot of effort for two years, you can probably speak French better than a French two years old born and raised in France.
As an adult you are used to learning things. Your memory works better, you analyze things better and you can comprehend things.
You are far more developed than a child in many areas. Besides that you have already learned another language being your mother tongue. The same way you can learn to speak a language, you can learn to play music.
Myrthe is afraid she will not succeed… before I can answer that I need to know: in what exactly do you expect to succeed or not?
Would you like to play in an amateur orchestra, have fun making music, being able to play some tunes you like and share your music with friends?
Are you planning to have weekly private lessons for the next five years and practice daily to achieve that goal? Sure, this is perfectly possible! Start today! When your goal is to play on stage and be a professional in three years with little effort, I recommend to adjust these goals to more realistic ones.
Join my FREE beginner violin course
I take you from scratch step by step to your first violin concerto including 40 videos, sheet music and violin tabs.
Will it be hard or difficult? Yes, absolutely!
Bowed instruments are difficult to learn. They are very complex and sensitive instruments, so it takes a lot of good quality lessons and good quality practice to be able to play some simple tunes beautifully and achieve the realistic goal described above. Are you committed to do what it takes? Is your goal realistic? Is the time path to achieve this goal realistic? If so, you will be able to succeed!
Learning to play the violin, viola or cello takes a lot of time, energy and money.
Sorry, I’d like to be honest and I don’t want to make it any prettier than it is. If you like practicing, playing around with your instrument and sorting things out, than it won’t be hard or difficult. You will have fun along the way. That’s the most important thing. If you don’t like practicing, reconsider playing a musical instrument like the violin, viola or cello. Practicing is what you will do 90% or more of the time you spend with your instrument. Even if you are a professional, you still need to maintain your skill set and still need to practice and prepare for your performances. I’m sure you can have lots of fun with the violin, viola and cello (electric or acoustic) and I can tell from my own experience it’s worth all the effort. It’s worth doing what it takes. I hope I have shared some valuable information and motivated you to start anyway.
Dear zlata and Myrthe,
I inhereted a violin and thought about what to do with it. I am 56 years of age and I decided to find me a teacher and just try for a few months. I did not have much music experience, except a flute at school when I was 15 or so.
I have a dedicated teacher and I have had so much fun ex uring the past two years. It is very difficult and it takes a lot of practising, but every week I learn something new. I now am learning Riedings concert nr 35. Quite something being beginner. So if you really want to and do not mind practising, just start and I am sure with Zlata’s help you will achieve quite something.
kind regards, Marlies
Thanks for sharing, Marlies, I’m sure your comment will inspire others :).
Ok so im 54 and i just got a violin and dontknow how to play it but i saw this video on how to play and it is very easy not hard.
Great Suvanna, have you seen my free beginner course? https://violinlounge.com/learn-to-play-the-violin-free-beginner-course/
Oh Marlies, I’m just listening to that piece. It is wonderful. Best of luck to you and congratulations for your fruitful efforts.
I just started taking classes two months ago and can’t seem to get my mind off practising. I get frustrated every now and then but it is just natural, right?
Thank you gals so much for sharing your experience!
I’m 49 and I love the violin and want to
learn how to play it and make my own music.. however I am new to this instrument. It’s scary enough knowing how difficult it can be. Any tips that you can give me? Please reply.. thanks.
If you put in the work, you’ll definitely get there. Start with my free beginner course right here :).
Omg thank you! I am 61 and considering trying to learn to play the violin. I too have limited musical experience
I played a french horn for only one year when I was 12 years old.
Maybe I’ll give it a try.
As a child I always liked the violin. Even today at my age at 55, I thought it would be a lost cause to even think of lessons. Thsnk you for your inspiration Marlies!
If you’re enjoying it and making progress, even if it seems like small steps, it’s definitely not a lost cause, Diane.
Dear Zlata, Hope yu are doing well.Thank yu for your weekly video by email. I really appreciate it. I hope the universe gives you much more than what you are giving to students like us. It has been almost 2 years since I started learning to play the violin. I started my journey with the violin late in life. But as you said, if there is passion for learning and a good, inspiring teacher i guess it becomes easy. I follow your videos regularly and will join the Violin Lounge Academy as soon as i can afford it. Thankyu so much.
Hi, thanks for your beautiful compliment. I hope you will enjoy many more videos here :).
