Friday, March 8, 2013

Teaching adult beginners to play the violin

I am a patient, encouraging teacher of beginners of all ages, and many of my students are adults.  A lot of adult beginners approach me saying, “I don’t even know whether it makes sense to start at my age” or “I have no experience with music.  Can I start now?”  I tell them, “It is never too late to start doing something you love.” 

You can read about me as a teacher on the website I made for my students and on my personal website.  Be sure to read about my adult beginners, too.  

I have found one big difference between adult beginners and kid beginners:  Adults are impatient. The adult beginners often want to jump ahead and do complex things before they master the basics. They also get frustrated easily because they think that, "I've been studying for a year. I should be able to do this right by now."  I tell them them to remember that the violin is a very technical instrument.  I also advise them to give themselves high marks and feelings of accomplishment for every increment of progress, no matter how small.  A teacher who has experience with adult beginners can help by giving you positive feedback whenever it is justified.

Of course, adults’ bodies are not the same as kids’ bodies. Often I find that adult beginners, especially adult males, can not use their hands and fingers in the preferred way,  I have to help them find ways to "cheat" and still produce a good sound.  I treat each student as an individual and avoid the "one size fits all" approach.

Playing the violin can cause muscle cramps, especially while learning.  The people who are most often affected are adult males because their muscles are large.   You can not play the violin with muscle cramps, just as you can not run with leg cramps.  Stretching can help you keep your muscles healthy and pain free, and it is important for all violin players, particularly for adult males. I recommend stretching before, during, and after practicing.  I have a page on my website ( with videos of helpful stretches, and I teach these stretches to my students.

I love teaching adult beginners.  My lessons are stimulating, fun, and rewarding for both me and my students.