QUOTE(kelly @ Feb 17 2008, 08:38 PM)
I am an adult beginner (Cello) - never learnt an instrument at school - never learnt to read music. Completely fresh to it at 30.
That means that at least you're not bringing any bad habits or mis-remembered, half-understood theory concepts from childhood. :-)
Adults tends to be better about things like practising because they usually have a more mature outlook than kids. When I was a kid, I was awful when it came to scale practice. Now that I understand why scales are important I just knuckle down and get on with them.
I look at what I'm playing (have only had a few hours worth of lessons so far) and I can see my small steps of progress already - but if I even dare let myself look ahead at how complex music can become and just how much there is to learn - I get overcome with doubt that I will ever get there. I am amazed people play to such standards - and I don't mean orchestra standard or even grade 8 - grade 1 scares me - grade 4 petrifies me - grade 8 is so far away from anything imaginable, I don't even think about it!!!
That sounds pretty normal to me, even for people who play other instruments and read music when they start. When I started flute, I think I had some vague ideas about maybe getting to grade 5 eventually, but I wasn't really looking beyond grade 2 in the short term. Now I'm working for grade 7 and would like to go for 8 at some point if I can sort out my problems with the top notes and with breathing.
The further you get, the further ahead you start to see being possible. Though there are certain big "milestone" levels which it can be hard to look beyond until you've achieved them (I'd say grades 1, 5 and 8 are probably the big ones, psychologically, for a lot of people).
Is there anyone on here who is playing at a decent level who started as a complete beginner as an adult and had these feelings? I just wonder whether the person who moves up through the grades - always thought and knew they would or whether they ever thought it seemed too hard to ever be within there grasp.
I started piano when I was 5 (though I gave up 4 years later) and have been able to read music for almost as long as I can remember, so that does give me a headstart. Even so, I've got a lot further than I ever expected to with some other things.
With flute, I knew I'd go through at least a few grades, but I hadn't looked very far ahead, and the idea of gettting to grade 8 just wasn't there at all.
If you're defining "decent" as grade 3-4, then yes, I always knew I'd get there on flute, but I already played other things, so I sort of knew the route. Working for g7 at the moment has me in completely uncharted territory and I'm feeling rather daunted by it. It's definitely not somewhere I ever expected to be when I took up the flute.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the standard you need to reach to sound pretty decent and to be able to play in various ensembles and to play some of the standard repertoire for your instrument varies enormously between different instruments. With flute, I could play pretty much anything in the hymnbook when I was doing grade 2, so I could play in church music groups and similar quite confidently. Piano, I have grade 5, but the hymnbook is full of things I can't get my fingers round and can't even imagine being able to get my fingers round. I can turn up at church with my flute 5 minutes before the start of a service and with no prior notice of what the hymns/songs are, and can play the whole lot, even transposing some of it into different keys on the fly if necessary. To play a single hymn on a keyboard instrument, I need a week or two advance warning, a complete list of all the hymns (from which I can choose whichever one is least scary!), hours and hours of practice and sometimes a sheet of manuscript paper (so I can write out a slightly simplified version!). Right now, on paper, I'm about the same standard on both instruments! (same grade, one pass, one merit), but in terms of what I can do with them in real life situations there's a world of difference.
I reckon that orchestral strings are a little slower going in the early stages than most woodwind, because you have to get used to putting your fingers in exactly the right places with no frets or anything to guide you. But it should be faster than piano as you don't have to read two staves of music at the same time and play different notes with each hand. I would guess that about grade 3-4 would be enough to be able to sight-read anything in a hymnbook quite comfortably.
Some very well known pieces of music appear(ed) on the flute syllabus from about grade 5 onwards. Whereas a lot of famous piano music is way beyond grade 8 standard. I don't know where 'cello fits on the spectrum, but there's a very cool CD available by Stephen Isserlis which is entirely of pieces that kids might encounter as they work their way through the early grades. One of them is entirely on the open strings! I've lent my copy to my flute teacher's husband (who's an adult beginner at the 'cello), so I can't tell you more about it right now, but I think you'd enjoy it.
I am not in a hurry - I love my cello so much I can't ever imagine not having it or not playing it every day - so getting better really quickly is not a concern - just understanding whether I will ever get to the point I can play with others and play notes shorter than a crochet!!!
I started violin at 17, which is near enough adult. Never had any lessons, just a few pointers from friends who play, and I havn't ever taken it particularly seriously. I'm currently playing at pre-grade 1 standard and I was able to play with others at a forums ensemble day last autumn. Barry brought along all the music, and it included special parts for "easy violin" which didn't go out of first position (which is good, cos I can't) and I would guess he had similar parts for 'cello too, though there weren't any cellists there.
So, playing with others will probably happen a lot sooner than you expect - you just have to find some people to play with. Check out the Forum Events forum (under the General Music Forum) and you should find details of forthcoming play days and so on.