Why do Adults Learn to Play Violin Quicker than Children?
by Janice Tucker Rhoda
(Viola, Cello and Double Bass too!)
During our first violin class at Cambridge Center for Adult Education in Massachusetts, I ask new students:
"Were any of you discouraged from taking this beginner course, and were you told the violin is too difficult to learn as an adult, and don't bother??" 100% say YES!
This is an archaic way of thinking: “one must study violin at a young age or don’t bother.” Why are we told this, or naturally think this? After years of life’s pitfalls, do we automatically discourage ourselves from trying something new for fear of failure? Why are adults discouraged from learning something difficult? “As an adult, we can't get really good at something difficult?” “We must begin as children to get really good at it?”
Let’s nip this attitude in the bud!
I tell the students about my TOP 4 students over the past 35 plus years of teaching:
2 Adult prodigies and 2 Child prodigies.
1. A woman began in her 50s. She had a beautiful sound and vibrato, and became advanced enough to audition at a major conservatory. She practiced with a metronome all the time, so had the steady inner rhythm of a professional musician. She was a nurse professionally.
2. A gentleman began at age 50, and within 2 years played very advanced concertos, scales, etudes, and joined a community orchestra. He played piano previously, so could read music. He practiced one hour a day after work during the week, and 2 or 3 hours a day on weekends. He was a mathematician professionally.
3. A girl age 4 began reading and memorizing all her exercises and pieces, playing perfectly in tune. Later she played for the president and won major competitions. In the beginning she practiced a lot with her mother who accompanied on piano. This is an example of a dedicated parent helping a child progress to her full potential.
4. A girl age 5 played Vivaldi concertos perfectly in tune and read music extremely well within 8 months of playing. Her mother had 5 children, but was able to help her practice at home.
There are many other outstanding adult students who've gone on to play in orchestras like the Longwood Symphony Orchestra comprised of medical doctors in Boston MA. One of my former students has been in the LSO over 20 years.
7 Reasons ADULTS Learn Violin Quicker Than CHILDREN:
1. Adults learn to read music quicker!! They concentrate better, and don’t look away from the music. Once they learn to read they can take the book home, go ahead in the book and be very independent. They practice more scales, warm-up exercises, studies and pieces from the beginning. So, they develop technique quicker.
2. Adults are physically stronger and can hold the violin with a straight wrist in ONE SHORT WEEK! So, they learn the correct posture quicker. They can practice longer because they are stronger.
3. Adults are use to hard work at some level; I teach children to work really hard at something from scratch, so Adults play better quicker.
4. Adults are more motivated to practice, so they practice more and get better quicker. (they inspire each other in a group setting at the beginning level; it works well)
5. Adults have years of listening to music, so their intonation is better! (they play better in tune)
6. Adults can play a piece many times in a row in the beginning because they are stronger. So, they can memorize quicker.
7. Adults can think about more than one thing at a time; I’m teaching children to think about more than one thing at a time from scratch.
Learning Violin can be difficult and many people think it is the MOST difficult musical instrument to learn. However, during our 3rd class I ask Students if the Violin is a lot easier to learn than they thought it would be, and everyone says “YES!!”
When the 8 week semester is over, beginning students move on to our duet class and/or private lessons. I get very excited knowing people continued on with violin after the course. Their journey just began with my beginner course. They overcome their fears about playing a stringed instrument and raise their self-esteem in the process. Many develop a great hobby for life!
Janice Tucker Rhoda
Author of ABCs of Strings and Complete Technique
Published by Carl Fischer Music
Article: Why do Adults Learn to Play Violin Quicker than Children?
Copyright © August 10, 2009
by Janice Tucker Rhoda
Inspired by my Students and Teachers.
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Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass