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Teaching Adult Beginners

Posted by paulinefiddle on Friday, March 8, 2013

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I am a patient, encouraging teacher of beginners of all ages, and many of my students are adults.  A lot of adult beginners approach me saying, “I don’t even know whether it makes sense to start at my age” or “I have no experience with music.  Can I start now?”  I tell them, “It is never too late to start doing something you love.” 

You can read about me as a teacher on the website I made for my students,,   and on my personal website. sure to read about my adult beginners, too  

I have found one big difference between adult beginners and kid beginners:  Adults are impatient. The adult beginners often want to jump ahead and do complex things before they master the basics. They also get frustrated easily because they think that, "I've been studying for a year. I should be able to do this right by now."  I tell them them to remember that the violin is a very technical instrument.  I also advise them to give themselves high marks and feelings of accomplishment for every increment of progress, no matter how small.  A teacher who has experience with adult beginners can help by giving you positive feedback whenever it is justified.

Of course, adults’ bodies are not the same as kids’ bodies. Often I find that adult beginners, especially adult males, can not use their hands and fingers in the preferred way,  I have to help them find ways to "cheat" and still produce a good sound.  I treat each student as an individual and avoid the "one size fits all" approach.


Playing the violin can cause muscle cramps, especially while learning.  The people who are most often affected are adult males because their muscles are large.   You can not play the violin with muscle cramps, just as you can not run with leg cramps.  Stretching can help you keep your muscles healthy and pain free, and it is important for all violin players, particularly for adult males. I recommend stretching before, during, and after practicing.  I have a page on my website with videos of helpful stretches, and I teach these stretches to my students.
I love teaching adult beginners.  My lessons are stimulating, fun, and rewarding for both me and my students.  

3 comments on “Teaching Adult Beginners”

EricBluegrassFiddle Says:
Friday, February 21, 2014 @5:08:55 AM

I'm approaching 40 ( this August ) and even though I play mandolin and fretless banjo already, have decided that now I'd like to learn the fiddle. I actually wanted to learn the fiddle first as a kid but my mom and dad wouldn't buy me one because they thought it would be too difficult an instrument to learn on I guess that's why I ended up playing the Frenchhorn all through high school and 1 year at college ( yeah that's an easy instrument right? ) I appreciate your insights in this blog post. I come from an old Kentucky family and there were a few fiddlers in the past down through the years. My great great grandfather was a well known dance fiddler in the area where he lived in western Kentucky and I have a cousin carrying on that tradition today. My goal is just to be able to learn to play well enough old-time fiddle to play in time at jams and develop a decent repertoire of songs so I can play for old-time dances and get togethers, mainly for personal enjoyment. I'd like to add you as a fiddlehangout friend and I'll look forward to your future blogposts and comments!

paulinefiddle Says:
Friday, February 21, 2014 @9:55:42 PM


That sounds like a great idea. You'll be part of a family tradition. Your goal of learning enough old time tunes to play at jams is both realistic and fun. I'm glad you like my blog posts. Are you going to start with a teacher? I'd recommend it since I'm a violin / fiddle teacher. Let me know how you're doing from time to time. The violin is a difficult instrument to learn because it is very technical, but it is also very fun and rewarding.


EricBluegrassFiddle Says:
Sunday, February 23, 2014 @5:39:13 AM

Well, in my area there are no teachers in my city here in Argentina where I am currently living. I even had to do my own set up on my fiddle, thanks to the help of alot of nice folks here on the fiddlehangout giving me pointers. It took me a few hours but I have the bridge and nut lower and its more comfortable now. The left hand intonation is not sooo tough, its the same as the mandolin, a bit more cramped with no frets. However The bow I can tell is really where it's at. Def a little awkward but I think I can get the hang of it with practice. Its alot of fun I can tell, although my cheapie fiddle sure is loud way up near my ears!

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