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My Experience as an Adult Learner

While I was studying to become a violin maker, I spent a year working part time as the manager of a music shop in North London. We mostly catered to parents of children learning an instrument and local independent music teachers. During my time there I met countless parents who would ask me whether I play an instrument and then look wistfully into the distance recalling the instrument they had started learning, and subsequently abandoned as a teenager. I was once one of these people – I started learning violin as a child and promptly gave up when I hit my teenage years. This is an extremely common phenomenon, and one which drives parents up and down the country barmy. They view it as ‘giving up’ when actually, it could just be a ‘temporary pause’ in their playing journey.

Playing an instrument can be demanding, and for those of us who weren’t talented enough to take it on as a career, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for teenagers who are overwhelmed by exams to continue to put pressure on themselves to make progress on their instrument. The flip side of this of course is that if approached sensitively, it can be a very effective creative outlet for a stressed teenager, but in my experience, I just had to let go of something and the violin was relegated to the black hole under my bed along with seemingly all my socks.

In my mid-twenties, though, I found that I had more time and less pressure on me. With no more exams to do and with a steady job came more disposable income. So I decided to put an end to my violin pause, and get playing. I got in touch with a teacher, rented a violin from a local luthier and before I knew it I was a violin player again.

As an adult I was able to approach the violin with all I had learnt about myself at university – I knew how to study properly and I also knew how to have some autonomy over what, and how, I wanted to learn. My teacher and I have a collaborative approach – she’s a guide, and so the whole experience suits me much better than when I was younger.

In fact, I enjoyed playing the violin so much that I decided to do an entire career change, and enrolled on a violin making and repair course in London. Three years later I now work as a luthier and am working towards my grade 6 ABRSM exam.

Of course, not everyone needs to be quite so dramatic and turn their life upside down for the violin, but my point is that as adults we can rekindle a hobby that we had as a child and still get a lot out of it. Strings Together is perfect for those of you who have a sad violin or cello hiding in the attic, just calling to be picked up again. Or perhaps you never played before and are looking for a new challenge: whatever your experience level, if there’s a little voice at the back of your head telling you, “well that might be fun…” you should listen to it and join us!

Strings Together can guide you through the whole process: perhaps you don’t have an instrument at the moment, or aren’t sure what level you should start at – just get in touch and we’ll be happy to help. - Emma Hardy Co-founder, Strings Together

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