I play electric and acoustic guitar and I am very much interested in learning violin but the intimidation has prevented me so far. I wanna know does the fact that I already play an instrument help with the violin or should I just consider myself an absolute beginner?
Yes, you would be a beginner on the violin, but as you play guitar you will go much faster than complete beginners. In the Violin Lounge Insiders Facebook group you can see the fast progress of a beginner on the violin with 29 years experience on the guitar and it’s amazing.
Yes, this video was useful to me. It is good to be made aware of the realities of learning to play my violin.
Hi Ann, thanks for sharing and hope it motivates too :).
I do hope you started the cello again.
I’m 31 years of age and started playing the violin 2 years ago.
I had some doubt when I started, but it’s been a rich and fullfilling experience and I still love playing the violin everyday.
Starting with some easy lessons I’m now learning a concerto of Vivaldi. And I love every struggling moment fingering my way through the movements.
And yes it’s also thanks to Zlata who has been a great assistance in choosing the violin I’m playing on.
Thanks for your supportive message, Raoul!
So I was wondering what sort/grade of violin would be appropriate to purchase for my husband. He started playing the violin at the age of 3 and played until he was 23 (In MSU’s orchestra). He threw away his violin when he graduated. He suffers from severe mood swings (bi-polar). We are now in our mid-30s…… I know you forget a lot of stuff when you don’t play in a long time.
I cannot afford a super expensive one.
It’s really difficult to buy a violin for someone else. Certainly when that person has played for twenty years. I can understand that you want to surprise him, but please do that by making an appointment at a violin shop or by renting a violin for him.
I’m 20 years of age and as a young teenager I’ve always wanted to play the eletric cello, though I was already pouring most of my time in with horse riding and school I had no motivation to try it out till recently my wanting to play the cello has come round again and I want to put my thoughts into action.
I’ve had the same issue where i think I’m now at an age where I won’t be able to learn how to play this particular instrument…
I do one day hope to play well enough to make the music sound nice.
At this point in time with full time study and caring for my horse I lack the time and the money for lessons right now, but within half a year or so I want to take up lessons, Im just a tad scared I won’t get anywhere with it…
Hi Brandon, as long a you are willing to do the work you will certainly get there! All the best, Zlata
Hi, I was wondering how challenging it is going to be for me to pick up the violin. I’ve put it off for a long time because I’m worried it is going to be too hard to memorize the correct positions of notes. I am going from playing a nice Ovation stage guitar, a seven string Washburn electric and transitioning to a new five string electric bass which is a very good value for the money. I feel like I should just get a guitar and remove the frets before giving this a shot. I don’t want to spend a lot of money and end up in endless frustration. I HONESTLY feel the frets have become too much of a crutch. Well, here is the violin I am considering getting (it is electric): http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/WAV5VNAB . Thanks for your help!
Hi Chris… well, learning to play the violin is challenging for everybody, but the fact that you already play guitar will certainly speed things up. I’ve sold the NS design in my shop and it’s a good violin. The only thing is that you can only use their shoulder rests and chinrests. In the same price range, also consider the Wood Stingray.
All the best,
I love watching your videos. You’re radiant and seeing how happy just teaching makes you keeps me motivated to reach my goal.
I am 30, and have finally decided to go for it! I’ve always wanted to- but was a woodwind player and could not do both for the time.
I’ve begun on the violin. I wanted to ask what a realistic expectation for playing in a group would be if I switched to the viola?
A good first goal would be to gain acceptance to a community orchestra. Is it realistic to strive to play in a professional orchestra? Or should I continue to just enjoy the process of learning and look forward to doing this just for my own enjoyment?
Thanks for your compliment, Marissa, I’m glad my videos motivate you!
If you switch to viola the changes of playing in an orchestra are bigger, as the parts are easier and violists are quite scarce.
Well… a professional orchestra… the chance that adult beginners reach a professional level is really really small and requires the famous 10.000 hours of practicing at least and a conservatory training (which is hard to get on a later age). Just enjoy the learning experience and see where you’ll get.
All the best,
Thanks for your honest reply! I’ve seen mixed opinions while searching online, and I wasn’t sure how much of it was people having the experience to give realistic advice, and how much of it was people with no or limited professional experience encouraging others with the “you can do anything you set your mind to!” philosophy.
I look forward to watching more of your videos!
