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Old vs. Young Learners
Making "adequate" progress
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ADK-Mark
Adirondacks, NY
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February 9, 2017 - 9:12 pm
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Hi everyone - what do you think about learning violin as an adult vs. learning as a youth?  We know scientifically that adult minds are just as flexible and as young ones, but I know a lot of people who say "ya gotta lern it when yer a youngin'".  violin-student

Maybe adults are more accustomed to things in their lives working well, where kids are just taking life as it happens, happily bumbling along while someone else pays the rent, and all the while they make steady progress without even knowing it.  Learning the violin defies my adult mind, I become indignant and grouchy - part of me expects  (and demands) a higher return on my investment of time.  What do you fine folks do when you hit a wall of discouragement  facepalmso that you don't say "well - the violin obviously isn't for me", and thereby becomes another item in the attic?

ADK-Mark

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damfino
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February 9, 2017 - 9:50 pm
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ADK-Mark said
What do you fine folks do when you hit a wall of discouragement  facepalmso that you don't say "well - the violin obviously isn't for me", and thereby becomes another item in the attic?

Oh dear, soooo many times I've felt like there is no point in my trying, and think about selling my fiddles. When I feel like that I stop my practice session, and step away. When I come back... either a little later or the next day... I just play something I know and enjoy. No actual practice. Just fun, because that's the whole point in my learning... to enjoy playing tunes I like. That usually brings me back from the edge, haha. 

Fiddlerman-Amateur-Hour-February-19-1.jpg

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Elwin
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February 9, 2017 - 10:34 pm
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I don't really believe it's ever too late for someone to learn the violin for that matter. Even kids can be discouraged in learning an instrument, the main difference is that they have Mom and Dad saying "I paid $XXX dollars for that and you're not just going to put it down like that". So they're "pushed" into keeping on playing and then they become good at it. As an adult, most of the time, they live without their parents, and they can pay for their own instrument. They might not have someone to "push" them or not let them quit, so they do. I guess learning an instrument as an adult requires a bit more discipline than as a child since it is up to them to push themselves through the road blocks. Everyone has roadblocks in their instrumental journey, it is really up to them to decide if they want to go through it, or give up. Children have it easier, especially if they have parents (or maybe a teacher) who would not let them give up.

Now, I'm also thinking that another thing that might give kids an advantage is that their brains are still developing and growing, and would probably grow accustomed to playing the violin as they age. A study showed that string musicians who began as a child, before 12, had larger neurons in the area of the brain controlling the left-hand fingers, than string musicians who started later. I haven't looked into how that affects playing, but that might be another reason why kids have an advantage.

Those are my thoughts on the topic, don't take my words as absolute truth, I am probably off in some areas.

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TangledUpInWriting
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February 10, 2017 - 9:00 am
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Interesting question!  I think the only difference between learning as a child and learning as an adult is that when you're a kid, your brain is still developing (until you're around the age of 26) and might take to learning difficult things easier because it's just another thing to absorb and add to the collection.  However, in no way does that mean that adults can't learn.  The brain continuously maps and re-maps parts of the brain to deal with even everyday occurrences.  Therefore, there shouldn't be any reason why someone couldn't learn a violin (or anything, for that matter) because they're "too old to". 

As far as the frustration factor -- make sure that you don't over-stress yourself with expectations and perfectionism.  If you start feeling frustrated, take a break.  Even if you just picked up the violin ten minutes ago -- take a break.  Work on something else for awhile, or until you can re-approach practice with a better frame of mind.  Playing something like the violin when you're frustrated sometimes only adds to the frustration, but it can also be a great way to relax if you take a more "chill" perspective on playing it.  You could map out some things you'd like to learn --goals--but only work on them for part of the practice session, and then if you start to get discouraged, just play around with some things you already know.  Just because you know it doesn't mean that it'd be a waste of time to practice it some more!  Hope this helps, and best of luck to you! 

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ADK-Mark
Adirondacks, NY
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February 10, 2017 - 8:55 pm
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Well thank you very much.. this is just what I needed to hear.   Truth be told, I think there's another factor in all of this for me... which is the initial motivation to play the violin:  to enter a "forbidden" world of music that seemed only available to (a) tuxedo-wearing, white-gloved people surrounded by sparkling chandeliers or (b) down-home country, long bearded men who had practiced a lifetime and started at age four".

Talk about a challenge!  I guess now that I think about it, learning the violin (to the point of my own standards) is like making a woodshop project by hand - the first few side-tables are sure to have some rough edges -  but the more tables you make, the better each one becomes.  At least that's what I found..!

Thanks again all!

ADK-Mark

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stet
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February 11, 2017 - 1:00 pm
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When you have exhausted every effort and you can't do it, then it is not a bad idea to find something else to do, another hobby.

Dance of the Blessed Spirits.

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ADK-Mark
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February 11, 2017 - 8:03 pm
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Thank you for that - Stet.  I am going to lay out some written goals here on the forum and see about getting a reality check.    

 

ADK-Mark

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