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Starting at the late age
Topic Rating: 4.5 Topic Rating: 4.5 Topic Rating: 4.5 Topic Rating: 4.5 Topic Rating: 4.5 Topic Rating: 4.5 (6 votes) 
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vibaviattigala
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January 17, 2013 - 7:00 am
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i started the violin 4 months ago and i have been enjoying the fiddle and Fiddlerman.com site members etc . i unexpectedly spoted this answer from yahoo answers about renowned artist .here it is and i have some objections about that idea

 

Realistically, no. You can learn any time you want but developing the skill you need to be a "renowned artist" is not going to happen. The finger dexterity you need for that level of mastery needs to be developed early. There are plenty of teens here who will tell you to "follow your dream," or "anything is possible," but those of us who actually work in the field know it's not that easy. I know some people who learned cello fairly late but they all started on other instruments and had already developed their finger dexterity.

There's no reason not to learn to play for your own enjoyment.

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so that means its almost impossible to master the violin at the late age?.i just dont want to become a renowed artist .but this answer has some false side of it what i have learn .is there a truth about the finger dexterity?1st-placeviolin-studentviolin_girltreble-1226semiquaver-1214
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Ferret
Byron Bay Australia
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January 17, 2013 - 7:45 am
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I think that he 'partly' right. As an adult learner I believe that you can become a 'very' good violinist. However , the it's difficult to become a master, not due to the lack previously learned dexterity, but due to lack of time left to acquire those skills. hats_off

However, I do find the statement, "There is no reson not to learn to play for your own enjoyment", a little condescending. And rather annoying. I intent to be a good enough player to be able to entertain people for 'their' enjoyment.

And when I'm playing around the campfire, I won't be playing something by Beethoven. That would probably clear the area very quickly. I would be playing something like Midnight on the Water, Boil Dem Cabbage Down, or The Irish Washer Woman, and have them hanging on every note. rofl

Well, thats what I reckon

Seen it all. Done it all. Can't remember most of dunno ..... What was I saying???? facepalm

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DanielB
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January 17, 2013 - 8:34 am
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I do not agree with it, Vibavi.

I have known a fair number of people over the years that can type 100 words per minute or more.  None of them took typing when they were small children, so far as I know.  In many cases, I know they definitely did not.  There is finger dexterity right there.  Adults are often encouraged to consider taking touch typing, if it will help with getting a job or to do their job better, and a good percentage of them achieve speeds in the 100 plus words per minute range.  You do not her people say "Oh, you cannot be a secretary, because you did not start when you were three years old."  LOL! 

To be "reknowned" also takes more than just being good.  It takes promotion and marketing.  It takes networking, it takes hype.  There are many excellent musicians who play very well, but are never likely to play outside of their own house or their circle of friends because they do not learn promotion and etc.  Some of them may be better players than people who are "reknowned".

So far as "mastery", I neither know nor care what the word means.  I have played guitar for over 30 years.  I do not consider myself a "master" of it.  Or of any other activity in life, for that matter.  If someone decides after I am dead and gone, that I was a "master" at something, fine.  I doubt I will care, but if it amuses them, then that is good, I guess.

I will agree with some of Ferret's points are, though.  The older you are, the less years you have to work with to develop proficiency and make a name for yourself in any field.  Learning takes more than just effort and work, it takes time for ideas to integrate and develop in your mind. 

Then there is the point that record companies and other music businesses tend to prefer child or young "stars" to promote.  There are many reasons for that, but to stick with just the most practical, a 20 yr old "superstar" has more years to earn money for something like a record company than a 60 yr old one.  That is 40 more years right there and it can represent a lot of money.  most corporations and businesses will prefer to hire younger people, it is not limited to music.

Also, children are more encouraged by society in the arts than are adults.  If a child of 4 or 5 yrs old shows an interest in something like a musical instrument, their parents and family may go to some pains to get them an instrument and lessons.  If they stick with it for a year, many adults will start encouraging them to think of it as a possible career.  If, after a couple of years, they can play a few songs pretty well?  They will be told they are talented or gifted and encouraged even more.

But if say, a 40 yr old man or woman does the same things and makes similar progress?  They will most likely be considered as having found an interesting hobby.  Even their family and close friends are unlikely to encourage it much.  If that adult music student spends even an hour a day on practice and playing and maybe takes lessons once or twice a week, it may be tolerated, but it will most likely be viewed as a waste of their time and money by most people who know them.

I think that is a more significant problem for an adult beginner in music than manual dexterity or "neural pathways" or whatever.

