Starting All Over Again – Workshops for Adults

by Sarah Kilcoyne

When I was sixteen years old, I decided to learn to play the violin. It had been a long-standing ambition of mine, but already having bought their over-earnest daughter a guitar and a piano (and paying for the subsequent lessons), my parents weren’t too enthusiastic about it. So, I ultimately decided to take matters into my own hands, and signed up for a local beginners group course. ‘Violin for Beginners’, with the esteemed traditional Irish musician Kathleen Nesbitt.

I can still remember the nervous excitement before the first class, leafing through my brand-new instruction booklet, inhaling that sweet-sickly new-book smell from between the pages, twanging the tightly-wound strings of my newly borrowed fiddle.

When the evening finally arrived, I bounded breathlessly into ‘Workshop Room 1’, eager as hipster in a used-sweater store, ready to make sweet sweet music – only to be met by the gaze of my new teacher; and a bunch of five-year olds.

It took only four weeks of screeching and squawking that misfortunate violin in the midst of those little kids (who were better than me), before I hung up the bow. Needless to say, it wasn’t a very encouraging environment. I didn’t join another extra-curricular class again.


“When the evening finally arrived, I bounded breathlessly into ‘Workshop Room 1’, eager as hipster in a used-sweater store”

Until now, that is. In June of this year, having temporarily obliterated the memory of that humiliating violin workshop – I signed up for a digital painting workshop. Having trained in Fine Arts myself, I was curious to learn about this new-fangled form of painting, that was becoming so popular.

Aside from wanting to learn, I was also curious to see how it would feel to take an extra-curricular class as an adult. At 27, I do consider myself an adult now – I buy my own washing powder, I’ve browsed Amazon for curtains, last weekend I discussed dishwashers with my boyfriend. It doesn’t get more grown-up than that.

As I approached the workshop space on the first evening, I could feel the anxiety building, the beads of sweat forming on my forehead (nothing to do with the 25-degree summer evening) – what would the other workshop attendees be like? Would I be the only one without any experience? Would they be better than me? Would the class be competitive? Because I’m an adult, should I already know everything??


I was very pleasantly surprised. What I found in the workshop was a group of like-minded, enthusiastic young adults, eager to learn, and ready to make friends. Memories of screeching violins and judgmental five-year-olds quickly faded into oblivion. It was wholly refreshing, to meet a class comprised of people from various countries and walks of life, all compatible because of their desire to learn digital painting. Some were painting as a hobby, some needed it to enhance their job-skills, and other were just curious, like me.

This experience left me eager to learn more! For some reason, the notion of wanting to learn as an adult, the ‘fear’ of being a beginner, had conceived a definite anxiety in my mind.

I couldn’t be more happy that I took the plunge – I’m left with a set of new creative skills, ambition to learn more, and new friends to share artistic notes and a beer with.


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