Are you an adult learner?
I’m an adult learner too! I’ve started to play the violin at the age of 30, one year ago. I had no idea if this was going to work out or not. All I knew was that I love to listen to violin music. And that to me it’s the most beautiful instrument, both its sound and its aesthetics. I started my first day with lots of scratchy sounds. I didn’t even know that I’m not supposed to to touch 2 strings at once (except of course for double stops). Once I figured out that only one string should be touched with the bow, and after tuning my violin for about an hour, I was finally able to play some notes. I could play soon Frere Jaques! Although nobody could recognize it but me LOL That was my first day with my violin. I was so happy and excited!!
Now, we’re one year later and I’m still happy and excited about my violin. I would love to share with you my 0 – 12 months violin progress video.
My violin adventure as an adult learner, has had its ups and downs. But there are more ups than downs! I had some downs after three or four months. I was already able to play some easy songs, but I didn’t like my sound and I had no structured idea of how to progress. I have no violin teacher, so I needed to provide myself with some structure. That’s when I found the YouTube channel of Heather Broadbent and learned about her great exercises. I had found the structure I needed and a progressive way to learn.
I think one of the most important things while learning the violin as an adult is learning to produce good sound. At least to me it’s like that. It doesn’t matter so much if the song is easy or hard, but I really do want it to sound nice. Maybe learning the violin as a child is easier because children in general don’t worry so much about their sound. As adults we already have a very clear idea of what our violin should sound like and if we can’t do that it is demotivating. That’s why large part of my practice time goes to sound production, bow control and intonation.
Here I share with you some tips, books, etc that I find very useful.
I’ve found these videos to be very helpful to improve tone production.
Todd Ehle shows a cool exercise to learn to put more weight in the bow.
Nine awesome exercises to improve bow control and tone! Love them!
At first I didn’t work on intonation. I didn’t even know what the word meant. Then I learned how important it is to work on intonation, especially for an adult learner. Because as and adult learner, we know exactly what we want to sound like and when we don’t work on intonation it sounds horrible. For me it’s very demotivating if my intonation is off. So I started using my tuner much more, he actually became my best friend. But I also learned that is is very important learn to listen to each pitch. Here is an article that I really liked about the pitches.
The two main things that are helping me to work on intonation is playing scales and doing fourth finger fitness. Here are the books I use:
Also wanted to share this video with you. It’s the video that motivated me to be serious about scales and how to make it more fun!
I love playing violin etudes. I believe they are very helpful to focus on technique. So far I’ve been playing etudes from Wohlfahrt Opus 45, Hans Sitt Opus 32 and Robert Pracht Opus 12. With these etudes I’ve been focusing on:
- playing in different keys
- working on rhythms with metronome
- wrist flexibility
To improve my technique I also find these 52 violin proficiency exercises extremely helpful. There is an exercise for each week of the year but of course one can take more time for each exercise. I usually take 2 or 3 weeks per exercise. So far I’ve loved the exercises about how to play crescendo, grace notes, double downs and double ups, chromatic scales, string crossings, …
What’s up for my second year of learning the violin
I really hope this second year as an adult learner is going to be as much fun as my first year. I’ve been posting my video on violinist.com too and I hope I will receive good feedback there and some tips as to what I can work on this year.
My ideas so far are these:
- Shifting up to fifth position or higher. Don’t know how far I’ll go since I haven’t started yet.
- I want to continue to improve my intonation. I think I’ll have to work even harder on this when I start shifting.
- So far I have hardly played any double stops. Some fiddle songs and the concertos had one or two double stops. But I’ve never really focused on playing double stops well. So, I’m going to focus more on bow control and correct intonation when doing double stops.
- I want to play the entire Suzuki book 3 this year. It’s actually only 7 pieces, so I think that should be doable.
- Also, more often I want to memorize a piece. I memorized one piece now and it was great, so I think I’ll benefit from doing this more often. And I hope this will become easier over time.
- This year (this month) I also want to change my strings for the first time myself!! Hope I don’t do anything wrong. I’m curious about how this will change and hopefully improve the sound…
- Most importantly, I want to keep having fun with my violin!!!!