V.com weekend vote: Besides the violin, with what other instruments have you been reasonably proficient?

April 28, 2017, 3:56 PM · People who seek to play the violin tend to be music-lovers, so it's not surprising that some violinists are also proficient in other instruments.


I'm curious about which instruments, besides the violin, that violinists tend to play. Is it another stringed instrument, such as the viola or guitar? Or is it the piano? Or something a little more outside the family, such as the trumpet?

As for me, I've dabbled with the flute, mandolin and piano, but the only one I'd say I was moderately proficient in is piano. With that instrument, I can play what I know, but I don't have much depth when it comes to being able to sit down and read things with ease.

How about you? Are you strictly a violinist, or do you have a second instrument? Or more than one? If you are proficient in a number of instruments in different categories, please just choose the one that you feel most proficient in, then describe the others in the comments below.


April 28, 2017 at 09:03 PM · I am also proficient on piano, flute and oboe.

April 28, 2017 at 09:07 PM · I didn't stray far from the violin: viola, and soprano and tenor recorders. My first instrument, probably a matter of weeks or months prior to starting the violin at age 9, was the autoharp. I think I'd enjoy owning an autoharp.

April 28, 2017 at 10:12 PM · viola,violin and cello. Dabbled with daGamba.

April 28, 2017 at 10:25 PM · Guitar and banjo. Started taking violin lessons because I love country/bluegrass fiddling

April 28, 2017 at 10:47 PM · In the last five years, I've learned to play the bagpipes. I learned piano as a young adult, and have played a little guitar. The violin has been my latest venture for the last four years. Challenging!

April 29, 2017 at 12:10 AM · Violin, trombone, tuba, soprano sax. Dabbled with mandolin, trumpet.

April 29, 2017 at 12:30 AM · Started piano as a preschooler. Took up violin three years later. Now play piano just as well as violin. Tried the flute because I had to, hated it and quit. Became hugely interested in the viola 1 1/2 years ago and hope to add it to my instrument repertoire. I hope to play all three equally well and almost on an equal basis.

April 29, 2017 at 12:33 AM · Piano. Jazz piano, that is.

April 29, 2017 at 12:59 AM · Only proficient in violin and viola, but I can play bass somewhat well.

April 29, 2017 at 02:33 AM · Viola, Cello, Bass, and some piano.

April 29, 2017 at 02:50 AM · Piano, as a child. Viola, after learning violin. Most recently proficient on mountain dulcimer!

April 29, 2017 at 02:56 AM · Harp became my third instrument after violin and viola were thoroughly learned at Eastman School of Music. I began at age 37 in Seattle on a Troubadour harp, privately, with a former Principal Harpist of our Symphony here, and soon graduated to a pedal harp of 47 strings and became professional, playing for weddings, parties, and even for foreign royalty who came through Seattle occasionally. After the many years with violin since age 3 and a half, harp was not as difficult as if harp had been my first instrument to learn. I would encourage any musician to try this instrument to be able to finally play with eight of the ten fingers, for the great pleasure of more full sound and additional income if you persevere and have patience without needing an accompanist at all. For fifteen years I alternated violin and harp music for the holiday brunches of a country club here. No regrets.

April 29, 2017 at 03:12 AM · I just bought a 5-string violin today - maybe that will become my second instrument!

I'd love to learn viola, but the left wrist and pinky problems I have on violin are only worse on the bigger viola.

April 29, 2017 at 05:21 AM · First instrument learnt was soprano recorder. Then trumpet and bugle in school and marching band. Some sneare drums in music camps and then just dabbled with guitar and piano. Started violin a year and a half ago and I am loving it! I own a viola but playing it like a violin...

April 29, 2017 at 06:05 AM · I play/teach the violin, 'cello, and mandolin. I adore the penny whistle and carry a few in my violin case.

I attempt viola, I even tried changing to viola in college, to no avail.

April 29, 2017 at 06:05 AM · Timpani. Percussion. Drums.

April 29, 2017 at 07:14 AM · Piano

April 29, 2017 at 08:59 AM · Bagpipes - now that deserves its own category!