 

"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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ozmous
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January 17, 2013 - 9:23 am
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oh...i will never agree with that. look at the great Elliot Carter; he won 2 pulitzer prizes for his composition...many praised his compositions...even though he started a lot of those at the age of 90....he started music at his teenage years....yet he became  master! how about Anton Bruckner? he started music at 20 years of age...and only started composing at his 40's, Iannis Xenakis started at age of 30! yet many people praised their music...

oh, and it's also not about the dexterity...did you know that the great composer, Hector Berlioz was not considered as a great pianist, guitarist, instrumentalist, etc.? but he was considered as a great composer....

...you see, it's not just about the age...it's bout the passion, if you believe that you won't be great someday, you will never be great. but if you believe, there is always a way!

in a different subject, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, etc....they were late bloomers as well....they were not what they were when they became old, but the passion pushed them to what they wanted, that's why they got it!

cheers! - ⁰ℨ

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Mad_Wed
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January 17, 2013 - 10:13 am
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I like the violin. And i'll play, no matter what my finger dexterity is, or will be, or will not be... 

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StoneDog
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I feel that passion is the biggest motivation to learn. I am a near-ender but only a beginner on the fiddle. I don't have any desire to become a MASTER > I just like to play and hear my own musical expressions so guess it would be a hobby for me. It irritates the family too so that is a plus. I have played the guitar for many years so I record and jam with myself > I have lots of fun doing that and I don't even have to leave the cellar. Playing the guitar is of great advantage due to my finger dexterity is not much of an issue. I believe that the spirit moves on after one leaves this rock we exist on and what one does now is part of that spirit > SOooo > the more I play the fiddle now the more I will know for the next adventure. Never too old to do anything except maybe party as much.

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Picklefish
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alright, as the resident promoter of the Suzuki method I will give my thoughts. I feel two ways about this physically and mentally.

1. Mentally, anything you put your mind to you can accomplish. Q. How do you eat an elephant? A. One bite at a time. This means that any challenge can be reduced to manageable bite sized goals, which can be achieved and combined to reach the overall larger goal. This is a fact of life.

2. Physically, limitations like arthritis or other physical conditions can prevent development. Be realistic about your actual abilities and accept it as thats what it is. If you find a way to overcome any limitation then it was a mental block and not necessarily a physical one.

Finally, I have resumed my self study of fingerstyle guitar and piano. Combined with Violin I have three different situations where three different types of finger dexterity is required. It still involves left and right hand coordination that is different also. I am 42 this May. I am committed to becoming a concert performer in all three instruments. If you aim high and miss you are furthur along than if you aimed low!

IMO- pfish

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

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Fiddlerman
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January 17, 2013 - 11:17 am
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I don't think that there are any good studies done on this subject. There are tons of youngsters that start learning to play violin but not nearly as many adults that do it and in the same way.
A friend of mine played growing up and in college and then quit. He was fantastic but didn't play the violin in 30 years. He took it up again recently as a surprise and it didn't take him many days to play incredibly again. Now I know that his finger dexterity has to be gone by now. Everything he does in life uses his fingers, hands, and arms in different ways but nothing is like playing the violin and he was able to play great again. I guess it's like riding a bike in some ways. I've given lessons to adults who started very late in life and you guys would agree that they sound GREAT.
Someday I have to remember to record one of these cases.

"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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January 17, 2013 - 2:18 pm
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Violinists are asymmetric performers.   However, evolution and early stage human development produces a bisymmetrical body. This is easily demonstrated by a simple experiment:  stick your right arm straight out in front of you with the index finger pointing out.  stick your left arm out to your side so that a 90 degree angle is formed between the two arms.  Draw a long, slow figure 8 with in the sky with the right arm.  Draw a fast, short radius circle with the left arm.   This is a representation of the vibrato problem.  The tendency is for the arms to draw at the same speed and also the same shape.  Trying harder induces tension.  Is this a flexibility problem in the joints?  Of course not  Yet the so-called solution to vibrato is exercising the joints.  Its not really a coordination problem either.  Its a human development problem which is why the 5 year old has such a big advantage because their motions are not yet cast in stone so the neural structures can be altered through asymmetric movements that ordinary development rarely encounters between age 5 and 12.

 

The problem for the adult is that the necessity for asymmetry smacks you right in the face immediately.  Its not limited to an advanced task like vibrato.  Its right there in the mechanics of the straight bow, smooth bow change, string crossing, and legato phrase.  You can practice the detache stroke with scales till your blue in the face, and when you encounter slurred notes for the first time, its like you never practiced before at all.  Practicing string crossing with the whole arm as a 'wing unit' is another waste of time. 

