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Am I really too old to start playing music?
An interesting blog post
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KindaScratchy
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April 24, 2016 - 6:33 pm
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That's the title of an interesting blog that I came across and which I thought would be of interest to many Fiddlerman members, as it's often a topic of discussion here.

Here's the lead paragraph:

The idea that people should start to play an instrument at a tender age if they want to stand a chance in music, is a by-product of the musical rat race. Only a competitive environment will actually care about how young you were when you started, or how many hours you’ve spent practicing scales. It all boils down to myth. The myth needs to talk about someone who was deprived of all childhood pleasures in the past, and that he/she has spent thousands of hours of patient practicing, so that you are now lucky enough to listen to this great musician. This is a convenient process through which we all inflate our egos. However, music should be all about having a normal life and leaving our little vanities aside. The notions of the ‘lost train to success’ and ‘hard work’ have shaped our conceptions about playing, learning and teaching music. They are the great obstacles between us and the enjoyment of music.

And here's a link to the full blog:

http://www.learningfiddle.com/.....ing-music/

When the work's all done and the sun's settin' low,

I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow.

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intrepidgirl
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April 24, 2016 - 9:30 pm
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Well said!  I am a believer that we are never too old.  In fact, learning new skills, whether it is violin or a new language, or blacksmithing, or who knows what, is what keeps us young.  

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Fiddlestix
Michigan, USA
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April 24, 2016 - 11:07 pm
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Excellent find, Di. The age old question, "am I too old to start". 

I'm 72 and my question is, " was I too young at age 10 to quit.  Hmmmm..., I think so.

dunnofacepalm

 

Ken.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
April 26, 2016 - 4:40 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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Never too old is correct.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Crazymotive
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May 6, 2016 - 8:50 pm
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I agree with The Fiddlerman. You are never too old to start playing music. You are  never  too old to start learning  any subject for that matter.

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kenny
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December 20, 2016 - 4:51 am
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You can learn to play at any time you want as long as you have the passion.It is never too late to learn anything.  

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stet
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December 20, 2016 - 5:27 pm
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I sometimes read that some saggest that small children should start learning violin even at the age of 3. I wonder if 3 years old is too old for someone to start learning the violin. Maybe the age of 1 year old is more appropriate than the age of 3.

Anyway.

Adults are smart.

Music can be a hobby or can be a profession.

Music also is big business and conservatories need customers. The more time children are studing music the better for the conservatoires. The reason is obvious, the more years you study the more you pay and of course the more you learn. Long time in studying music is really good if you are sure that your child will definitely become a professional musician.

But how can a parent of a child 7 years old can be sure about the profession his child will follow in his life? And how children 6-7 years old can be sure of what they want to do with their lifes? The rule I know says that almost nobody at the age of 6-7-8 knows what his profession will be after 10-15 years and there are only a few ecxeptions.

Conservatories and music schools are full of thousands of new students who are studying music for many years. Especially the violin studies last for 11 years and of course all these years parents have to pay.
How many of those many thousans students will become professional musicians and will earn enough money to support themselves and their families? I believe only a few. The rest of them will follow a different professional career.

So if someone wants to learn music and to play an instrument just as for a hobby, I doubt if it worths the money spending for all these years.

My experience as a father has shown to me that if you want your child to learn music, send it when it is older to a music teacher for lessons so that the child will be not obliged to follow the typical program of the conservatoire which lasts for all these 11 years. If parents want their children to know how to play a musical instrument, 3-4 years are enough. They will not become Vivaldi, but it does not matter, because they will probably follow a different career. Moreover, 10 -11 years in a music school will restrict child's free time and it will prevent the child from doing something else which can be more useful for his life.

After those 3-4 years, if the kid really wants to improve his music knowlenge, almost nothing will prevent him from taking lessons again or to try to expand his knowledge by teaching himself.

I know that many parents want the best for their children and they try to make them something like the Superman, they want their children to learn music, gymnastics, karate or ballet (if they are female), mathematics, dancing, football, tennis, or anything else you can imagine, all at the same time and they (parents) believe that all these things will be nesessary or useful for their children.

My thought is that age will not stop you If you want to learn music and violin, because you do not need to have an excellent physical condition if it is to learn music. You can start learning violin at the age of 50-60-70, as long as your there is not a major health problem.

But you can not learn some other things if you are 60-70. Other hobbies demand an ecxellent pfycical condition. For example you can not start learning Kick-Boxing or ballet if you are 60-70. Your boby will not be able to follow and it will be very difficult or even imposible to be acxepted in a kick boxing scool or a ballet school.
So in most cases, age (as long as someone is not 100 years youngbirthday-cake) will not stop him/her from learning music and violin if he wants to.

These are my thoughs but i really can't advice anyone or tell anyone that to do. smile

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
December 20, 2016 - 5:32 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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Interesting thoughts. I don't think a child can even want to play an instrument at 1 year old. LOL
I feel that it's a parents job to give the child a chance but not their job to decide their career or even if the child has a chance at having the career they desire. Just support them.
And I agree. You can learn till you are on your death bed. How much you learn is very much dependent on your drive and talent.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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MACJR
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December 20, 2016 - 7:26 pm
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I had wanted to get back to playing the violin since late 1974, or early 1975, when I had to give it up. But as the years passed, and then decades, I started to think that maybe I was getting to old to start playing the violin again. I still had hope for a time though.