April 29, 2017 at 10:16 AM · I played guitar first then learned mandolin then violin . I now play all professionally however most of my work is with fiddle.

April 29, 2017 at 11:32 AM · Piano was my first instrument, starting at age 7; so I voted piano. I could read treble and bass and play simple tunes before the violin muse got hold of me soon afterward. As a performance major, I also had to have 2 years of piano as a minor. Thanks to basic preadolescent training, I advanced quite easily and worked my way up to Beethoven's "Für Elise."

Not sure I could play the piece now -- haven't sat down at a piano for a long time and have never owned one. Not sure how proficient you could rate me, because things like pedal use, clef changes within a staff, and L/R-hand crossovers are quite beyond me.

April 29, 2017 at 11:46 AM · I first picked up the violin when I was 8 years old. Part of the magic for me was the lack of keys or frets, meaning you could either take pride in landing just right on a note, or cringe when you missed one. When I decided to play trombone several years later, largely because of peer pressure, I enjoyed the similarity to the violin. No keys and no valves. You either hit your note or you did not. And, as a teenage boy, an instrument with a spit valve was gold.

I tried to play piano for a short time, but never fell in love. Later, I spent many years trying to get comfortable with the guitar, but played it more like a violin. After 47 years of denying my original calling, I went back to my fiddling roots. In late 2015, I took my two best violins into a luthier for new hair, new strings, new cases, and brought them back to life. Although I took a 47 year break, I found a great teacher and have rediscovered the joy of just playing my violins for pleasure.

April 29, 2017 at 12:10 PM · I play the viola too, but this question reminds me a story with Dorati:

while he made the recordings of all Haydn Symphonies with Philharmonia Hungarica, once he asked the stage manager - Mr. B., please tell me, you are already so many years here as stage manager, didn't you had the time and courage to learn an instrument? Maestro, - he answered - I am really sorry, I am absolutely not talented for that, but you know, I could try to conduct!

He didn't answer, but soon after the orchestra had a recording session somewhere in Holland, Dorati didn't find his glasses and he asked the stage manager to drive back to his hotel quite far away, to get it. He came back without the glasses, and Dorati reached to his pocket and said: ah, here it is!

April 29, 2017 at 12:13 PM · voice!

April 29, 2017 at 03:50 PM · Started violin and piano at the age of 6 (typical for a child raised by Asian parents), the latter stopped after 5 years of dissatisfying progress. Also learnt the clarinet for 4 years before middle school, and still remember the chromatic fingering of about 2 1/2 octaves from bottom E3 (concert pitch D3).

At 14, began playing viola in youth orchestra alongside with violin for 6 solid years and, at present, as my primary instrument. Took the violin out of the case mostly for teaching, if not playing through Bach's Chaconne. (My friends criticised that my violin playing sounds so "viola" now - why, and why not?)

Took two years of percussion classes that qualified me to play the marimba and snare drum (each at ABRSM G8 standard) and adapt to symphonic repertoire reasonably well, esp. those already familiarized myself with playing violin/viola.

Recently took up viola da gamba and still coping with the 4th/3rd intervals, upright manner and whatnot. Lot's of fun practising it, still, and envision myself to keep playing that alongside with viola.

April 29, 2017 at 09:52 PM · Played the viola off and on alongside the violin for the last 10 years. Recently I've been playing it more frequently to the point that it's becoming my primary instrument.

April 30, 2017 at 01:22 AM · After playing violin starting at age 9, in college and after I got more interested in playing in a garage band and later in various folk scenes. Got reasonably good at guitar (folk, rock and classical), mandolin and banjo while still playing some celtic fiddle plus chamber music but eventually figured out that with the amount of practice time I had available when working at a full-time job and being a parent, I could either choose to be mediocre at a lot of instruments or possibly really good at one, so I returned to the violin. Now I concentrate on violin (Scottish fiddle mostly) and only pull the others out occasionally. Also recently inherited a viola and have been having fun with it, although reading the alto clef is still like speaking a foreign language!

April 30, 2017 at 11:57 AM · I double on viola and have studied piano. If I were to learn another instrument now it would probably be the oboe: I began as a music education major (later switched to music theory and composition and received my BMus in that area) and took the upper woodwinds class; I did well with the oboe and the professor suggested that I study it at some point.

