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WAY back in the day, someone in the Nashville schools got a grant and started teaching us little urchins how to play the violin using the Susuki method. My family always played music together as I grew up, but that day when a wonderful musician came by my 4th grade class and played a few short pieces on her violin I was hooked. I came home and begged my parents to let me play.
That led to my playing from 4th grade through to high school. I even was in the first year of the Nashville Youth Symphony. I played a number of years and have the medals to show for my efforts.
Now in my mid-50's, I moved to a small town outside of Atlanta and the church I attend has an orchestra. While my wife and daughter joined the chior, I decided to pull out my old PSF Roth student's violin and see if I could make a go with the violin section.
Now 3 years into playing, a number of private tutors, and many many hours watching Pierre's videos as well as a number of others, I can say that I'm almost back to form. So many differences playing with 50 something fingers than when I was a child. I even joined another community orchestra and I play 3 concerts a year with them aside from the concerts I play at the church.
Here are my thoughts on returning to the violin (as I just return home from playing a concert about an hour from here this evening. Yes, I am a musician again. )
1) I can remember more than I can I produce with my playing. I wont lie, this has been frustrating.
2) Playing weekly with other muscians and preparing for concerts is the number one fact that has kept me motivated to go on and improve my playing.
3) Getting a good teacher saved me weeks and weeks of frustration. I had many bad habits and whether you take online or in person, a good teacher can save you a lot of time.
4) Having the Internet has introduced me to so many styles of play and techniques that I went on to learn myself. This is totally fun.
5) Get a solid instrument. I listened to Pierre bang out review after review on violins. I found one that I simply love and went to his store and bought it. (disclaimer: I'm simply a happy customer and not a part of Fiddlershop in any way). I'd gone to a couple of local stores but the intruments I liked were way out of my price line.
6) Last but not least, I found that even when I fell off the practice wagon, playing regular practice sessions with other players got me back into practice quickly and I was right back playing tunes and forcing myself to try new skills.
Where am I now? Well, I'll probably never be ASO (Atlanta Symphony Orchestra) material and I'm far from perfect (like my vibrato is coming back VERY slowly with my old fingers). But I am happy and that is what matters most to me.
...and my secret goal? Yeah...becoming good enough to play with the ASO. 😉
I can still dream.
Indeed, playing violin... and most musical instruments for that matter, is not something that can easily be picked up again after years of not playing.
It is more like muscle atrophy than the bike riding simile.
However, your background in music does help. Music is one of those special skills that, when you learn it, your brain will retain it. Music is stored and recorded in the brain differently than anything else. It is scientifically shown that music is learned on BOTH hemispheres of the brain; both the creative and the logical. And it bypasses the subconscious, and learned or absorbed directly into the conscious. This is why learning a musical instrument enhances learning and retention of all areas.
This explains why after decades, you are able to quickly get back to your previous level of playing. You just needed to re-awaken those memories and synopses where music is stored.
Also, don't give up on your dream. You'll be surprised what you can achieve!
- Pete -