I think it was just within this last year that I had decided that I was too old to start playing the violin. I finally accepted that dream was over.

And then my brother, who had also taken lesson, but one year behind me, bought a cheap, and I mean ultra cheap, violin online. He seemed to be enjoying himself, so I started looking into just how much it would cost to get a violin. I was not willing to go as low as $35, like my brother did, but I found that I could get a violin that rates fairly well for under $200, so I did (actually, with tax, it was something like $202 and change, and then add in a few supplies and at least one lesson book, and it was a bit over $220).

I found that I was clearly beyond rusty. I had forgotten most every violin lesson I had taken. I mean, I couldn't even play Mary Had A Little Lamb anymore, how bad is that?

But I kept at it. At first it was slow going. It took days to get through just the first few measures. But soon, I was able to get all the way through the tune. It seemed like it took forever, but in reality, it was not so long. Not for a beginner.

Now I am nearing my fourth month of teaching myself to play again, and I have, I feel, made very good progress. I still have a lot of refinement of basic skills to work on, but I am getting there.

It turns out that you can indeed learn to play the violin, even when you are nearing 55 years of age. And if you can do it in your mid 50s, I see no reason why you can't learn to play in your 60 or 70s, or later, as long as you are still able to hold a bow and violin.

I do not expect to ever reach virtuoso status. However, I will try for the best I can be, whatever skill level that turns out to be. I am not planning to go professional. This is just for my own enjoyment.

MACJR

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Fiddlerman
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December 21, 2016 - 8:29 am
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MACJR said ............I do not expect to ever reach virtuoso status. However, I will try for the best I can be, whatever skill level that turns out to be. I am not planning to go professional. This is just for my own enjoyment.

MACJR  

Very well said.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Fran
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December 21, 2016 - 4:03 pm
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Never too old. I'm restarting as of this June after 45 years of not playing.  It's my hobby, my joy and will take me wherever I land 🙂

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EnglishDave
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December 26, 2016 - 12:55 pm
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I truly believe the 'too old to learn....' mentality makes us old before our time. Of course there are physical limitations to some skills but those apart no, never too old.

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coolpinkone
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December 26, 2016 - 1:02 pm
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Of course we are never too late to learn.  Never ever too late to fulfill our dreams.  I wish I had stated at 36 instead of 46, but that's just  what I wish.    I never ever ever fall prey to the thinking that I am too old to learn to play.   I have long term ambitions that will take me where I want to go and nothing is going to stop me.  No excuses. 🙂

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Demoiselle
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December 26, 2016 - 6:19 pm
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EnglishDave said
I truly believe the 'too old to learn....' mentality makes us old before our time. Of course there are physical limitations to some skills but those apart no, never too old.  

WOW, this guy is amazing--swings like crazy!!

When I'm 99 and have a tremor I'll use the tremor to play the fastest phrases ever. LOL

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Fiddlerman
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December 27, 2016 - 8:46 am
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Very well said "EnglishDave". It kind of puts the breaks on any chance of learning or even attempting to learn. It's not accurate in any case. Obviously a child has a brain that absorbs information quicker and easier. They also have more time to focus on hobbies and such since their parents are taking care of life. 🙂

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Demoiselle
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December 27, 2016 - 12:47 pm
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I think it'a also a question of being ready to dump old junk out of my brain. People who cling to old stuff are not ready for new experiences. Important part are prejudices : if I judge other people, my own judgment will also harm me. And those who always disrespected seniors will later hate themselves. It also has to do with youth mania. Young people who feel like the world is all theirs and old people would be nothing but unsexy will not unlikely loose self-respect as soon as they age. Those who cannot revise these merciless ideas will be on the sidelines, while other aging people will still be active.

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Rosco
Connecticut
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December 30, 2016 - 11:15 pm
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I’m curious if any of my fellow senior students/players suffer physical backlash from long or multiple daily practice sessions. I enjoy a challenge and like to set aggressive goals. I’ve found that it sometimes comes with a price in shoulder, neck, wrist or hand pain. It’s no different than fly fishing too long or raking too many piles of leaves. Age often comes with arthritis, lost flexibility and easily strained muscles. I try not to let it limit or define me, but it’s a reality that younger players seldom have to deal with. If you’re an older player and your body gives you negative feedback from playing too long or too often, how do you deal with it or work around it?  

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MACJR
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December 30, 2016 - 11:50 pm
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Rosco said
I’m curious if any of my fellow senior students/players suffer physical backlash from long or multiple daily practice sessions. I enjoy a challenge and like to set aggressive goals. I’ve found that it sometimes comes with a price in shoulder, neck, wrist or hand pain. It’s no different than fly fishing too long or raking too many piles of leaves. Age often comes with arthritis, lost flexibility and easily strained muscles. I try not to let it limit or define me, but it’s a reality that younger players seldom have to deal with. If you’re an older player and your body gives you negative feedback from playing too long or too often, how do you deal with it or work around it?    