The worst of it is found in the smooth bow change.  You can't really do anything with the violin until you master this and again its not a flexibility problem in the right hand/fingers.  You have to desynchronize the entire arm unit by drawing a tiny circle movement of the upper arm so that a small delay is induced while the hand/fingers finishes the up stroke at the frog so that motion of the entire arm unit is not brought to a full stop producing a large silent gap in tone.   Nearly every adult learner I have encountered is crippled by rhythmic and tone problems caused by bow speedups going into and out of the bow change.

The essence of learning the violin by an adult is in overcoming the asymmetry problem.  This is why a 12 year old typically has more problems than a 5 year old.  Its also why I say there isn't an instructor out there who really understands why adults struggle so much.  They all learned the violin at a young age.

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Ferret
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Fiddlerman said

I don't think that there are any good studies done on this subject. There are tons of youngsters that start learning to play violin but not nearly as many adults that do it and in the same way.
A friend of mine played growing up and in college and then quit. He was fantastic but didn't play the violin in 30 years. He took it up again recently as a surprise and it didn't take him many days to play incredibly again. Now I know that his finger dexterity has to be gone by now. Everything he does in life uses his fingers, hands, and arms in different ways but nothing is like playing the violin and he was able to play great again. I guess it's like riding a bike in some ways. I've given lessons to adults who started very late in life and you guys would agree that they sound GREAT.
Someday I have to remember to record one of these cases.

As a late starter I'd love to see a video of one of these cases. It would probably be inspirational.

At times watching a video of a youngster playing brilliantly can be a little depressing as I know that to attain that level expertise I would have to live to about 127yrs old roflol

Seen it all. Done it all. Can't remember most of dunno ..... What was I saying???? facepalm

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MajorGeek
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February 5, 2013 - 4:28 pm
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There's Jenny O'Conner who says she started playing at 18. When I play her band Circa Paleo for my teacher, he says, "that's strong playing."

I started two years ago and I'm almost 60. But see my thread about sax v. Violin. I'll always be a better sax player and I've ignored my sax for 35 years. That early childhood training on sax made it like my native tongue.

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Tyberius
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I started playing late in life. I am not in that boat alone. I have not played another instrument and until i started the violin, i had no idea how to read music. Will I ever be a great player? I don't even care to address that. That is not even a remote goal of mine. In the 9.5 months I've been playing, I have made great advances in my playing and in music. Very few can be "superstars" of anything. Many people can be good and enjoy the play level they obtain. Does it mean you can't become a great player? Absolutely not. It just means that is not my goal. I like my little pieces i don't always remember the right fingering for, the jigs that don't exactly jig in the right timing, the crossover that picks up other string baggage along the way. I know by my recordings that I now have enough skill to get through pieces i was completely intimidated by even 2 months ago. They may not be ready for prime time, but their good enough to enjoy playing at my level of play.  I keep practicing and making my little steps forward. Most of all, I find joy in opening my case, putting the shoulder rest on and starting in on my nightly session.

"I find your lack of Fiddle, disturbing" - Darth Vader

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StoneDog
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Me too, x_Tyberius_x > I also find joy.

 
 
 
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peanut_gallery
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Exquisitely said Tyberius!

You got to do what makes you happy, follow your bliss, and to hell with all the naysayers.b-slap

 

 

A hoopy frood always knows where his towel is!

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Fiddlerman
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February 6, 2013 - 10:11 am
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Exactly Tyberius. Thanks for that post.

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

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Mt. Fiddler
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Our psychologist friends, myself among them, will talk about neuro-plasticity and the capacity of the brain and body to form itself in new ways until the end of life.  We know that adults can reach pre-adolescent flexibility in (healthy) joints and become old age yoga twisters or alternatively, body builders.  

@Composer, I don't think the kind of right/left brain coordination you speak of with the arm exercise will limit a violin player, because even those brain structures that develop early in life and seem fixed, are now known to be amenable to revision (or so say the neuro-scientists - google recent studies in neuro-plasticity).

How about this?  If you take a 60 year old, give him parents or parental figures,  all the food he needs, take care of all his life stressors, a good school to attend everyday and take care of his every need, and then teach him the violin (and if his heart is like a child's too) then I say he can become a master violin "renouned artist", and it won't take him as long because he will also have lifetime of political/social connections which are necessary for the marketing/booking/producing/financial backing of the professional music scene.   But the typical 60 year old likley has a mortgage or kids in college, many other interests, loves of his own that must be tended and nourished, and many other components of his personality that will compete naturally with learning a new skill and having another new love in his life.  Can a garden contain award winning roses?  Sure, but if you also like Zinnias and impatients and creeping william, then you may have a better garden, and more enjoyable than just an award winning rose garden.

