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How Long Does It Take?
As an adult beginner, how long does it take to get good enough to...
Topic Rating: 4.5 Topic Rating: 4.5 Topic Rating: 4.5 Topic Rating: 4.5 Topic Rating: 4.5 Topic Rating: 4.5 (18 votes) 
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JoeP
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May 14, 2013 - 7:36 pm
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This is a question for teachers of adult beginners and for adult beginners with a few years playing...

With no previous musical background how long does it take to get good enough to:

1)  Play in a community orchestra / ensemble

2)  Play solo for friends and family where it's actually fun for all involved

3)  Play solo at a local park or coffee shop

4)  Play solo at a local small casual outdoor concert

5)  Play rock and blues, well

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Picklefish
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May 14, 2013 - 9:46 pm
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 Depends on your own musical aptitude, any physical limitations, time practicing, weather or not you have a teacher and etc...

So me, someone who reads music, has a decent ear for intonation, understands theory, occaissionally has a teacher and practices 30 min to 1 hour per day, highly focused practices geared towards correcting issues and improving 2 years. For all of the above questions.

I started playing my practice sessions in parking lots of Wal marts and the Public Parks,.Then I joined my church orchestra. Then I played for my family, I havent done any performances in a coffee shop or similar establishment and I dont do rock n blues. I like classical myself.

 

Of course we are all different and if you have high aptitude and ability you will be quicker possibly than I.

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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coolpinkone
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 It is hard for me to say. I like the questions and look forward to some answers... my first three months were not very dedicated now that I think of it.

I had lessons about 10-12..those helped A LOT... but I was not still motivated to practice as I should.. I was hard on myself..and didn't like the sound that was coming out of my violin.  And it made me sore.. hand... shoulder.. etc.

I turned a corner recently with practice.. It feels better.. when I try to make a change.. a little change happens.. knowing 10 or so songs by heart to work on and fill 30-40 minutes with music.

I think this year two is going to have a lot of progress.

 

I have never  played in an orchestra, band or anything... so I can't really answer. 

Great Topic.

Toni

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Kevin M.
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May 15, 2013 - 10:53 am
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This is a question that can't be answered. Everyone is different. Playing for friends could mean playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. The question should be How long will it be before you yourself feel confident enough to play. Let's face it, starting at an older age we don't have dreams of being a master but we have dreams of enjoying ourselves and entertaining our family. This is the important part of playing violin, enjoying it.

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pky
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I agree with Kevin, it's a question that depends on the player's personality and ability. I I have been playing violin on and off for about 1.5 years and have started to take lessons for about six months now. I play in front of people (little people and up -- age 0 to ...) a lot. My most supportive "audience" are those little people, they clap for me even when I just make sound or make mistakes:) The more I play for them the more comfortable I get. I played in two recitals one was great and one was bad bad BAD! So bad that even my 7-year old daughter felt sorry for me and another student who was not going to play because she thought she was not good enough decided to play because I made a lot of mistakes.  I practice in front of my family a lot, but not playing for them. So, to be able to play comfortably in front of others, for adults, it really depends on yourself and how supportive your audience are. It's harder for adults because you are an expert in one way or the other and it is a challenge to pick up an instrument and have to show your "weakness" (I'm speaking for myself, not for the rest of  you).

I supposed if one practice 30 to 60 minutes a day, taking lessons, making good or great progress, one should be able to play in community orchestra (again, it depends on the orchestra, too; one can always go for the audition and hope to be accepted:)) in two to three years (Suzuki book 4 and beyond :) ). Again, this is just my own point of view and given that one has to be able to read music and practice everyday.

 

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Fiddlerman
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May 16, 2013 - 2:56 pm
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For some, you can get that done in a years time depending on talent and time dedicated to learning and level of expectancy from the community orchestra or local coffee shop, or what have you.....
For others, it can take many many years. So many factors that would determine the length of time required.

