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Krista Moyer

On being an adult beginner.

February 26, 2013 at 2:23 PM

Sometimes I wonder if I’m not maybe just a tad crazy trying to learn to play the violin at this stage in my life. I’m not sure what to compare the experience to. Perhaps if you tried to learn how to speak Japanese while juggling chainsaws and hopping on one foot, that might compare. Only playing the violin doesn’t look as hard as it really is.

I wonder too, if I’m not being incredibly selfish. This takes time. There is at least one hour every single day where I’m struggling through playing exercises to the beat of a metronome, or trying to remember that the bow is supposed to go up, up,down-2-3-rest, slur-4; and not up, down, up-stop, lose-your-place. And memorizing music? Forget about it. I can’t even play entirely through a piece without getting stopped to “Look at this, Mommy”, or make a list for “Do you remember what we need from Target?”

I feel guilty wanting to buy a music stand, or for looking at violins online. It’s funny. When I mentioned that to my husband he pointed out that I haven’t really made that big an investment yet. After all, even my instrument is borrowed. Honestly, as hobbies go, the financial investment in this one has yet to approach what I’ve spent in yarn or glass supplies over the years. It’s mainly my ineptitude and the blow to my ego as a result that makes me feel as if I shouldn’t be doing this.

It’s temporary, I’m sure. Considering that I have been playing for all of nine months, I’m probably right on track. As long as I refrain from watching videos of 10 year olds playing solos on YouTube, I’ll be fine. Really.

From Terez Mertes
Posted on February 27, 2013 at 12:59 AM
>Perhaps if you tried to learn how to speak Japanese while juggling chainsaws and hopping on one foot, that might compare.


I was nodding my head at a lot of the things you wrote. I'm sure I wasn't the only one!

- Terez (another adult beginner/mommy/wife)

From William Horning
Posted on February 27, 2013 at 1:26 AM
It must be a Mom ex-wife and my fiance both have that issue. You have EVERY right to take a bit of time out of your day for YOU. Don't feel guilty, and don't give it up. Giving everything and not taking a little time for yourself isn't fair, and living an unbalanced life causes problems down the line. If it's something that gives you a bit of happiness, it can only make you a better wife and mother.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on February 27, 2013 at 1:32 AM
What is nice about being an adult student is you don't really have to prove anything to anyone. But you will get better and be able to play more music that you love, and it will be worth it :) I think we all--even those of us who have been playing for years--are better off avoiding those videos of 9-year-olds on YouTube!
From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on February 27, 2013 at 3:48 AM
Hi, interesting blog! pls take time for you... My sister just had a baby and she is studying too at the same time. Well, music is taking a down and she'll probably quit her beloved clarinet and excellent wind orchestra. She told me that she'll put the clarinet and her music stuff in a wardrobe and cry whenever she sees it... I find this terrible!!!
From Aaron Smith
Posted on February 27, 2013 at 2:49 PM
The major positives about adult amateurs is that we can play for the sake of the music itself--not because we have to, but because we want to. Keep at it! It is not a matter of "someday" I will play the violin, you are a player already. Enjoy the journey.
From Paul Deck
Posted on February 27, 2013 at 6:36 PM
Regarding watching ten-year-olds on YouTube who can play circles around me. The way I look at it is that if there were no such children, the future of classical music would be in serious jeopardy. In 10 years when I am still unable to play any of the major concertos, those children will be the rising stars of the next generation, playing and recording for us to watch and listen. Thank goodness for that.
From Geoff Caplan
Posted on February 27, 2013 at 8:36 PM
I started in my mid-50s and have plodded away for a few years. At first, as you say, it feels like westling with an uncooperative octopus.

Now, rather suddenly, everything is beginning to come together. The whole project feels much more reasonable, and playing is becoming hugely enjoyable. I've set myself ambitious but realistic goals (I'm never going to be a solist with the Berlin Phil) and I'm beginning to feel I might get there.

I'm sure that this will happen for you too, if you persist!

And goodness - why feel that you're being selfish? You can't give to your family if you don't nourish yourself. It's not as if you've taken up a bank-account killer like deep ocean racing or sports car racing!

From Krista Moyer
Posted on February 28, 2013 at 2:20 AM
It is so lovely to have a community of like-minded individuals to share these feelings with. Thank you all for your comments.
From Dottie Case
Posted on February 28, 2013 at 2:31 PM
What memories this brings back! I remember practicing in my kitchen by the counter while browning meat for spaghetti sauce, or sitting on the couch at night practicing my left hand silently while watching TV with the family.....stealing minutes wherever I could find them. It DOES and WILL pay off... bravo, and don't give up! Just know there will be times when real life intrudes even to the point where a week or more can pass.... nothing is wasted, and you will go forward and progress. Been there, done that, and now make my living partially with a violin. Kudoes!
From Christina C.
Posted on February 28, 2013 at 5:42 PM
If you like it, find a way to keep in your life.. the fun part starts when you get to play with others and that can be sooner than you may think.
From Krista Moyer
Posted on March 1, 2013 at 1:40 AM
I would love to find some folks with whom to play. The occasions where my instructor plays a duet with me have been really gratifying. Hopefully, it will not be long before I can feel comfortable playing in front of and with others.
From Ellie Withnall
Posted on March 1, 2013 at 3:22 AM
Being happy makes you a better Mom, playing violin makes you happy. No brainer!
From William Horning
Posted on March 1, 2013 at 3:36 AM

This is up in the DC area. Not sure how far down into Virginia they go. Might be worth contacting.....see if they have people closer to you that are interested.

From William Horning
Posted on March 1, 2013 at 3:41 AM
Craigslist is also an idea. Hit or miss, and I never meet anyone at home the first time. Always in public. Does your instructor have any other students that might be interested in playing together?

From Krista Moyer
Posted on March 1, 2013 at 12:07 PM

That website is a great list of resources. Sadly, all of the organization's activities are several hours away from me. It's nice to know that such a wonderful community is available, however. Perhaps I will luck into something more local.

From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on March 3, 2013 at 5:31 AM
Another mom and former adult beginner here. My youngest is 11 and I've been studying for about 6 years now. I'm also part of a start-up company along with my husband (and others). The violin keeps me sane. At one point, I realized that there would never be a better time to start, so I don't feel guilty.

I recommend getting the stand. It makes practicing easier, and when you do find people to play with, you'll want it. Right now I'm in a Scottish fiddle club and play weekly with a flautist. We're tackling Klezmer and it's a blast.

Best wishes!

From Chaim Hanstater
Posted on March 4, 2013 at 11:32 AM
I started out learning the my childhood passion the violin when I was 30. Work and the lack of a good teacher to set realistic goals for me was a setback. I had some kind of natural talent so I did progress, but not in the way I should have. I am now 46 and last year found a new excellent teacher, plus I set goals for myself to take exams from Grade 1 upwards (With ABRSM) and I am doing great. If you really want to learn DO NOT GIVE UP because you WILL get there. True, it requires patience and preservernce, but kepp the following in mind: 1) Find a good teacher 2) Set long term and short termed goals (maybe even take an exam, they are available worldwide and are accredited).

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