Note: Janet is no longer teaching in Chester (more info).
Whether you want to play classical, jazz, folk or even electric violin, a comfortable and efficient technique will give you a great advantage.
For details of Janet’s approach to technique, see a sound technique with ease.
The minimum age normally recommended is 7 or 8 years old. There is no upper age limit (see Adult Beginners).
Children who are younger than seven usually enjoy lessons, but, be aware, they are likely to need plenty of parental encouragement at home. This is because their expectations (which are usually to play “proper tunes” easily and almost immediately!) may be unrealistic.
The violin demands fairly complex skills of coordination. It is very important in the beginning to spend enough time laying good foundations for a lifetime’s playing with technical ease (see a sound technique with ease). In lessons, we do this with learning-games and plenty of good humour; but very young children sometimes cannot imagine bridging the gap between what they can do now and the tunes they long to play.
One option for very young children is to find a general music group such as (in the Chester area) Quavers: which lays the foundations of musical experience to help children learn any instrument when they reach an appropriate age. Such groups may advertise locally, or be listed in local libraries.
Older children tend to have more patience and more realistic expectations than younger ones. In addition, their nervous systems are physically more mature, so they are likely to learn more quickly anyway – which makes the whole process easier for the older child.
Even for those who give up after a while, learning the violin will not have been a wasted experience. It develops valuable coordination and concentration skills, as well as musical ones.
A parent’s support and encouragement is important. Sometimes a parent can help a child to structure the practice sessions at home (the art of practising isn’t easy!). Parents are welcome to sit in the lessons if they think this is helpful.
Starting the violin or viola from scratch as an adult is a challenge, but it can be a rewarding one if you love the instrument and its music. Although it is wise not to be too ambitious in terms of developing virtuoso technical skills, the repertoire of classical and other music is so wide that there should be little difficulty finding music that is rewarding to play at even quite modest technical levels. Patience, needless to say, is a useful quality for any player to cultivate – whatever their level of proficiency.
Ideally you should have lessons once a week for a few months at least, fitting in a minimum of three practice sessions in between. Once you have acquired a basic technique, you may find you can carry on independently – especially if you have any musical friends who are willing to play with you. However, in order to make further progress, you may choose to continue with lessons on a more long-term basis.
Janet has plenty of experience in teaching adult beginners, and aims for each lesson to be enjoyable as well as instructive.
Not everyone wants to take exams; but for some people, working for an exam can be a useful incentive to practise, and thus helps with continuing progress.
Janet offers coaching for ABRSM exams (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) up to Grade 8, and will advise pupils as to their suitability for an exam.
Playing with others
Making music with other people is one of the most rewarding forms of encouragement, right from the earliest stages.
If you have a friend or family member who plays the piano, keyboard, guitar, or another melodic instrument, it is worth mentioning this at the outset, as it may influence the choice of music Janet recommends.
Janet may be able to put pupils of a similar standard in touch with one another, and there are local amateur orchestras, including one or two that are suitable from Grade 3 standard.
There are several reasons why you might be considering (or even be forced into) changing your teacher.
Janet is happy to give trial / consultation lesson(s) to help you decide on your needs and on whether she is the right teacher for you.
You may want to browse through the rest of this site to get an idea of Janet’s teaching style.
Adults returning to play as a hobby
Did you learn the violin or viola as a child or teenager and are thinking of picking it up again?
Quite a few people find themselves in this position, and Janet is experienced in helping people to find their level. She can offer a ‘one-off’ consultation lesson, which may lead to a longer course of lessons.
Some people who take up playing after a gap of a few (or even many!) years will be able to resume at their former level. Others will need the reassurance of a complete “recap” from beginners’ level. Even with quite advanced players, Janet may sometimes recommend “starting from the beginning” for either technical or musical reasons – in these cases, however, the player should reach his/her original level of playing in a relatively short time; hopefully, with a more secure and comfortable technique (see a sound technique with ease).