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

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Composer
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Ugh.  The responses so far have been nonsensical to be kind.   There isn't any grey zone in violin like a piano.  You either are competent or no one will want to listen to you.  Anything less than 4 hrs/day practice is basically a waste of time because it requires intense concentration that can last at most for 20 minutes at a time.  And then you need a substantial break to relax.  So 4 hrs turns into 3 hrs right off the bat.  Take 1 hr for tone production, and 2 hrs for scales and arpeggios and the day is done without consideration for a lot of misc stuff that has to be done as well.

What can you do in 60 minutes?   Pulling a good tone from the instrument is impossible...talent is not even an issue.  I'm not making this stuff up.  A professional soloist will have practiced 8 hrs/day for long periods of time.   Its slow going ...Dorothy Delay said as much..."its time consuming".

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Donald
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June 9, 2013 - 3:04 am
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Fiddlerman´s answer (see above) was correct. The answer is one year, approximately, for students, from the time they first pick up a violin and receive weekly lessons from a teacher to the time when they can join an orchestra (without being a disgrace). (Question 1.)

 

My only evidence for supporting that estimate of "1 year" is personal experience. The high school I attended included a music school (the music school has since been expanded and is now known as the James Forbes Academy, you can find it on the internet). Anyone who started learning an instrument was brought into the orchestra after they had completed one year of tuition. (For prodigious beginners the waiting period would be shorter, or for the tone deaf indefinitely longer.)

 

I do not play the violin, nor was I a member of the orchestra, but I still know what the routine induction process was because I was a student of the music school for 6 years - instrumental, and between 2 and 4 years - theory. 

 

All the figures given by Composer like "8 hours", "20 minutes", "4 hours" and so forth indicate that Composer either misunderstood the original 5 questions or is not interested in providing a helpful contribution to the replies.

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pky
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JoeP said
This is a question for teachers of adult beginners and for adult beginners with a few years playing...

With no previous musical background how long does it take to get good enough to:

1)  Play in a community orchestra / ensemble

See my answer above

2)  Play solo for friends and family where it's actually fun for all involved

3)  Play solo at a local park or coffee shop

4)  Play solo at a local small casual outdoor concert

Answers for 2, 3, & 4 is it all depends on you. I could do all three to be obnoxious
or to entertain myself as well as my audience.

5)  Play rock and blues, well

As for 5) I don't know because I don't play rock or blues -- I don't know any.

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Composer
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"you can get that done in a years time depending on talent and time dedicated to learning and level of expectancy from the community orchestra"

This is so vague that it doesn't qualify as a reasonable answer.   Donald's support of vagueness is somewhat amusing. 

I will make the question concrete.  How long does it take to learn to play the Flesch scale system (which is available on this site)?  Certainly, any credible orchestra should expect someone to be able to do that.

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TerryT
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As Donald stated, it was his opinion, and in this site we relish ALL opinions. That way, we can do our own thinking and not be spoon fed information that may or may not be useful to us

I was born with nothing,
and to my surprise I still have most of it left!

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Picklefish
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Ugh.  The responses so far have been nonsensical to be kind.   There isn't any grey zone in violin like a piano.  You either are competent or no one will want to listen to you.  Anything less than 4 hrs/day practice is basically a waste of time because it requires intense concentration that can last at most for 20 minutes at a time.  And then you need a substantial break to relax.  So 4 hrs turns into 3 hrs right off the bat.  Take 1 hr for tone production, and 2 hrs for scales and arpeggios and the day is done without consideration for a lot of misc stuff that has to be done as well. What can you do in 60 minutes?   Pulling a good tone from the instrument is impossible...talent is not even an issue.  I'm not making this stuff up.  A professional soloist will have practiced 8 hrs/day for long periods of time.   Its slow going ...Dorothy Delay said as much..."its time consuming".

 

 

You obviously didnt read his question, lol or understand it. So to be kind back to you I politely mention that I think you are wrong. I agree with you that unfocused practice can take hours, and that it does take quite a bit of time and dedication to sound competent on the thing but there is tons of grey area hense the popularity of bluegrass and oldtime music. Im pretty sure most of those guys didnt follow yer advice. But hey Keep at it!

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Picklefish
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Composer said
"you can get that done in a years time depending on talent and time dedicated to learning and level of expectancy from the community orchestra"

This is so vague that it doesn't qualify as a reasonable answer.   Donald's support of vagueness is somewhat amusing. 

