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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?
Let's say just : violin players should generally also physically exercise, which is the only protection against postural defects. Strong muscles protect the skeleton against attrition. Secondly, pausing every couple minutes is just as important as playing.
(Oh my goodness, that was a long-long opus I've written up there!)
It's interesting to me how many people played violin when they were younger and gave it up for one reason or another. I fall into that category also. I started playing violin in the third grade in the Philadelphia public school system. In those days (yes, I am that old - LOL) most of the elementary schools in Phila had an orchestra. Wish we would get back to that in our schools, but that is another topic. I quit playing in tenth grade when we moved to New Jersey. For about the last 20 years I've wanted to get back to it. I'm 61 now, and in decent shape (i.e. I ride horses and practice yoga) and just got a violin for Christmas. I've recognized pretty quickly that shorter more frequent practice sessions will be the key - at least until I've built up some endurance in the proper muscles. My husband asked me if it was like riding a bike and I'd have to say no to that overall, but some things are unbelievably still ingrained after all these years. I'm fortunate that I have always been involved in music, so music literacy is already in place.
Philosophically, I think learning new things (or re-learning) is part of what keeps you mentally young. And beautiful music nourishes our soul. I hope to be making beautiful music very soon!
I think the key to working around physical limitations is having a good mental attitude and focus on what you want to do, and do what you can.
However, do not ignore the pain, that will only lead to worse problems. Instead, learn to adapt. Work around the problem areas, as best you can, if possible. Otherwise, do shorter practice/playing sessions, and/or take frequent breaks, so you do not overwork the problem areas more than you have to.
It works for me in dealing with my several health issues. I am strong as a small ox, but my body has been through a lot. I have to adapt, and endure, to keep on keeping on. Just the way it is. I am always in pain, but I do not focus on that, or let it stop me from living and doing the things I want to do... within reason.
It's interesting to me how many people played violin when they were younger and gave it up for one reason or another. I fall into that category also................. ....Philosophically, I think learning new things (or re-learning) is part of what keeps you mentally young. And beautiful music nourishes our soul. I hope to be making beautiful music very soon!
Exactly - and WELCOME to the forum @CyndieZ - although for me - not the bit about playing violin as a youngster - I only took it up at the age of 61 or whatever - I don't really recall my age exactly - LOLOL - but music has "been with me" throughout my earlier days with other instruments.
I'm absolutely CERTAIN you will find days where your playing and practise are just "exactly what you want" - and days when it all goes-to-hell-in-a-hand-cart - it happens..... LOL - but that's what makes us aspire to be better....
I wish you great success in your renewed violin quest !!!! ( It is a TRULY AWESOME journey. Well, for me, as a beginner, it is ! )
I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh -
Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)
I am glad that I found this thread because this question has been plaguing me a lot too. I have always wanted to play the violin ever since I started high school but I gave it up when I realized that I wasn't making much of a progress. Life got too busy after that so I couldn't get back to learning the violin. But the thought has always been in my mind. I eventually figured out that it was never to late to begin. I bought myself a violin and now I am attending classes thrice a week. I always feel relaxed and a lot calmer when I play the violin.
I love to hear "return to the violin stories.." It is what makes my heart beat.
Always eager to read this topic.
When I am strong physically I can play the violin better.
No one is ever to old to learn anything. If the body doesn't co-operate, that is another issue.. and I seen and heard great stories of people playing in their own way that their body allows.
#nevergiveup my friends.
Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato
I turned 40 last year and as (my wife calls it) my "mid-life crisis" selection decided to buy myself a violin after 'just thinking' about it for a few years. Been lurking on the forum for a while and in fact when I was considering starting my violin adventure these forums were a big help in deciding:
- my instrument purchase
- that I should find a teacher from day one
- to write down a practice routine
It's been nine months as of this week since I took my first of many weekly lessons and as an adult (versus my nine year old daughter who is learning the piano) I think the biggest takeaway I have from the experience is that my learning has been driven by thing that most kid learners don't necessarily need to muster: it's been purposeful, introspective and motivated by a genuine and deliberate desire to play better. No one is pushing me but me. It's not simple. It's not always steadily upwards. It's not always easy to squeeze even a few minutes out of the day to play. And it's too tempting to ignore the effort for a day or two.
"Am I too old to learn the violin" was literally the first thing I googled when I got serious, and there were some posts out there that implied the answer was yes... and maybe they're right. To be fair, I had some modest skills reading music, but still... I'll probably never turn this into a career. I'll probably never record an album. I'll probably never play the 24 caprices in a way that anyone would care to listen to.
