How Hard is it to Start to Play the Violin as an Adult

by | Sep 4, 2014 | Start to Play | 44 comments

Play the violin better by doing this effective warm up routine before you practice! You'll learn bow hand, sound and scale exercises.

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.

Hi! I'm Zlata

Classical violinist helping you overcome technical struggles and play with feeling by improving your bow technique.

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.

44 Comments

  1. Marlies

    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

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      Thanks for sharing, Marlies, I’m sure your comment will inspire others :).

      Reply
    • Sofía

      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!

      Reply
    • Franklin

      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.

      Reply
  2. earthling

    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.

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      Hi, thanks for your beautiful compliment. I hope you will enjoy many more videos here :).

      Reply
  3. Ann Cantrell

    Hi Zlata,

    Yes, this video was useful to me. It is good to be made aware of the realities of learning to play my violin.

    Thank you,
    Ann

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      Hi Ann, thanks for sharing and hope it motivates too :).

      Reply
  4. Raoul

    Dear Myrthe,

    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.

    Best regards,
    Raoul

    Reply
  5. Kristy

    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.

    Just wondering……
    I cannot afford a super expensive one.

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      Hi Kristy,

      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.

      Best regards,

      Zlata

      Reply
  6. Brandon

    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…

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      Hi Brandon, as long a you are willing to do the work you will certainly get there! All the best, Zlata

      Reply
  7. Chris Ward

    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!

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      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,
      Zlata

      Reply
  8. Marissa

    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 Zlata!

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      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,

      Zlata

      Reply
      • Marissa

        Zlata,

        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!

  9. Kristy

    Zlata,
    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.

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      Hi Kristy, the only way to find out is to just start, take lessons and practice a lot. All the best, Zlata

      Reply
  10. Marina Francis

    I had hired tutors but I reached no where. I am a very hard worker I can dedicate 4hrs

    Reply
  11. Salma ayman

    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?

    Reply
  12. SS

    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!

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      You’re absolutely right! Thanks for these inspiring words.

      Reply
  13. Yohan Silva

    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?

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      Hi Yohan,

      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!

      Reply
  14. amin

    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.

    Reply
  15. Julie Crowther

    Hello
    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
    Any advice?
    Thanks so much for your time
    Best Regards
    Julia

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      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

      Reply
  16. Lana

    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?

    Reply
  17. Sheila

    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.

    Reply
      • Charles Thompson

        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?

      • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

        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.

  18. John Johnston

    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!

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      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!

      Reply

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