I will make the question concrete.  How long does it take to learn to play the Flesch scale system (which is available on this site)?  Certainly, any credible orchestra should expect someone to be able to do that.

 

My church orchestra didnt expect that and Melbourne community orchestra is happy if you show up instrument in hand.

Why are you advocating the Flesch scale system when you yourself said scales were useless for learning the instrument. am I misinformed?

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Picklefish
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This is so vague that it doesn't qualify as a reasonable answer.   Donald's support of vagueness is somewhat amusing.

 

There is no one size fits all answer, it really depends on many things. For Composer its an impossible task so why try?

For Fiddlerman with decades of experience it seems to be quite attainable provided its worked towards.

Hmm, who to believe...who to believe?

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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DanielB
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@JoeP:  Well, I don't have a few years on violin yet.. But I have some years on other instruments and have done some of the things on your list, so I'll chime in and maybe you'll find some of it relevant.

 

1.) Community Orchestra/Ensemble.  -  Haven't done that.  

2.) Play solo for friends and family where it's actually fun for all involved -  As soon as you have the cojones and the sense of humor to give it a shot.  That could be day #1, if you're wild and crazy enough.

3.) Play solo at a local park or coffee shop - With the park, what's stopping you?  I went down to the park to play a few times in my first year with violin.  That was probably at 3 or 4 months.  Sometimes people would stop to listen for a while.  Try it, it's cool.   A coffeehouse, well if they have an open mic that doesn't require an audition, you could do it starting whenever you want.  If it does have an audition, then go and see if you can pass it, if you want to play there.  

4.) Play solo at a local small casual outdoor concert -I've done those in years gone by, both in bands and solo.  Also helped organize some of those events.  As one of the people who had a say in who got to play, I can tell you that some of the people who played had been at it for less than a year, but they had a couple songs or maybe a few songs down well enough to give it a shot. 

I got asked to do something somewhat similar (but not solo) for a local community event last year where they hoped I'd show up with violin (or anything else I play would have been ok as well).  Maybe a little different than what you mean, though.  For this event you just got a sheet of music and show up and play, no rehearsals or etc.  Fairly large number of area musicians participating, some coverage by local media.  That was at about 6 months on violin, so I'd say it is possible any time after 6 months for sure.

I didn't do that event, but it was because of family obligations and short notice, not because I wasn't "good enough" for that sort of gig. 

5.) Play rock and blues, well - LOL  Problem is, you'd have to define "well".  Are we talking you get applause, you get paid, or what?   It depends on other factors too.  What kind of other musicians you're playing with the repertoire, the crowd.

 

A lot of the things you listed, though, Joe.. They aren't about being "good enough", or at least that isn't entirely it.  You can play so good it would make the ghost of Jascha Heifetz himself weep.. But if you don't network with other musicians, take a chance and play in front of other folks, audition for a gig you want (even if *you* don't think you'd get it), then you can still end up never playing for a bigger audience than the 4 walls in some room of your house.  For at least some of the things you listed, it is more about finding or creating the opportunity or just plain going ahead and trying it than it is about being "good enough". 

But having gone back and listened to your take of Londonderry Air in November, even right then you could have just gone and done some of the stuff on your list.  It isn't a lack of being "good enough" that is holding you back from those things.  That is true of quite a few people here, though.  Playing for friends and family, playing in a park, trying a coffeehouse.. Why haven't you?

All I'm saying is that other then the last item, which only specifies being able to play blues or rock *well*, all the rest of it falls under stuff where just getting "good enough" won't get you there.  Networking, doing a little promotion, maybe hitting a few auditions, and with some of it, just getting out there and doing it are what you're probably lacking so far.  If nobody knows you're there, then it may not matter how good you ever get.  

Now, if you mean doing all those things and actually going over well with the audience?  Well, there's never a guarantee on that for anyone.  But you try it and you see.  How listeners/audience react to your music is some of the feedback you need to get good, I think.  Finding out what goes over and what doesn't is part of how you fine-tune your sound and your selections.

 

@Composer:

"Certainly, any credible orchestra should expect someone to be able to do that."

