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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 -
Loved that story.
I only been playing a year and a half but I play a lot. This past month I went out on a job and had to leave the fiddle at home and I have never been so miserable. I was missing my best friend. Do you have any idea how stupid a person looks playing air violin? I dont either cause I had my eyes closed but some one asked me if I was having a seizure. I was suffering withdrawals.
I got home I went straight to the violin and it took awhile before my timing was back. My bow pressure was off. Nothing was going right. Mary no longer had a little lamb, she had a severe stutter.
I don't know if I could lay it down that long.
However, I went to a place in Nashville called Nashville Violin and saw a blonde maggini with double inlaid purfling and it was beat up and it was beautiful. It had an Appalachian sound to it from those chromcor strings stuck to it just screaming liken it was about to die and i fell in love with it. Had me crying right there in the store. It just had a sound that makes you want a better paying job. Hit me right in the heart.
Anyways, I'm so glad you found your way back. Best of luck to you friend.
I can soooo relate. I started earlier than you and quit when I was 12. So I expect when and if I get to my old form, it won't be as advanced as yours. I remember learning 3rd position, but not vibrato. I'm only back at it for a few months now. I'm glad you're doing so well! I guess I'll give a progress report on a couple more years. 🤗
I totally relate to everything you said.
I started playing in 6th grade at age 11 and I LOVED it, for about 3 years. When I was in 9th grade (14yo) we moved to inner-city Houston and the orchestra teacher there had some serious rage issues. She yelled at us every day, for everything. A couple of the boys who played cello used to mess up on purpose just to get her going. I took about 2 weeks of that then dropped the class. I picked it back up again about a month ago after 42 years.
I'm totally with you on #1, I remember a lot. I was trained by Suzuki in 6th and 7th grade so reading music again is probably more of a chore for me than anything. The good news is I have some awesome bi-focal contacts so I don't need reading glasses to see the notes!
#3. I also have an awesome teacher that plays every stringed instrument known to man. He seems to enjoy his older adult students immensely.
#5. I just turned in my boring rental "student" instrument and bought THE most beautiful, awesome violin. My teacher played it, loved it, and then helped me pick out a bow. I cannot wait till I sound as good as he does on it.
My secret dream is to be good enough to play celtic music at our local renaissance fair, there's a couple around here. I'll be well dressed, my youngest daughter is an awesome seamstress and she makes period costumes for a lot of the people that participate.
I love the goal-setting here. My motivation also is playing with an adult beginner/intermediate orchestra, and trying to sound half decent. I am always amazed at how lousy I am at the beginning of the session, and how much we all improve in 8 weeks. I love my practice, always learning and getting better.
Thanks for sharing. About your username. I use association to remember peoples names and with "Jimmy", by associating with "Jimi Hendrix"
That was my first thought, lol, but the c makes me think Hendrick(s), which was originally a Dutch name.
I played piano and oboe until 40 years ago and took up the violin a year ago. I'm improving rapidly, but not rapidly enough, lol!
I make a lot of plans/set a lot of goals, but they are always changing, so I don't think it's OCD or on the autism spectrum. My teacher screams (literally but quietly) if she sees as much as a bus timetable or a map, so I have to keep my plans secret from her. I told her I have no problem if a plan fails, I just amend it, so she doesn't think the worst of me (lol).
I play every Tuesday night in a uke group, and I welcomed the string orchestra on Friday mornings to break the week in half, but in fact, I find that the time passes too quickly between rehearsals, and we have done little more than sight-read every week so far before the conductor chooses what we'll play in a Christmas concert, so hectic, hectic, hectic. Next September I'll have two orchestras, Tuesday night and Friday morning, but by then if my playing is good enough, I'll be able to take the routine in my stride more.