Consistency, support and perspective are just some of the keys for continuous progress, writes violinist and teacher Rachael Ridge
Adult violin beginners face many unique challenges that kids often don’t have to face. These may include emotional, financial, physical, and even logistical obstacles. By simply picking up the violin and starting, these adults demonstrate tremendous courage and determination.
I have taught several adult beginners over the years who’ve expressed frustration at the obstacles they had to overcome. Some of these frustrations included:
• Not being able to afford lessons
• Not having enough time to practise
• Not having a good practice environment due to small kids or living in an apartment
• Judgement from peers
• Judgement from other violinists
• Being talked down to by violin professionals
• Physical injuries that make them less flexible
• Arthritis and joint stiffness
• Learned muscle patterns from years of work and life hobbies
…and the list could go on! With all of these hurdles to overcome, it can be difficult for adult beginners to stay motivated and positive in their violin learning.
Thankfully, there is a growing community of adult violin learners and teachers who want to support and encourage them along the way! In designing my online courses and building my community, I wanted to be sure to get feedback and insight directly from adult beginners. I interviewed several violin students and asked them how they stay motivated in their practice. Their responses were inspiring and I wanted to share some of their answers with you here today.
1. Surround yourself with a positive community of other adult violin beginners like you. Even if there is no one close to you physically, there’s a growing community on social media that you can get plugged into!
2. Find a teacher, whether in person or online, that supports you and gives you constructive feedback to grow.
3. Get creative with your practice time! One adult I interviewed would even practice in his car on lunch breaks when he knew wouldn’t have any other time that day.
4. Habit stack your practice. Is there something you do habitually that you could add your violin practice to? For example, instead of scrolling on your phone while drinking your morning coffee, practice your violin for 15 to 20 minutes instead. One person said they always practise while waiting to switch over their loads of laundry.
5. Be OK with shorter practice sessions. Some days you may be able to get in more time, but on the days when time is tight, it’s OK to practise only for 15 minutes.
6. If possible, leave your violin out. When you visibly see your instrument, you may be more likely to pick it up and play if you don’t have to unpack first.
7. When you are getting frustrated or overwhelmed, go back and play something for fun!
8. Set goals for yourself so you have something to work towards.
9. Stay consistent and schedule it in if you are able to. Consistency builds habits faster, so even a little bit every day is better than a longer practice session one or two days a week.
10. Remind yourself why you wanted to play in the first place!
Adult violin beginners face many challenges and it can be overwhelming and difficult to stay motivated. However, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone and there are many who have gone before you and want to encourage you on your journey!
If you’re looking for a community of adult violin beginners to join, check out The Adult Violin Academy Facebook group. You can also follow me personally on Instagram @rachael.ridge for more violin tips, education, and encouragement.
In The Best of Technique you’ll discover the top playing tips of the world’s leading string players and teachers. It’s packed full of exercises for students, plus examples from the standard repertoire to show you how to integrate the technique into your playing.
The Strad’s Masterclass series brings together the finest string players with some of the greatest string works ever written. Always one of our most popular sections, Masterclass has been an invaluable aid to aspiring soloists, chamber musicians and string teachers since the 1990s.
This year’s calendar celebrates the top instruments played by members of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony, Australian String Quartet and some of the country’s greatest soloists.
Best of 2023: The Strad Playing Hub
- Currently reading
10 tips on how to stay motivated as an adult beginner violin student