Although I am not officially a senior citizen yet, I am getting way too close to that status.  😉

Heck, next May, I will qualify for a lot of the senior citizen discounts, if not all of them yet.

I really cannot answer your question specifically, because I only practice once a day, and generally, for less than two hours a session. I do have to deal with a bad shoulder, two slipped disks in my back (with the middle back being a constant pain, especially while standing for prolonged periods), and other arthritis and joint issues from time to time. None of these things limit me too much at the moment though. I do have to take breaks every so often to relax, flex, and pop my back (yes, I learned how to pop my own back, since I live alone).

Part of what helps me out is that I do regular workouts. I work hard to keep my muscles toned and limber. I can still touch my knuckles to the floor while standing with knees together... but I used to be able to put my palms on the floor in that same position when I was younger though. Oh well.

Perhaps the most important thing would be to stretch and flex before, during, and after a violin practice session. That might help. Also, try not to push too hard, for too long, when you know your body needs a break. Otherwise, you really could hurt yourself in ways that will take a very long time to heal from.

MACJR

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Demoiselle
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December 31, 2016 - 3:55 am
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Rosco said
I’m curious if any of my fellow senior students/players suffer physical backlash from long or multiple daily practice sessions. I enjoy a challenge and like to set aggressive goals. I’ve found that it sometimes comes with a price in shoulder, neck, wrist or hand pain. It’s no different than fly fishing too long or raking too many piles of leaves. Age often comes with arthritis, lost flexibility and easily strained muscles. I try not to let it limit or define me, but it’s a reality that younger players seldom have to deal with. If you’re an older player and your body gives you negative feedback from playing too long or too often, how do you deal with it or work around it?    

I'm in my late 50s and have no issues with arthritis or strained muscles. In fact I had lumbago problems in my 30s and 40s, but this seems to have ended since baroque dance somehow changed my life. It is generally known that classical and modern ballet are extremely harmful. The pre-classical maitres de dance taught a form which was characterized by rationality and moderation : gallant philosophy. I compared it to the rules of the kind gymnastics, modern sports medicine is recommending. Baroque dance easily gets a pass, yoga does not. Modern sports physicians issue warnings against overdo, which are similar to those I read in books of the early 1700s maitres de dance.

So it's no wonder, I integrated my 1700s philosophy into my violin issues. When I started in May 2015 I tended to play too long, so I decided to make pauses mandatory. My rule is, after warming up I'm allowed to play just one movement of my Edition Peters baroque play-alongs and after it I have to pause. Some of them are about 2 minutes long, others 3, some even about 4, very few 5 minutes or more. I do interrupt the long ones if I feel a strain on my hands, for this is not gonna make my playing better. Playing without pausing is not just harmful to the body, I'm very sure it slows down progress. Because with aching, exhausted arms my sound gets worse and all kinds of mistakes increase. Under negative conditions like this I learn how to play badly.

I feel like pauses should be about as long as the interval of playing before. I don't stop exactly the time, I just do something else and continue playing as soon as I feel relaxed. Directly after having played for 3 minutes I'm definitely not relaxed and need to regain relaxation. It probably has to do with something women do mostly better than men : watching and knowing my own body and being able to tell its signs.

Also I think, playing the violin should be accompanied by gymnastic programs. It's worth to read books about modern gymnastics, written by sports physicians. That way you can prepare your body to withstand the strains of playing the violin. For aging people it should be compulsory anyhow, because muscle mass is degrowing otherwise. And with less muscle mass you will get problems even without playing the violin. On the long run it is not possible to spend retirement by just playing the violin and this is almost all physical activity. When office workers are young, they already sin against their health if they aren't physically active in their free time. And if they finally have lower back and joint problems in their 50s, it is not just because they age--it is the consequence of not doing enough all their life.

Stretching is an essential part of healthy gymnastics, to prevent sinews from getting too short. A lot of problems people consider unavoidable issues of age are just shortening sinews. Many people admire their cats because they stretch so beautifully, forgetting that humans are supposed to do the same thing. Cats do that, because it makes them feel better, while humans have so many things on their mind, that they unlearned how to physically feel better.

It is worth to invest some time into books about modern gymnastics. Which mostly is NOT the kind of gymnastics they possibly confront you in sports clubs. It is very crazy, but it seems people study sports and learn all the reasonable and healthy rules, but after all they go back to athletic cave man mentality: "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger." Which is not just stupid, but also harmful. Sports physicians mostly know better than trainers who buy into the stone age mentality in sports clubs and forget what they've once learned. That's why I recommend to read gymnastics books written by sports physicians.

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Demoiselle
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December 31, 2016 - 4:00 am
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Stone age mentality also is a mental condition of many brass instrument players (I also call it musical fascism). You cannot post health issues in a trumpet forum--it's just not the thing to do..... LOL

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