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Need advice on re-entry into violin playing after years without playing.
What is an effective/practical approach to playing again after a long hiatus?
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August 3, 2014 - 7:57 pm
Member Since: August 3, 2014
Forum Posts: 3
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This is a bit of a long post, so read the TL:DR at the bottom if you prefer. Also, this was posted in reddit.com/r/violinist, but that community is rather small and I doubt I will get much feedback.

Hi everyone! I was an amateur violinist from the age of 6 to 21, but essentially gave it up for the last 3 years due to grad school (for chemistry).

There are a few opportunities available, but they never fit my schedule and since I was primarily a chamber musician and a vocal accompanist in college, my interest in playing dwindled since I have no one to play with.

However, I recently went to a classical concert with a friend and was overcome by a wave of emotions that I had not felt in a long time (grad school is rather soul-crushing). I immediately yearned to play again, but I think I have lost most of my technical abilities. The last few things I was working on that qualify as solo material include: Bach Ciaconna, Beethoven Violin Concert, Grieg Sonatas.

TLDR - What is an effective/practical approach to playing again after a long hiatus? I am assuming that fundamentals should come first before diving back into major projects like a concerto or sonata, but I can't remember the last time I worked on drills or which composers' drills I should study (Kreutzer, Sitt, Saenger, the list is long...). Any advice is appreciated.

Honorary tenured advisor

August 3, 2014 - 9:36 pm
Member Since: September 7, 2012
Forum Posts: 985
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Zeejet said
I immediately yearned to play again, but I think I have lost most of my technical abilities.

Your emotions were awakened instantly, so what makes you think your skills won't come back soon?

I haven't restarted violin or anything else that's largely manual, but I've restarted other things, and I've found that I was able to pick up, backtrack, and surpass my previous highs.

It sounds like you're a little afraid to try.  You know you're going to feel some loss.  Prepare your mind for that and put the violin up on your shoulder.  I would plan on retracing the very basics.  Maybe in a year you will be better than you were before and ready to go higher.  Personally I would be happy with a scenario like that.

Brora, North-east Scotland
August 4, 2014 - 3:24 am
Member Since: March 22, 2014
Forum Posts: 3741
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Hi Zeejet and welcome!

I'm a "late beginner", so I'm not really capable of discussing the technicalities of playing, but from your words, I sense a passion and a desire to play - perhaps I also sense a degree of "uncertainty" or even "fear of failure".  What I would say is that @RosinedUp pretty much hit the mark.   

It's maybe a bit like riding a bicycle after a number of years away from it - you'll get the basics back pretty fast - but you may have to practice anew the clever stunts you used to do without thinking, like front-wheelies, back-wheelies, bunny-hops and so on!   (Maybe not a great analogy, but you get the idea)

And I would bet (a) you will re-learn the "lost" techniques much, much faster than you think, and (b) once you have, you will be better than before!

Also, in your progress back to playing - if you hit a stumbling block - video it, discuss it, and post your problem on the forum - you'll find people of all skill levels here and will without doubt get helpful feedback !

Besides, following 15 years of playing, three years away is not such a long time...... really.....   you'll be just fine!


I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

August 4, 2014 - 1:52 pm
Member Since: August 3, 2014
Forum Posts: 3
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Thanks for the input and the encouragement! I actually dusted off my fiddle last night and messed around a bit just to gauge where I am at. To my surprise I could play some of the easier Bach Sonatas from memory (although not pretty)! 

That being said, a fair amount of sludge has built up over the years in terms of left hand/right hand coordination, left hand dexterity, and intonation. I think I will go through scales and arpeggios as well as some left hand drills for a few weeks. It's good to revisit fundamentals anyway I suppose.

Honorary advisor

August 4, 2014 - 2:28 pm
Member Since: September 19, 2013
Forum Posts: 234
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Howdy Zeejet ,

Welcome to Fiddlerman ...yep , what they said ...I'm sure you'll blow us all away ...

Only advise i have or am qualified to give is ...keep it fun ...violin-1267i only learned a couple of tunes back when i was eleven years old in school untill retireing a couple years ago and taking 'er up again ...things have changed alot and many helpfull videos here and elsewhere ...

If ya don't find something you need here , just ask Pierre and I'm sure he will be happy to help ...violin-1267oh , yeah , and be sure to visit the chat room ...

California, the place of my heart
August 4, 2014 - 4:04 pm
Member Since: January 11, 2012
Forum Posts: 4180
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Welcome !!  I have no advice on re-entering the violin world.  But now I have read your reply... and I think you answered your own question by playing the Sonatas.  Congrats on the rekindling of your flame for playing. Congratulations!!! 

I love how you described your wave of emotion... Violin and classical music does that to me as well.  It is the best feeling or wave.  I love to get lost in my favorite classical pieces. 

Hope to see and "hear" from you around this site and forum. :)


Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

Fort Lauderdale
August 5, 2014 - 11:37 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 16116

Welcome to the forum Zeejet.
Glad to hear that you have decided to start playing again. The real question would be what your goals are? Playing the Bach sonata's are rewarding but do you have any other desires. I believe you can probably take off where you left off after about a month or two of scales, etudes and playing. Most of the etudes that you spoke of are constructive and geared towards improving different techniques that make playing easier so it won't hurt :)
Hope you continue to enjoy it and stay in touch here on the forum. That in itself is a great motivation to keep on playing.

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

August 8, 2014 - 4:23 pm
Member Since: August 3, 2014
Forum Posts: 3
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My goal is to return to my college form (and who knows, maybe I'll get better, although technical progress had been stagnant throughout college anyway). I would like to eventually find other musicians (chamber music with ensembles of 3-5 musicians is what I enjoy most) and play chamber music again, but working on challenging solo works is also a lot of fun. I'm strictly an amateur and while I have played several weddings during college for pay, I don't have any desire to make this a part time job (less pressure that way as well hahaha). 

Also, I guess I've always been interested in other genres, but many of them seem so fringe to me (jazz or blues violin for example). There doesn't seem to be a structured way to learn other genres (at least that I know of) and I don't do well without structure and clear progressions. 


Thanks again to all who have offered advice and encouragement! I'll be sure to drop in and out of these forums since everyone is so welcoming and active here.

Fort Lauderdale
August 11, 2014 - 9:13 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 16116

It may not be great but I did spend a little time making some blues videos. :)


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

September 20, 2014 - 12:12 am
Member Since: September 17, 2014
Forum Posts: 47
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Hi Zeejet,


I am inclined to agree with Fiddlerman.

I did not start as young as you ( I was 21) , but I did have to take time out to develop my career, and then returned to my violin about 8 years ago. Yes you do forget a lot of stuff, but it is a bit like riding a bike so you don't forget everything.

In fact  with well structured practice sessions , of course never forgetting to spend plenty of time on scales (the life blood of any fiddle player in my opinion), studies and etudes that your skill will quickly return, especially as you are still very young.

In fact you will in all probability become an even better player.

Anyway good luck!



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