Many of my friends are surprised when I tell them that there are many adults who wish to learn a music instrument. In fact, seven out of ten students who enquired and decided to start music lessons with our music school are adults. I am actually not surprised.
Majority of our new music students decide to take up adult violin lessons. Most adult learners were not given the opportunity to learn the violin as a child. It was something that they desired to learn, but for whatever reason — it could be due to financial constraints when they were young, or it could be due to their parents not encouraging them to pick up violin playing skills — they were denied the opportunity to learn to play the violin as a child. These adult students are typically very motivated and progress very well in adult violin lessons.
Check out the video here of an adult violin student who has had close to three years of violin practice:
Video Source By: Violin Noobie
When I ask adult violin students what are the factors which determine their selection of a violin school, these factors stand out:
Quality of Violin Teachers
All adult music students have a prime prerequisite when looking for a violin school in Singapore. The quality of the violin teacher is very important. They typically look for a violin teacher who has many years of coaching experience, and has experience coaching adult violin lessons. Reason being teaching adults violin is very different compared to coaching young children the same music instrument. Adults have fully developed cognitive functions, however may not have the dexterity of fingers to be able to play the violin well initially. A very experienced violin teacher in Singapore will guide adult violin students to strengthen their fingers via technique pieces. The effective technique pieces most frequently used are by Rowsby Woof or Herbert Kinsey. Technique pieces can focus on the first, second, third or fourth finger positions. After diligently practicing these technique pieces, violin adult students achieve the finger dexterity required to effectively progress well.
Aside from experience of the violin teacher in Singapore, adult students also place importance on the qualifications of the violin teacher. Typically, junior violin coaches have ABRSM (Associated Board of Royal School of Music) Grade 8 qualifications. One level up will be the diploma ABRSM qualifications. Higher level qualifications will be a violin teacher who has Bachelors of Music (BMUS) degree from an accredited music conservatory. Typically these teachers go through intensive performance training in a major music instrument — this could be the violin, viola, cello, bass, saxophone, flute and so on. Some teachers take a second music instrument for their BMUS degree. The music degree program may also include courses on pedagogy which covers the techniques of coaching students of all ages. If a violin teacher in Singapore wants to advance his or her qualifications, there is also an option to go abroad for a year to get Masters of Music qualifications.
Learning Environment of the Violin School in Singapore
The second factor in determining the choice of violin school for adult students starting violin lessons, is the learning environment of the violin school in Singapore. Learning environment can include the physical aspect of the school, as well as the soft aspects of the environment. Let me elaborate.
The physical aspect of the location the school will include proximity of the music school to the adult student’s work or home locations. If it is near to work location, the adult student can plan lessons during lunch break or after work hours. Next, the quality of the studios of the violin school – are the studios sound proof? Is the space designated for studios big enough? Does the school have a piano in one of the studios for piano accompaniment rehearsal as well as aural coaching?
The soft aspects of the environment of the school includes the following: does the school have an active and motivated group of violin students who plan practice sessions? The practice sessions can be duet (first and second violin, violin and cello, violin and piano), trio (violin, viola and cello, or violin, piano and cello) or quartet (first and second violin, viola and cello). At Stradivari Strings, we have very motivated violin students who take ownership of their musical progress and make it a point to come together to practice every week. During the week they will agree on the repertoire and each musician works on his section. During the group practice they come together to practice. I notice that such students progress very fast as their enthusiasm rubs off on each other.
Structured Progress or Leisure Learning
When one starts adult violin lessons, there are two options to progress. One is the ABRSM (Associated Board of Royal School of Music) route, the other is leisure route. For adult violin students deciding on a violin school, one requirement will be to see if the music school has the flexibility or both a structured coaching program as well as leisure learning.
If an adult student would like to track his progress via the ABRSM examination system, he will be well advised to check with the music school on its track record in this area. However if one is not so enamoured with academic results via a worldwide music examination board, one can choose the leisure learning route.
Leisure learning does not mean that one’s progress stays put at playing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Stars” or “Baa Baa Black Sheep” after several years of adult violin lessons. The violin teacher in Singapore should progress the student by spending time to build the foundation. When that is firmed, guide the student through beginner, intermediate and advance level playing tehniques.
Methodology Adopted by the School
We need to be aware that different people learn music in different ways. Some learn by hearing (auditory learners), some learn by looking or reading (visual learners), and others learn by feel.
Auditory learners learn by listening to a music piece. Then figure out the finger positions on the violin fingerboard by hearing, and imitate the violin teacher’s playing style accordingly. These students learn the practical aspects of playing the violin fast. However are typically weak in sight reading. As such the music school and the violin coach need to identify this weakness and focus on sigh reading skills accordingly.
Visual learners of music usually learn music theory as a base and correlate that to practical playing application on the violin. The speed with which they learn the violin may be slower but their foundation in sight reading and music theory are better.
Students who learn by feel are the most complicated. These individuals are very sensitive and in touch with their inner soul. Playing the violin connects them to their soul. They require very experienced violin teachers in Singapore to coach.
As such, an adult learner needs to look for a music school which has very experienced teachers who have the ability to coach students who learn differently.