I am 15 years old and I have always loved the violin, I’ve wanted to learn how to play it but I am not sure if I will like it or not, I am also not sure if I will be good at it I have a little bit of difficulty with many things and was just looking for your input.
Hi Kristy, the only way to find out is to just start, take lessons and practice a lot. All the best, Zlata
I had hired tutors but I reached no where. I am a very hard worker I can dedicate 4hrs
Hi Marina, I would love and be thrilled to help you out in the Gold level of the Violin Lounge Academy. See http://www.violinloungeacademy.com All the best, Zlata
I love violin but the problem is that i don’t know where and how do i have to start learning it i know nothing about it and i really want to play it so can you help me and tell me what is the first thing i need to know?
Check out these videos: https://violinlounge.com/start-to-play-violin-viola/
I am not a musician but love music. At the age of 50 I decided to learn violin and found a dedicated teacher, and have been learning since one and half years. I make it a point to practice (whether it is scales or small pieces) every day at least for an hour. Believe me, I did a solo performance to a small group of audience a couple of days ago and it was so satisfying. I will be appearing for Grade 3 this year, straight!!. All that you require is to break the inhibition (that your age will not allow you to do something) and determination. I read some where (as a response to a similar question about difficulties in learning violin as an adult) that “we are not going to win Wimbledon tournaments definitely, but surely will be able play tennis with our grand children” . Think that is precisely true!
You’re absolutely right! Thanks for these inspiring words.
Im 15 years old and ive had the love for music since i was a baby. I really would like to learn the violin. Im also a pianist who started doing music in the age of 5. So will learning a violin be that much of a challenge to me? I practice the piano everyday so if i do the same with the violin how long will i take to master it?
Thanks for sharing! Your piano playing will certainly help you when you learn to play violin. How long it takes you to master it depends on how you define ‘mastering’, how much you practice, if you have a good teacher and of course talent.
Good luck and have fun!
I bought my first violin 3 yrs ago when I was 22 and I go to class for 2 or 3 months but if I want to be honest, I am self learner person so I stopped my class and also I storied my violin but after 3 yrs, the last month, I started to try playing violin and I think the result is good for me as a beginner without teacher and now I can play some simple musics like Godfather some Iranian musics and etc. I think the most important object is willing and working continuously which I hope do it.
This is perhaps a silly question but, I am 56 as well cannot ( yep cannot ) read music …..is it even possible to learn the violin or any instrument for that matter …will I learn along the way ? I played violin for 1 year as a child aged 10, not sure how I managed as I’m sure I couldn’t read music lol but I regret stopping so very much …I really want to try but can guess that it would frustrate a teacher not knowing music
Thanks so much for your time
Certainly, Julia, my beginner course ‘Violin Lounge Basics’ is all about learning the basics of violin playing without learning notes. In this way you can focus on playing and yes, you’ll learn notes later. Join here: http://www.violinloungeacademy.com
Hi. I just wanted to say that I love the violin and have always wanted to play it. I’m 19 (will be 20 this year) and have heard that it’s a really hard instrument to play and that it might not even be possible for me to learn to play it anymore.
But, the real problem for me is that in my country, violin isn’t a really big thing. I’m not sure there’s even one professional violinist here. So, there are no teachers, no classes I could take to learn how to play one. All I know is that I can be very dedicated to it and I really want to learn how to play. So, do you have any advice for me?
Hi Lana, how wonderful you want to learn to play the violin! At your age this is certainly possible. You can get started with my free beginner course: https://violinlounge.com/learn-to-play-the-violin-free-beginner-course/. When you want to learn more about bowing technique, check out http://www.bowlikeapro.com and when you want to learn more about vibrato, check out http://www.freeyourvibrato.com For general lessons, check out the Violin Lounge Academy is http://www.violinloungeacademy.com
I’ve been playing the violin now for a year and I’m struggling. I want to quit. I played as a child for I think four years and picked it up again 30+ years later. Help.
Follow my free beginner course http://violinlounge.com/beginnercourse and watch some of the 300+ violin lessons I have on this website. I hope they help you progress and find back your motivation.
I am 67 years old, with no musical experience since I received a bit of musical theory instruction in 7th grade. On the plus side, I am a retired, disciplined corporate lawyer wno pursues a range of differing interests with some success. Any prospect for success in this context?
Of course there is, Charles, it matters what you define as success… is it to enjoy playing and music and perhaps joining a local amateur orchestra in some years? With hard work you’ll certainly get there. Check out my free beginner course right here.
