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Fit as a fiddle: Free strings classes offered for adults, children at local church
December 6, 2019

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SHENANDOAH JUNCTION -- "'A lot of people believe the brain isn't very plastic after puberty. In fact, the brain maintains its ability to change. Is it as easy to learn something when you're 65 as it is at 5? No. But can it be done? Yes,'" University of California Irvine neuroscientist Norman Weinberger was quoted as saying in National Public Radio's article, "Never Too Late To Learn An Instrument."

Although much evidence has been gathered over the past couple of decades supporting the fact that adults can, in fact, learn how to play a new instrument, many people are still hesitant about making the plunge and pursuing their dream. Violinist Hector Zavala, of Charles Town, has set up a new program this semester, to encourage adults to learn how to play a stringed instrument.

Formerly a public school music teacher, Zavala is the music director at Fellowship Bible Church in Shenandoah Junction, and said he came up with the idea to hold free classes for adults on Tuesday mornings after reading the book, "The Late Starter." Zavala connected the thoughts he took away from the book with a program idea, based on a similar program he had already founded. In 2009, Zavala founded a youth orchestra at his church, which meets on Tuesday nights and is open to new students.

"The Suzuki method suggests to teach the parents of students, so they can practice with their kids at home. Those are the ideas that led me to establishing a class for adults," Zavala said. "The adult class right now is composed of some parents and grandparents of the children who are currently in the youth orchestra, and some retired adults who want to learn an instrument.

"They are very excited, and so I get very excited to see that they want to do it," Zavala said, mentioning that after seeing the success of the adult program over the last few months, he could tell it was time to open it up to the community.

"It's so fun to see adults be nervous to start a new adventure and get ready to come back to school -- feeling that nervousness, but fun, at the same time," Zavala said, mentioning students are expected to purchase their own music and provide their own instruments in playing condition.

Those interested in learning more about the youth orchestra or adult program can check it out at the two groups' combined Christmas concert at the church, on December 17 at 7 p.m.

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