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I'm a 32 year old software developer who has a full time job, a family and a very limited amount of spare time. I've never played an instrument, and have next to no knowledge of the field.

One thing that I've always wanted to do is learn to play violin. No other instrument holds any interest to me. What I need is guidance. Is this feasible? Where should I start? Any tips that can help me get going and avoid me wasting my time would be appreciated. Thanks!

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    Wait, did you ever end up in a music class, or at the very least played a drum in your youth? How about singing experience? – Dekkadeci Nov 22 '19 at 11:03
  • One thing to look out for with a family is time to practice while Not distracted. If your house allows you to play after the kids are asleep I recommend that. But this can become a noise issue as you don’t want to wake the kids. This is why I mostly play an electric guitar through headphone. You can’t really do that with a violin so consider how you will get over this before jumping in. – b3ko Nov 22 '19 at 14:55
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    @b3ko one of the best ways that I've found to do this with a string instrument is by using a practice mute, they can be found on amazon. – JIMMYPlay Nov 22 '19 at 15:57
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    @Dekkadeci No, I have literally no music knowledge. However, I will note, that before I was 24 I was just as computer illiterate and now I'm a full time software developer. But I was able to dedicate a lot more time to learning back then than I am now. – Ben Nov 22 '19 at 16:01
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    It takes about 3 years (full-time study) to become a software developer. 5 for doctor. 10 for musician. Just sayin'! Some of my earliest memories are sitting at the piano and picking out "do-a-dear." Yet I would not class myself beyond ½-assed as a musician. Dobt want to be discouraging – just help you set right expectations. – Rusi Nov 23 '19 at 2:16
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The first place to start is to purchase a violin, if you have not already... You can't start playing music without an instrument ;p

That said, I will give you some of the advice that I gave in this question:

What is takes to play any music seriously is a drive and passion for playing music. Unless you are a prodigy, long hours of effort and practice are required... and perhaps, a certain thickness of skin in the instances in which you will inevitably be frustrated, burn-out, be negatively criticized, experience pain/injury, etc

I hazard answering this with a question but... what do you want to get out of it? If you are simply looking to recite your favorite songs, practicing those songs until you can replay them may be all that's required... If you are looking to write original music, some level of creativity and knowledge of music theory may be required. I say 'may be' because you can possibly write music without these skills/qualities but, you and others may not be so happy with the final results...

That said, it's going to be very difficult for you to practice anything without learning the basics... And if you have no spare time, then teaching yourself is going to be highly improbable, if not completely impossible... which means you will need lessons of some sort.

You mention you have a family, if you have children, and they show any interest in playing music (specifically violin since it will be very difficult to take a simultaneous lesson for two separate instruments,) then I would suggest that you and your child(ren) begin learning how to play together. It is always feasible to learn new things but, you will have to set aside some time in order to do so. Taking lessons together will teach you and your child(ren) a new skill and it will also give you an opportunity for quality time together.

I'd argue (based on my opinion) that learning new things is never a waste of time... But, again, it depends on your level of determination and what you expect to get out of your learning experience... You can't get discouraged easily (like if your child progresses faster than you or if you can't play Paganini after a single month of lessons.)

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    Don't purchase : rent. Especially for the bowed-string instrument family, you'll pay a lot of money for a playable student instrument. Far better to rent for a couple of years, then if you want to continue , buy one. Added advantage that you will now know what sort of sound you'd like to get - violins vary like crazy! – Carl Witthoft Nov 22 '19 at 13:30
  • For sure rent. This allows you try, realize it’s not for you or you don’t have time and not be stuck with an expensive instrument you didn’t need. – b3ko Nov 22 '19 at 14:53
  • Don't purchase, find a teacher and see if they have one you can borrow (that's what I did). – marcellothearcane Nov 27 '19 at 18:49
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You will need to find the time for regular practice. It doesn't have to be long - 15 to 30 minutes a day is far better than nothing.

Pretty soon, you'll need a teacher. Otherwise you will end up learning to play wrong. There is only so much that YouTube videos can do.

You will need a degree of grim determination. When you are faced with a piece that you just can't play, and the only solution is to keep doing it over and over again, maybe for a few hours, until you finally manage it.

If you haven't played before, then I guess that you can't read music either. That will also take some time, and more effort. Be aware that going from unable to read music to proficient sight reading can take a few years. Learning to play a piece of music when you have to decode the score note by note can be very slow.

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There are any number of ways to learn to play music. Children can learn to play just by treating their instrument as a toy and spending a lot of time playing with it. They become very familiar with what it can do and know exactly how to make it respond to their desires, even without knowing how to sight read music. Once in a while someone decides to try to learn by studying from watching video posts on the internet. This method can get you started but you'll probably find you have questions that don't get answered in the videos, and you might have to spend more time finding those answers than you are comfortable with. Working with a teacher works well for many because a personal relationship develops between teacher and student that helps nurture learning process with some praise for progress and helpful criticism about bad habits you may start to develop. I have found in my own experience that each and every way you may choose to learn, you can help your own development by spending additional time reading, taking notes, which helps the brain process what you are studying, even if you never refer back to those notes, and in general, learning to enjoy the whole sometimes frustrating, other times exhilarating process of growing and developing and accomplishing what you desire. The good news is you'll never be to old, or outgrow the enjoyment of these kind of accomplishments. Studying music is a social thing in that playing with others can greatly accelerate the learning process and increase the enjoyability factor at the same time. Often social factors (playing with others) can cause you to want to actually do the work required to improve. I hope this has been of some help to you.

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