 

Putting it another way, I don't know many 50 or 60 year olds that "want" to be a renouned artist.  But who definitely see the violin as a major additive joy and new love in thier life that can be a lifetime companion.  My own father was tuning his violin at age 80 just one week before his spirit took flight last May.

History will give us the answer to this question as it looks back over the next hundred or so years and master virtuosos evolve and stun the world with skills learned only late in life.

 

For me personally, I don't imagine I'll be playing at Carnegie hall competing with the fresh young faces that come and go in today's world of professional music.  But on the other hand I anticipate continuing to possess a joyful completeness at whatever skill I'm at with the violin.  That's the magic of this wonderful instrument.  As I get better, my joy increases but I can't imagine ever reaching a stage of perfection in which I can no longer improve.  Right?

 

Thanks for the lively discussion and we will look forward to seeing you in Carnegie hall or the back campfire!!

 

Markcool

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Mt. Fiddler
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DanielB said
"..."  

Daniel I composed my reply before fully reading yours. Then I read it again...   Amazing we hit many of the same points.  I think that it is the air quality in New York State that makes us such similar thinkers.

Mark1st-place

 

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KnarfEK
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I'm never going to play Carnegie Hall.

 

Well, not violin, anyway. And I couldn't care less.

 

The advantage of age, the wisdom to not care about frivolous concerns.

 

Newbie at 58 and loving it!

 

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KnarfEK
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There was a time when it was considered a good thing for the masses to know how to play passable music for social pleasure. 

 

Too bad the elite have assumed such power over the populace lately.

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DanielB
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@KnarfEK:  It is always easy to blame some elite, but I tend to look more towards marketing.  "Create a need" is one of the principles in marketing.  To make money with new inventions like the phonograph and radio, marketers did what they could to shift the perception of music as something everyday people might do more towards something where there were a few rare "star" performers who are all that "really matter".

It was harder to get people to lay out what was a very considerable amount of money at that time for a phonograph or radio if they were capable of entertaining themselves or family and friends.  

I remember my mother talking about when she was a little girl back in the Great Depression.  It was before her family had anything like a record player or radio, but her mother played harmonica.  My mother and her sisters and brother would "pester" their mom to play in the evening when chores and supper were all done.  They'd keep her going as long as they could, trying to make sure she didn't skip even a single song in her repertoire.  That same lady, my grandmother, was the very first live musician that I recall seeing.  As an adult musician with some years in bands and a bit of education, I'd have to say she would have qualified as a very talented amateur.  You don't hear much harmonica playing, even in professional recordings, that was better.  She had a good ear and knew her instrument well, and there wasn't much she couldn't do on it.  

But nobody makes much money off such things.  It doesn't have advertisements like radio or other media, and so it is more profitable to teach/influence people to think of music as something elitist and exclusive and a rare ability that they should stay tuned for or click the link to hear.

The "renowned artist" and "young superstar" images feed that market.  Such ideas tend to convince people that music is something we should just pay to listen to, and that there is no point in trying to play ourselves, since we will never be as good as the product/stars being marketed. 

Fortunately, in the real world, people tend to take it back.  LOL  Every few years there will be a fad or craze where many people will take up an instrument and try to learn to play.  Many of those instruments end up in a closet or eventually a yard sale, because the person will eventually give up on it.  But out of every hundred or so, there will also be at least some that stick with it and learn enough to keep music going as something that isn't the exclusive property of some elite.

When I first started playing violin, almost a year ago, I ran across a statistic that violin/fiddle had become one of the most popular instruments that people want to learn to play.  Right up there with guitar.  So we are in one of those fads/crazes I mentioned earlier.  That was nice to find out.  I had "hit the wave" just about right for a change.  Lots of instruments available, and lots of resources and support for anyone wanting to learn. 

One result of that is that there are probably more everyday people listening to (and in many cases, learning) classical music as well as "old time" fiddle music (to name just two genres) than at other times in the past several decades.  I think that is good.  One of the ways that music refreshes itself and stays alive through the centuries.

So, for all that there is always some "elite" somewhere saying how things should be, and marketeers steering public perceptions any way they can think of to make a profit from it, music is one of those things in life that people just go ahead and take back.

"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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