How You Started the Violin

Personally, I started the violin last year, when I was eleven. Now I am twelve, and sadly my classical teacher retired so that's when me and my dad began looking for websites to learn the violin on, since this pandemic is going on and wouldn't be able to find and actual teacher in town. My name, by the way, is Kimberley Harris, and I am a christian, and have a <em>very</em> musical family. Our whole family loves bluegrass, and ever since I was little I've always wanted to play the violin. I wouldn't mind learning the mandolin, too.

I am still grade one on the violin, but I love bluegrass and John's lessons are so easy, since I'm on beginner.

Thanks, John! Your lessons are very enjoyable!

- Kimberley :P


  • Welcome, Kimberley!  I think you are the perfect age for getting going on the fiddle.  I hope we can hear some of your playing at some point.  There's plenty of great lessons to keep us all busy for a long time here.

    You're lucky to be getting an early start.  I just started playing at the age of 55, I guess about when you were busy coming into the world and making yourself  Have fun fiddling!
  • Hi Kimberly and welcome! I started when I was thirteen years old. My brothers and I decided to make a band, and my mom decided to take lessons from a local music shop and teach it to my little brother. However, I loved the fiddle so much that I decided to play it! I borrowed a fiddle from a friend and started learning on my own, then when I was 14 I asked a local fiddler, Joel Little, to give me lessons. I took lessons from Joel until I graduated from high school.

    I'm glad you found the site during this trying time. I hope you continue to enjoy it!
  • Thanks so much, I'm looking forward to my future education on the fiddle! :)

  • Welcome to the site Kimberly!

    I started playing when I was 14, and I wanted a mandolin but couldn't find one so I got a fiddle instead! I found BGD a year later, and it's definitely a great place to learn!

    Also, if you want some mandolin lessons is giving monthly memberships for $5 right now for a month, so go check his site out too!
  • Hey Gunnar!

    Thanks! My dad has the Banjo Ben membership right now, and he's doing some guitar! I knew that he was doing it $5 for the month of April due to the Corona.

    Kimberley :P

  • Hi Kimberley,

    I am pretty new here too,   I started taking lessons when I was almost 55 years old, I am sure that sounds really old to you, but it was only 2 years ago.   I started out with a local classical teacher, but I wanted to learn fiddle.  last fall I started with a fiddle teacher, but the lessons are short . so this is a great  supplement to those lessons.

  • I got tired of lugging a banjo around bluegrass festivals. I got jealous of the fiddlers. Fiddles are light. Fiddles are cool. Fiddle tunes are fun. Fiddles are often the most respected instrument by other players; most of them know how hard it is to get good enough to play a fiddle outside of a padded room.  And finally, there are very seldom old banjo pickers around. But most of the good fiddlers in my circles are well over 70.  Old fiddlers are awesome. A few of my buddies are still sawing away and still sound great at around 90 years old. And they know every tune that gets thrown out there in a jam. I want to be that guy some day, Lord willing!
  • I agree with Beardog...I'd much rather go to a jam carrying a fiddle case than a big ol' heavy banjo
  • Welcome Kimberly. I started when I was 63. That was last year and I am still scratching away! I always loved fiddle music and dreamed of being able to play. I don't know why I waited until I was 63, but better late than never.
  • Hi Kimberly. Welcome to BGD.You couldn't have come to a better place. John's lessons are the best. I hope as you progress you post on BGD, as it will be an inspiration for all. I didn't start lessons on here until I was 65. I build violins as a hobby and just started building guitars. Good luck and keep us posted.

  • Welcome Kimberly. I started playing when I was 10. My grandmother played and I asked her to teach me Turkey in the Straw. It just kept going from there!!
  • I started at 55 as well as some of these folks.  I listened to a girl about 10 play the Old Rugged Cross in church one day.  I was so inspired I thought "I can learn to play too".  That was 6 years ago.  Still playing and it is NEVER too late to learn.  Keep plugging away and maybe we will see you on stage one day!!!!
  • Welcome Kimberly,

    I started almost three years ago at 45. This is an awesome site.
  • Kimberley, you are SO lucky to start at your young age, and to have an interested parent. I have noticed several kinds of folks around the bluegrass and fiddle festivals that I frequent.

    1) Stage/recording professionals, who also like to jam. This is pretty common, and is always a blast. Everyone plays better when a pro is in the jam. Their timing, drive, and ability just drives every tune to a higher level.

    2) People who started young (before 16-18 years of age). They are almost always awesome musicians very early on, and either are presently capable, or soon will be capable of playing professionally.

    3) People like myself, who have a strong background in music from a young age. We can get fairly good, depending on dedication level and practice commitment, but will never be at a professional level. I started playing bluegrass/old-time way too late (45 years old), and I tried to play too many instruments at first, (banjo, fiddle, bass, guitar, even the mandolin). I finally settled on the banjo for a few years, as I said in a post above, then recently changed my mind (but I am now committed to only the fiddle!).

    4) Folks like some of the absolute adult beginners here, who start out with no background in music. But, they often show enough commitment and drive to be able to get pretty good as well, and are welcome in just about every jam. They frequently can play in local bands, too.

    5) And finally (and unfortunately), there are always way too many adults who start on an instrument, then quit. They sit around the edges and listen, but never get up the courage and commitment to stick with something long enough to learn how to "fly on their own".
  • Welcome and have fun !
  • Thanks so much everyone!

