Am I too old?

Dale Lamps said: Dec 6, 2015
 3 posts

I’m pretty healthy but age 73. Am I over the hill for violin?
I did take lessons during summer break in 1963 (and liked it), and I’m a ‘pretty good’ amateur classical piano player (and would not stop doing that). And I’ve ‘finally’ retired from all my ‘jobs’. So I’m strong with nimble fingers, but even so, I’m concerned this might be an impossible thing, at this point, to make any satisfying headway

Gloria said: Dec 7, 2015
Suzuki Association Member
75 posts

Do not stop!!!
Why would you? Because someone says you are…too old,?
I teach piano, and one of my favorite students is in her mid seventies.
Why is chronological age such a big deal? I would say that is the last thing that matters.
Go for it! and have fun!.

Friederike said: Dec 7, 2015
Friederike Lehrbass
Suzuki Association Member
Plano, TX
87 posts

I have a student who is a beginner and 73 years old. I would say go for it.

Praise the Lord with the stringed instrument

Anita Knight said: Dec 7, 2015
Anita Knight
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Kent, WA
26 posts

Dale! You sound young and nimble at heart!
How many benefits can I list in this short space??

From my experience is, beginning adults with *any prior violin (and/ or musical experience), pick it up like riding a bicycle! That summer in ‘63 will serve you!
Top on the list of how to strengthen your brain and stay sharp: “learn a foreign language or learn to play a musical instrument!”
This can start a new life for you!

The title of a wonderful book by Kay Collier Stone says it all: “Rarely too young, and NEVER TOO OLD to Twinkle!”
Sounds like you are well qualified my friend!
Keep us posted on how it goes!!

Anita Knight
“Joyful Sound Violin Studio”

Catherine Van Drunen said: Dec 7, 2015
Suzuki Association Member
Piano, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Victoria, BC
1 posts

Thank goodness for positive feedback. I teach Suzuki Piano, but often wonder if it’s too late to get back into violin just for fun. I am 71, and don’t feel like quitting learning new things, or advancing in unfinished territory. Rock on, Dale.

Angela said: Dec 7, 2015
Suzuki Association Member
York Springs, PA
41 posts

You’re never to old. My oldest student was 81. I’ve been teaching for 23 years and a lot have come through the studio of all ages. Best wishes, don’t give up.

Angela Schlessman

Sue Hunt said: Dec 8, 2015
Sue HuntViola, Violin
403 posts

Just be very mindful of staying tension free in mind and body when you practice.

Laura said: Dec 8, 2015
Suzuki Association Member
Stanton, MN
26 posts


I have taught happy older beginners—there is a whole musical world that awaits you.

The word of advice I have for you is that the main physical issue my older students have dealt with is arthritis. Make sure that your instructor is good at problem solving technique. I have needed to come up with some creative options to work around a stiff finger or two. Proper flow of movement will prevent developing pain.

Dale Lamps said: Dec 8, 2015
 3 posts

I deeply appreciate all those terrific comments.
OK, now I’m motivated.
I suppose I’ll have to wait until after Christmas to get started, but I will move ahead right away to break my great-grandfather’s violin out of mothballs and acquire some new strings for it.
. . . . PLUS, I even have a local contact who strongly suggested linking up very soon with some of his family members to do some quartet exploration! (How is THAT for optimism ? ! ? ! )

Gloria said: Dec 8, 2015
Suzuki Association Member
75 posts

Wishing you all the best getting younger everyday!

Alan Duncan said: Dec 10, 2015
Suzuki Association Member
81 posts

I’m in a somewhat similar situation. I studied violin relatively briefly as a young person until differentiating into a pianist. For the last 20+ years, I’ve played almost exclusively from the piano trio & piano quartet literature—but always harbored a wish that I could shape the music in the way that string players do.

So why not try?

When my daughter began violin lessons, I started at the same time. Now, about 3 and a half years later I’m into Book 4 and enjoying it immensely. Practice time is always a challenge because I often have chamber music programs to play with ensembles so I get drawn back to the piano. And my daughter’s practice comes first.

