I first played fiddle about 20 years ago, for a few years. As long as I can remember, I had always wanted to play violin, but there were no orchestra programs in the schools and no violin instructors were readily available when I was a child. Instead I played piano and later chose clarinet as the band instrument that seemed as close as possible to a violin. Later on when in graduate school I was able to get a violin and I taught myself to play a number of fiddle tunes in Irish and old-time styles. I enjoyed playing a lot but had to put the fiddle aside for a while during dissertation writing and somehow I stayed away for many years.
Last year when my son started kindergarten, he began taking Suzuki violin through his school. Watching him learn made me want to play again, so I got a really cheap violin at Christmas and played Twinkle along with him. Then I started working a little bit ahead of him in the book - he is still on the Twinkle variations, though about to move on to the next song.
When I learned fiddle on my own years ago, I just learned the very basics (like finger positions in first position) from a method book and moved on immediately to figuring out fiddle tunes without paying much attention to proper technique. This time I've decided to spend more time upfront learning basic technique as best as I can, so I've decided to work my way through Suzuki Book 1 before I start trying to learn fiddle tunes again.
For various reasons I don't think I will be able to take weekly lessons long-term, but I am taking a few lessons to get started properly before any bad habits have too much of a chance to set in. I had my first real lesson last week, and it was very helpful.
One unfortunate aspect of taking up violin at an older than traditional age is that I have started experiencing some arthritis type issues in my left hand, which means that I am not always able to finger with my left hand. Usually I do have some hours in the day with sufficient flexibility to play with the standard violin hold, but I recently obtained a beginner-model reverse ("left handed") violin and have been experimenting with playing in reverse (left-handed bowing and right-handed fingering). I am finding it quite difficult to play with the opposite hands and hope that I will be able to continue with the standard set-up. For the moment I am trying to learn both ways, though I am somewhat more "advanced" with the standard hold.
I found this forum not long ago when looking for online instructional resources, and the website and forum seem to be a treasure trove of information. It will be fun to exchange information about learning to play.
Hi there @Fidelestre,
I was in a very similar position to you 6 months ago, I had a break of about 25 years before picking up a cheap violin from gumtree on 1st January. I was really scared I also had arthritis I had so much finger pain especially first joint of all fingers but it was a killer on the index finger. I'm not sure if you've got a diagnosis of arthritis or not, for me, it was tendinitis from the amount of pressure I was applying to the violin, trying my best to get a decent tone out of it. (You would've thought I was strangling an anaconda the way I was going). There was a lot of things that helped, strings and violin came later, trying hard to relax (ha ha) stretching after playing, building up playing time slowly but most importantly the help of a tutor, with a simple tweak of posture and position it eased over the weeks.
Don't give up, relax, don't give up, enjoy your me time away from the kids, don't give up (did I say that already)? Good luck!
Welcome to the forum!
So glad that you have returned to the violin. How adorable that you have a little one playing those little Twinkle songs.
Arthritis... I have it.... but the violin and playing a lot a long with knitting has proven to help... it has almost disappeared in my hands. Three years ago.. I woke up to hands that were so stiff .. I could hardly open them... now I wake up with limber hands.... I am a knitter and crocheter..... it seems that the violin playing it an excellent counter stretch for all the things I was doing, keyboard, etc.... I am not saying that is for everyone. Just a bit of a success story.
Good luck.. play often.. so happy to have you here.. Good to have our violin group growing. We are all here to talk violin, play violin, and talk more violin.
Welcome to our Magnificent obsession. We have Violists, and mandolin players here along with guitar and more..... Welcome.
Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato
Thanks for the wonderful, encouraging words. There was a long wait time for initial appointments with local rheumatologists so that isn't until next month, and hopefully a more clear diagnosis will help. It does seem like it helps that playing is helping at least somewhat with finger flexibility, and my teacher did have great suggestions for proper hold of violin and bow to help prevent strain and injury.