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This statement crossed my mind on some occasions and I would like to hear your opinion (especially if some teachers are able to prove me wrong!).

Do violin teachers hate adult learners? Probably some do but they won't say it!
- The main reason could be that they don't take us too seriously: "He's 40, he want to start studying the violin now... He should GET A LIFE A WIFE, not a violin!"
- Maybe others like the challenge: "Let's see how this old man will do comparing to the 11 years old genius I teach!"
- And others may think:"An adult brain understands the concepts and I like that... But the body is a no go!"
- And my favorite:"They won't progress; they're spending their money for nothing while I'm making a profit... I know they'll come back next week!"

Assumptions, assumptions... However, I believe there is a bit of truce in the above. No matter how you turn it, studying a violin takes a lifetime and you don't want the violin to become a mid-life crisis.

On the other hand, I think I think I think...

- You need to choose a teacher that is willing to give lessons to an adult learner.
- Explain your level and what you are willing to achieve beforehand to create some credibility. If it's "for fun", mention it... If it's an "exploration", say it... If you're just bored and you're not too sure what to do with your life, don't say anything!
- Since lessons don't come cheap, plan a bit what you wish to achieve and set some expectations for yourself and your teacher. The goal, even if you're an adult learner, is essential.
- Frame your work and practice regularly (I bet you've heard that one before).
- Choose a good teacher... What I mean by that, don't choose someone who plays well to show you how to play (at least in a classical approach of the violin) but someone who's job is "to teach".
- Honesty is also an important element; be honest with yourself, your teacher, your potential, your violin and the maximum you can get from the whole thing.

We all need to be loved... Even by our violin teachers!

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I wonder why this should even be any kind of problem at all. I started learning the violin (although I already had fairly extensive musical knoweledge at the time) at 52. If the teacher has too many hesitations, just ask the next one. And besides, teachers know that our money is probably as good as a seven-year-old's.
Hi,

Interesting, I never considered that the teacher would think that way but it does make sense. Believe it or not I'm 40 and learning for the first time, when I was a child I wasn't really ready to take on an instrument but now I finally am. I am hoping that even though it takes a lifetime to learn that in the next 20 years I can become competent. I have heard that adult bodies don't quite do it, I guess I am fortunate in being tall with long arms and fingers that that doesn't seem to be an issue for me.

Something I have noticed as well is that many children who start the violin usually give up within a year but adults seem to persist with it because it's what they really want to do, they are making a choice where many children are being told to play by the parents. So is it worse for adults to take on an instrument or for many children to give up so quickly? It's an interesting discussion I've seen before and there are many views, I don't think one general view fits all people.

Oh and even though I'm 40 and playing the violin for the first year I have a wife as well!!!

;-)
I have been teaching for over 18 years and have taught a few adults in that time. Adults, unlike some children, are very motivatated to learn and practise. There are only two main differences between adult learners and children: firstly, adults ask a lot more questions and are more interested in the "whys & wherefores" of technique and secondly, they remember much more of what you tell them! Adult learners are very committed to practising also. So, no, I don't hate teaching adults. In fact, it's more the opposite.
Well...no

In fact, my favorite kind of students are "kids" aged 50 or older :) LOL

Seriously though I do like working with adult students. They are more of a challenge in some ways, but less challenging in social ways. My preference is to work with adults. I've been teaching professionally since 1986.
I really like your self-confidence and your statement around "money". Not that I experienced such a scenario as my post with a particular teacher but I've heard from other learners how their teacher wasn't really engaging them effectively during the lessons. Good luck with your playing!

Andre Nickell said:
I wonder why this should even be any kind of problem at all. I started learning the violin (although I already had fairly extensive musical knoweledge at the time) at 52. If the teacher has too many hesitations, just ask the next one. And besides, teachers know that our money is probably as good as a seven-year-old's.
Hi Darren... Thank you for your reply and your own reflection on the subject. I also believe presistence is an important factor in learning an instrument.