I started violin lessons about 6 months ago. I am 71 years of age. I have a very excellent instructor. It is not easy, by any means.
I am still developing pizzicato technique. I still have to concentrate on posture, proper left hand position and straight wrist. I have read articles that say violin is “easy”. OK, perhaps, but not easy for me!
Hi John, thanks for sharing your experience! Nope, violin isn’t easy, it’s very difficult and takes a lot of time and effort… for everyone. But it’s al worth it!
Hi I played the flute for about 3 years starting early 40’s ( from scratch ) but due to asthma & now 48 I’d like to learn the violin. Will my flute playing help
I can dedicate an hour or more a day to practice.
Awesome, Lisa, welcome!
Excellent Article.Really, learning to play the violin requires effort.
Thanks for reading!
I’m 51 years young, I have the most gorgeous violin I can dream of….it is ‘the violin of my life’ which I bought in 2014 after 7 years of learning….I then put the violin down (family/money problems) until 4 months ago now have picked it up again and am going back to basics to improve both my left and right hand.
I do not want to be a professional however I will NOT be happy settling for ‘easy’ tunes, I WANT to one day play all my favourite music and this includes difficult staff like the Bruch violin concerto, the Tchaikowski, Sarasate’s pieces and why not some paganini….I do not have to play these to a paying audience, I’d be happy even to play them to myself or just my couple of friends (I only have a handful of friends) or maybe some work colleagues for fun…
I hope I am not being delusional that I can perhaps one day play what are considered some of the hardest violin pieces out there? I don’t think I will feel accomplished unless I do!
Those are definitely challenging pieces, so it will certainly take a lot of time, but if you practice a lot and have good teachers… who knows!
Hello I would like to learn to play the violin. If I was to buy a beginner “type” violin would you be able to recommend something available on Amazon? I admit I do not even know how to read music so maybe this is a foolish endeavor but I would like to try. Any recommendation you give is greatly appreciated. I also am 56 years old as well, so it may be difficult to teach an old dog new tricks but I am willing to learn.
You can find my recommendations and reviews on beginner violins to buy online right here.
I bought myself a violin as my retirement present to myself. I’d heard of a woman who started at 72 and made in into an orchestra, which inspired me to grab the stings by the horns. Pun intended,
When I was a child (12), no music teacher would take me on. They wanted 4-5-year-olds. Luckily a trumpet teacher took pity on me, and I went from zero to 1st chair in a few months.
But there was always a gaping hole in my life. In my Youth Orchestra days I could only study the strings from the back row.
Now, I was always told that the violin is the hardest instrument in the orchestra to play. My recent experience with the instrument has taught me that that’s pure Bologna. Having tried all the orchestral strings, now, I can tell you that the violin is by far the easiest.
So where does this myth that the violin is the hardest come from? Simple. It’s not the instrument that’s hardest. It’s the MUSIC!
Just passed Grade 8 and am aiming to make it into our local Philharmonic. Zlata Brouwer rules!
Wow, so great that you could finally pursue your violin dream!
I hope this isn’t inappropriate but you have a beautiful smile. How long till I can’t play Bach’s sonatas and partitas for solo violin. Every since I heard Heifetz play this it is my favorite.
Thank you, Jacob, how long it takes to play Bach’s sonatas and partitas all depends on how much you practice, how talented you are, how fast you learn, if you meet the right teacher etc. Also some movements are much harder than others. Besides that: we will stay students of these works for our entire lives. I play them for almost twenty years, but I keep discovering and learning new things.
It’s possible if you practice 40hrs. every day. Also better try something less sacreligious than an electric instrument. I’d you still want to play electric, I’ll suggest you try viola.
I’ve always wanted to play a violin and as a child I hated modern music but embraced opera and classical. But always said after I done my time in the Navy I would look into it. A young lady i knew at school was learning the Cello and she later became my wife, but had stopped playing years earlier. She died suddenly at 46. I had to run our coach business alone so put off learning again. Now after fighting cancer for 8 years in retired on health grounds and see no hope of ever attaining this desire. It’s the most wonderful sound in my opinion. Especially the melancholic tunes, like Hymn to Hope. So as long as I can listen to violin music, I will be overjoyed.
Thank you for sharing your story, Bill, hopefully the violin will still bring you a lot of joy in this way.