I’d echo what others have said about tension. It sneaks up in all sorts of ways—tone production, vibrato, shifting. There are also specific issues related to the way that pianists play and memorize music that don’t mesh well with the same activities on the violin. I work with a Suzuki teacher. Memorization is required. While I memorize relatively easily at the keyboard—the violin is a different story. Similarly, I learned by reading—so the Suzuki “learn by listening” paradigm was tough for me.

I work with a Suzuki teacher who seems to enjoy teaching adults. There are 3 or 4 of us in the studio. She holds us to the same expectations (review, keeping up the repertoire) as the other students. Other than height differences in group classes, we’re all the same.

You may be interested in the book “Never Too Late: My Musical Life Story” by John Holt. Holt—an educator, widely recognized as the father of the American homeschooling movement began studying cello seriously in adulthood and became quite accomplished.

Ariane Alexander said: Dec 11, 2015
Ariane AlexanderViola, Violin
London SE14 5PP, United Kingdom
4 posts

Absolutely go for it! And may I suggest some yoga to go along with the violin lessons? Much of good violin technique is learning to release tension, and it’s helpful for anyone playing the violin to spend some time on this away from the instrument!

MaryLou Roberts said: Dec 15, 2015
MaryLou RobertsTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Ann Arbor, MI
287 posts

Just remember; you are one day younger than you will be tomorrow!

Edward said: Jan 20, 2016
Edward Obermueller
Suzuki Association Member
Morris Plains, NJ
73 posts

One of the reasons I am such a believer in Suzuki is that it transformed my own playing as an adult. I was trained first in Suzuki and then traditionally and then came back to it after a hiatus.

Here’s a bit of encouragement from an article I wrote about that process:

And, on a related note, how adult brain cells keep being remade:

Happy practicing,

Free Guide: Mom, Dad, Can I Practice?
Free Game: Leprechaun Practice System --> Works for online teaching!

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Dale Lamps said: Jan 21, 2016
 3 posts

Nice article, Edward.
All of the supportive comments really HAVE made a difference. Thank you all.

Emily Morgan said: Jan 21, 2016
Emily Morgan
Suzuki Association Member
Wilmington, NC
17 posts

Thanks, Edward! That is a great blog post!

Cheryl Ball said: Jan 22, 2016
Cheryl BallPiano
Dublin, OH
10 posts

As a Suzuki piano teacher I have been told that the method is for children more than once. However, as a child I had always wanted to take piano lessons, but family finances did not allow for it.

As an adult with children, I did not want my daughters to miss what I had always wanted. I began taking piano when I put my daughters into classes.
I loved it and continued on and eventually auditioned and became a teacher myself.

I now have an adult students. I have to say that I think there is not a better method for teaching musicality at any age! :)

Richard Franklin said: Mar 23, 2016
 7 posts

Just be very mindful of staying tension free in mind and body when you practice.

Plamen Arnaudov said: Apr 6, 2016
 2 posts

What everyone else here says, go for it. I’m 37 but only a 1 year old Suzuki violinist. One of the best things about the method is that it dips you into the music almost instantly. Enjoy yourself as you go, and it will keep you going.

As the great man himself said: “Never too old, and rarely too young to twinkle.”

Kurt Meisenbach said: May 29, 2016
Kurt Meisenbach
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
Plano, TX
45 posts

Dale, I am 67 years old, and have recently returned to the viola after a business career. I now teach violin and viola where I Iive in Uruguay and also through the internet. One of my students is my older brother, a retired doctor who lives in Austin, Texas.

Age 73 should not be a deterrent to you. The key question is how well do you need to play in order to enjoy it? Only you can answer this question. It is important that you ask yourself this question. The answer will enable you to determine the level of effort you need to commit. It will also help you to gauge your progress.

I suggest that you find a teacher who teaches adults and commit to study for at least 3 months. After this time you and your teacher can have a fact based discussion about your goals and what is needed to achieve them. Don’t start your journey with preconceived limitations. Start it with a sense of discovery and good practice habits. Some of my happiest students are adults.

The most important thing is to learn quickly how to practice efficiently. Some teachers are better than others in sharing this knowledge, so ask around to find a teacher who can provide you this critical guidance.

I haven’t asked you how much you are planning to practice, but in my experience, in your situation anything less than 1.5 hours a day will be inadequate for you to find out during those three months of study what your possibilities are. My older brother practices three hours each day and has made remarkable progress. Talk with your teacher.

Good luck!

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