But I have already found it a personally fulfilling experience to play for just myself, to perform for a window open to our neighbourhood, to learn curious new music, to jam with my wife (who now insists that I buy more sheet music with piano accompaniment) and to dip my toe into this community of budding musicians.
While it's far too early to say this has had much of any impact on my life, tracking my own overly-critical perception of my still-modest skills I think I would have to admit that I have proven to myself that I wasn't too old at all to start the violin.
In fact, had I started younger I think I might be a much more skilled player of this instrument... but far less of a musician, if that makes sense.
@8r4d I believe your sentiments are true for many of us adult learners. The love of learning and exploring is there for many of us in a way that most children don't experience.
Regarding physical limitations of practice, my right hand is generally swollen with arthritis. I find that the bowing motion is actually helping build flexibility and strength in that hand. When I watch video of myself my hand still looks so stiff, but I know for a fact that it is more flexible than when I started.
I do have to be careful with warming up properly and taking care not to practice too long. I have also incorporated hand flexibility exercises from a DVD called Healthy Hands - just started that so I don't know if it will help. Long story short, if you have physical limitations but you really want to play violin - just do it, find a good instructor who can help you adapt and overcome obstacles.
...........In fact, had I started younger I think I might be a much more skilled player of this instrument... but far less of a musician, if that makes sense.
Makes a lot of sense to me @8r4d !!!!!
We all "get there" in different ways - music has always been a pass-time to me during my "working life" - I've played guitar from the age of 15, other instruments in a passing-sort-of-way over the years - but then - at the age of 50 and looking towards what might be an "early" retirement if I could afford it, I spent about 5 years studying Spanish (intensively, I might add - because I love languages and it was one I was not proficient in). At 55, again over about 5 years, I took several courses in astronomy, astrophysics and so on, just because I love science ( my "true" background ).
And, at 60...... I finally found the violin
You have NO IDEA how complete I now feel....
You are never too old ! No way.....
Enjoy your journey @8r4d - self-analyses and self-criticism - I 100% get that - we strive to be the best we can be - not for self-aggrandizement - but purely for pleasure.... it is what we do......
I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh -
Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)
I'm pushing 60 but am fairly agile and flexible. But at times I find it difficult to spread my fingers, especially if I play a Bb major scale legato. My teacher wanted me to keep all four fingers down consistently. She was in her mid-30s and had started as a young child. And she obviously expected too much from me. There's a young violinist who belongs to the famous Symphony orchestra in Sydney and he said on YouTube it's NOT necessary to keep all fingers down. So my teacher was really merciless, who was over 20 years younger and had started very early.
But the fact, that my fingers would be more flexible, if I had started earlier, will not discourage me. I play mostly in the keys G, C, F and their minor parallels e, a, d, plus g minor. G minor is less difficult than B major, although it's more of a stretch than d minor. Basically I play B major only on days when I feel very well and avoid g minor on days when I feel rather bad. Eb major is out of any discussion. I don't see that for the next few years.
I think the young guy in Australia is right. Stretching is really an awful stretch because if I stretch very hard, I cannot relax. It includes then pressing fingers on strings because it's impossible to do it gently if I struggle with an awful stretch.
I feel like older people have to compromise more with the violin. I'm not gonna force myself to do things I obviously cannot do. As an improviser I have always the choice to not do things which seem too hard. In B major I will probably play more long notes to not waste my power. Otherwise I will lack strength even in other keys afterwards and tire sooner than I want. Possibly later in a performance, in church or whatever. So I have to learn saving my energy in time, especially as an older person.
To make it clearer: I will very likely keep all fingers down if I play a legato phrase in a minor. But in g minor there are some areas where I will most certainly not do it. I will either play a non-legato phrase, although my intent had been legato in the first place. Or I will play legato and lift my first and second finger soon. My teacher was obviously able to always keep them down because she was younger and had started as small child. Her bones adapted to the violin over decades before they completely hardened.
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.
Good example of this is my nephew Jake who has played piano since he was 5 or 6. His video of his 11th grade solo recital is posted in the break room! He is fabulous BUT, he plans to pursue a career as a lawyer! Now, my sister and brother in law did NOT intend for him to be a professional musician! She just believed in allowing her children to pursue their passions! I do believe in that route, even if the child changes their mind about what they wish to be! He will always have his music!
"Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one".- Albert Einstein
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