  LOL  So you don't actually know either?   Well, at least you admit it.   Didn't expect you did, actually, since i don't recall you ever mentioning being involved in orchestras as either administration (who would actually decide such things) or as one of the players (who have to live with such decisions). 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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alexh
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I'm by no means an experienced violin player, but I'll offer what I can on 5.

I've found that most rock songs are really easy to play on violin; I was able to follow vocal lines within a week or so (with some guitar experience though)

I'll quote Jimi Hendrix on the blues part: "The blues are easy to play, but hard to feel."

I suppose that may also apply to the violin(?)

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DanielB said

@Composer:

"Certainly, any credible orchestra should expect someone to be able to do that."

  LOL  So you don't actually know either?   Well, at least you admit it.   Didn't expect you did, actually, since i don't recall you ever mentioning being involved in orchestras as either administration (who would actually decide such things) or as one of the players (who have to live with such decisions). 

@DanielB, I don't think @Composer admitted to not knowing something.  I don't think that would match his style.  While he didn't mention any cases, it seems he has claimed certain knowledge of the practice of every credible orchestra---consistent with his usual bombast.

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coolpinkone
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Great replies to Joe's comment. I know so many of you have played in "events" and successfully.  I love  hearing everyone's experience.

Daniel... nice reply to Joe and it it is nice to see a page of words that actually mean something...and words that are worth something.

@Composer... you did not answer the questions, there are different answers for most of them, and you gave your blanket condescending answer, while hurling an insult ...(surprise surprise). As one of the five that had replied to Joe I am assuming my answer is on of the "nonsensical" replies, or not.

You reply was incorrect on many levels. FM's answer is completely correct and NOT vague, as it IS THE TIME of dedication and commitment that determines all matters of the violin, along with a sense of musicality.  Do you think he is a new kid on the block?  (I got a huge chuckle out of your reply that his answer was too vague)

AND guess what.. there are some that learn in one hour what takes another 8 hours. And some folks can memorize a song in 20 minutes and therefore have more productive practices on playing that song that the person who is struggling to read and play. (ask me how I know this..?)

You make these crazy blanket statements based on .. I don't even know.  It would be like saying you can't make an edible homemade spaghetti sauce unless you cooked it for two days. Wrong.. in a pinch you can make a fabulous gourmet one in 5 hours. It is subjective.. do you "get" that term?

I play for my family and fun is involved.  So just because the family to whom I play is 20 months old, doesn't mean I can't play for family and have fun.  This took about 7 months of playing.  After a year I am able to play with friends and fun is involved and a few good songs come of it.  I am qualified to answer that question.   Trust me it is one of those things that "money can't buy.

If the songs were in my ability, I could play along with a group/orchestra tomorrow  with practice.

TRUE STORY ..this very day, I was in the car with my daughter and her family and a screaming toddle...hot and tired after an event and nothing would shut her up except, "do you want to hear Nana play the violin?"  She stopped crying and said, "yes" ... she shut up immediately and listened to my Over the Rainbow.  I think I was very competent at that moment for all in the car.

Violin is not one of those things that is either good or bad or no one will want to listen.  I am sorry if that is  your experience.    But if you hang around like minded people...that would explain a lot.

My advice: ( I know.. I know not "Dorothy Delay")Everyday, play your violin, apply your lessons, play scales (for many reasons), read your music, get your bow under control,  be happy, be kind and spread the violin love around. You might play better in a few months.  I'd put money on it.

Happy week.

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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RosinedUp
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coolpinkone said

nothing would shut her up except, "do you want to hear Nana play the violin?"  She stopped crying and said, "yes" ... she shut up immediately and listened to my Over the Rainbow. 

Ha ha, awesome.

But you played violin in the car?  That would raise more eyebrows than knitting at a stop light, I'll bet.  Oh, maybe you weren't driving.

I believe what you say about your little one, but I'm not quite going along with this scene from The Shawshank Redemption:

 

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coolpinkone
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@RosinedUp .. Love love love Shawshank...

I forgot to explain... I played a YouTube video of myself playing for her on my 

iPhone.

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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