    It's amazing to see the ages and talents that are dug up and used once again!

    The truth is, you don't really have to a certain age to start.

    You could start at three, or at eighty even! It doesn't matter.

    It's never to early or to late!
  • I agree, Kimberley...if you wanna go pro, you might be better off if you got lucky enough to start early...but if you just wanna enjoy the music and playing around locally, ANY age is the right age for learning!  Then I also think of stuff like the artist, Grandma Moses, who was just about 80 when she took up painting, if my old age memory serves me, and became a well-respected and admired never know!
  • Absolutely! I think that my longish post was really based on the fact that the younger one starts, the greater the potential. several of my jam buddies (who are MUCH better musicians than I will ever be) would be capable of playing professionally, they just have no desire to do so. They all started playing at a young age. Enjoying music and learning to play an instrument with others is never out of the reach of at any at any age.
  • I honestly don't think it's important if you're talented or not, just if you enjoy the new hobby and have fun out of it.

    Many people out there are talented, and learning an instrument is a breeze, but still, it's the practice that makes it work out!

  • Welcome! I started at about your age.  I played into my early 20s and then quit.  I took about a 15 year break from playing but I started back up this last year.  My advise to you is don't quit! :-D
  • They might be happier not worrying about going pro.  I have had many friends in the past who were really, really good musicians...of course in their youth they dreamed of becoming professional musicians...but...the only ones who got to where they are unknowns, hard-working, sacrificing and extremely dedicated but low paid musicians were lucky enough to marry spouses with decent jobs and insurance and all of that...seems like most people will never, ever earn a living from music, unless you don't mind being homeless and eating from the food bank.
  • How to have one million dollars ($1,000,000) as a musician:

    start with two million! ;)
  • Lol...that sounds about right, Fred!
  • Music has always been in the family as a child I listened to my grandparents play , My Grandpa was a share cropper , A lot of time when he came in from the field he would set in his chair and pick around on his guitar , then usually fall asleep with it in his arms , My Dad and Mom played with family and friends at our home or somebody's else's home , no one played professionally , except I heard story's of my Dad and his family played for what ever they could get during the great depression and when the depression was over they quit because of burn out ! I tried when I was younger and soon found out there's a lot of really good musicians out there and not much room at the top , however I love to play and sing so will do so, till I am six feet under . My little sister has always had Her a band going, either hers or someone else's band , I was mostly a solo player in bars and caf
  • Hi Kimberly and welcome.  I guess I did like Nancy. I play piano at church (not because I am any good. . .but no one else plays) and I really don't enjoy the piano. I heard a young girl one day at church play Amazing Grace and it was so beautiful so my brain went to analyzing. . . piano  88 strings . . . violin  4 strings . . . piano playing notes with 2 hands and sometimes 4 fingers. . . violin. . looks like one finger and one note at a time. . . . .piano reading music as much as four notes at a time. . . violin  looks like one note at a time  . . . piano 2 hands going sometimes the same direction and sometimes not. . . violin one hand plays notes the other just goes up and down.  So I deduced that violin was easier so I looked them up on Amazon and was amazed I could get one for under $100   And I also ordered a book called Violin for Dummies.  lol  All I ever desired was to play hymns at church. This was in 2011 and I was 49 years old. I learned some hymns and loved the instrument so much I had to take lessons so I signed up with a classical teacher at age 49. I hated bluegrass and you couldn't pay me to listen to it. Somewhere along the way. . . I heard a few fiddle tunes and they sounded like fun. Classical violinists pretty much look down on fiddle players, and my teacher was no exception. She is a great teacher, she still teaches now and she is in her 80's. She would play some fiddle tunes with me to vary the repertoire. And somewhere amongst the fiddle tunes, gospel music came in, which I have always liked, but fiddle worked well with it. And some friends got me to play with them at a rest home and they mixed in some bluegrass and all of a sudden bluegrass wasn't so bad. And a monster (me) was created. I went to a few bluegrass jams and it was quite fun. I do give John 110% credit for teaching me how to jam. I had no clue haw to play by ear and my classical teacher was no help. John explained it to me and demonstrated it and in 10 minutes I could do it. I left my classical teacher after 6 years of Suzuki teaching. Made it ti Suzuki book 7. I switched to a fiddle teacher in 2017 and I still take fiddle lessons today. Books and videos are great but there is nothing like 1 on 1 instruction and help. Before the world got flipped upside down with this virus, I was attending at least  1 if not 2 jams a week and loving it. I can't wait to get back to jamming and lessons. I wish I had started earlier in life . . but. . . I am enjoying it now so I am just looking forward and having fun. The most important part is to have fun.
  • Fran

    where did you see the lesson on playing by ear???????????
  • Nancy. . . .sorry, there is no lesson on playing by ear. My daughter was working the summer at a golf resort about 30 minutes from where John lives so I rudely invited myself to his home and he was most obliging and our families hung out for the evening and that is when he explained and demonstrated how to play by ear. I did allow him to decline my imposition with no ill feelings on my part, , , but he and his family are most hospitable and friendly and nice.  His wife, Jennifer is most lovely and a great host.  Even the dogs were friendly. Maybe John could create a lesson on playing by ear. He was the first one that explained it to me who made sense. And it is so easy to play by ear. . . I couldn't believe how long I had struggled.
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