Darren Howard said:
Hi,

Interesting, I never considered that the teacher would think that way but it does make sense. Believe it or not I'm 40 and learning for the first time, when I was a child I wasn't really ready to take on an instrument but now I finally am. I am hoping that even though it takes a lifetime to learn that in the next 20 years I can become competent. I have heard that adult bodies don't quite do it, I guess I am fortunate in being tall with long arms and fingers that that doesn't seem to be an issue for me.

Something I have noticed as well is that many children who start the violin usually give up within a year but adults seem to persist with it because it's what they really want to do, they are making a choice where many children are being told to play by the parents. So is it worse for adults to take on an instrument or for many children to give up so quickly? It's an interesting discussion I've seen before and there are many views, I don't think one general view fits all people.

Oh and even though I'm 40 and playing the violin for the first year I have a wife as well!!!

;-)
I'm really glad you're on "our side" Gail :--)

Gail Tivendale said:
I have been teaching for over 18 years and have taught a few adults in that time. Adults, unlike some children, are very motivatated to learn and practise. There are only two main differences between adult learners and children: firstly, adults ask a lot more questions and are more interested in the "whys & wherefores" of technique and secondly, they remember much more of what you tell them! Adult learners are very committed to practising also. So, no, I don't hate teaching adults. In fact, it's more the opposite.
Adam... I'm glad to see that you like working with "grown-up kids" ;--) It's really interesting to see teachers' reaction on this subject. You mention the "challenge in some way" and I can understand that. I think also adults are sometimes worried to be judged. The relation teacher/adult learner could be a bit more complex. I still hope to get an opinion from a teacher who prefers working with younger students!

Adam said:
Well...no

In fact, my favorite kind of students are "kids" aged 50 or older :) LOL

Seriously though I do like working with adult students. They are more of a challenge in some ways, but less challenging in social ways. My preference is to work with adults. I've been teaching professionally since 1986.
I am an adult beginner who, 4 years ago, did not even know how to hold a violin or a bow. My instructor is a saint - for having put up with me (still). I began a child's book with drawings of half-apples for half-notes and the like, and notes the size of peas. I didn't care. I was so exhilarated in learning the violin, I just dug right into it.

To illustrate how 'bad' I was, I remember asking my teacher,"What is that little black box in the middle of the page?"

"It's a Rest,"he said.

"Oh good! How long do I get to rest?"

"One beat. Now move!"

I always have (and continue to always) do my best for him. However, I can tell that the questions I ask catch him off-guard sometimes. Still, he enjoys my lessons I think as much as I enjoy learning from him. I've gone from "peas" notes to Sevcik Book II and Hans Sitt Book II in 3 years. On viola, I am still in Sevcik Book I. I practice for about an hour every weekday and 4 hours/day on weekends.

Don't give up on us adults. Some of us out there really try and love our instructors for putting up with us.
I was also discouraged by a teacher a bit... but by reading all of these replies, it sounds like there are some great violin teachers out there! Thats reason to sign up for lessons again. =D
Adult learners can be great! You just have to consider how many demands there are on their time, and that there is usually an interest in getting the learning done as efficiently as possible. Just as for younger learners, the attrition rate will be in direct correlation to how soon the player may enjoy a group experience -- community orchestra, youth orchestra [yes, many allow adults!], chamber groups, duet partners, jam sessions....just look at the success of Suzuki violin programs that provide a group experience right from the beginning! SO, the teaching of the beginning adult student needs to be geared to rapidly equipping the player with the basics -- bow hold, basic left hand, note reading and "faking" strategies for beginning ensembles.
To help knock the bow hold off this list, check out the brand-new, patent-pending, instant-bow hold bow accessories at www.things4strings.com .
Then, on to the rest of the list!
I think the problem in conflicts comes, when an adult is willing to learn, but does not (cannot) put learning violin in top priorities.

They cannot have stable learning schedule which makes learning becoming difficult. It is especially true in Hong Kong that, working overtime is a norn (there is no law governing maximium working hours). You know, it is not a good feeling when you prepared a lesson, and at last, there is news that I cannot come tonight!

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