April 30, 2017 at 01:12 PM · Voice (but it seems v.com doesn't consider it to be an instrument).

April 30, 2017 at 01:33 PM · Laurie could only place 5 choices so it would fall under none of the above.

April 30, 2017 at 04:47 PM · Voice and Middle East Drum.

May 1, 2017 at 02:57 PM · I am a Violist(Viola player) by profession. I also play violin, organ, piano, and mandolin. I teach Violin, Viola, and Cello, for those I am best at.

May 1, 2017 at 03:27 PM · when I was 6 years old I had my first solfège classes with the other kids, and the recorder was tightly integrated with learning the notes. so after a year all kids could play the recorder. I always liked it and still play some simple tunes on it just for fun.

May 1, 2017 at 03:50 PM · My first instrument was trumpet which I learned to play pretty well.At the time my school didn't have the option to learn violin.

Later I bought a very good programmable synthesizer,so I learned both how to play keys and how to program music synths and computers.I would spend hours every day until I became proficient. I transferred this skill set to real pianos.

About the time I learned trumpet I had an acoustic guitar which burned in a house fire. The last 10 years I have learned to play various guitars both electric and acoustic in different tunings.

Two years ago I bought a bouzouki and have learned to play it. In addition I have a uke tuned in D, bass guitar, assorted harmonicas and my violins. I also sing.

Violin is my most recent undertaking. So far I love it!!!!!

May 2, 2017 at 04:02 AM · I am embarrassed to say that I have lost the ability to play violin for the time being. I am seriously into the viola and only have the time to keep up one of them. But I just substitututed 'viola' everywhere the question mentioned 'violin'!

May 2, 2017 at 01:44 PM · After reading all these inputs I am amazed that anyone can play more than one instrument really well. It takes a lifetime to play an instrument beautifully. My first violin teacher admonished me about this. I had taught myself piano around 11 years old by using my sisters books from her lessons. She told our mother that the piano belonged to HER, so I was to leave it alone.

Mother gave me her violin that was in the attic. I also tried flute and learned it well enough to give the neighbors a headache (those higher notes are so easy). My high school band leader gave me the school's clarinet so I could march in the band and play at the football games. I bought a book and taught myself how to play it.

That's when my violin teacher said: "ENOUGH. You will be a jack of all trades master of none." So put those toys away and stayed with the violin, not fiddle. Hurts my ears.....that fiddle noise.

May 2, 2017 at 05:43 PM · I voted brass, because my first instrument was the cornet, which I started at age 8 and played right up through high school. The loss of our band teacher (he was hit by a train on the way to a concert we were to play) was a major factor leading to my Great Musical Hiatus, which lasted over 25 years. At that point I picked up a guitar, and by a series of accidents went from there to mandolin, then violin, and finally viola. The latter is now my primary instrument, although I also play violin in a quartet and fiddle in bluegrass jams.

May 2, 2017 at 07:50 PM · As many kids I started playing the recorder, but unlike many I kept playing it for many years, so I became quite advanced. I finally stopped playing the recorder in my late teens (when my teacher died). Violin is my main instrument now. I also play the viola and a bit of piano. And I sing.

May 3, 2017 at 01:04 PM · I would have put Voice except that the top half of my vocal range has now gone, perhaps with age. In my late teens I tried going over to viola (more scope for quartet and orchestral playing - there weren't many violists around then). When I started playing again after a decades-long gap, I decided that I did not want to play viola and decided firmly to go back to the violin.

May 3, 2017 at 09:40 PM · More keyboarders than viola players! Is this correct, or are some people too cowardly to confess? Well, I'm proud to say, somehow or other I found the courage!

I confess also to being reasonably dilettante on piano/organ.

Laurie, you say you can play what you know on the piano? That means you must either be unspeakably ignorant, not knowing even one fast piano piece or movement by Liszt, or you must be more than moderately proficient. Come on, own up, you're brilliant, aren't you!

May 5, 2017 at 03:05 AM · Well, I know pretty much one Chopin waltz, then my ability drops precipitously to Burgmüller pieces and extremely simple Suzuki accompaniment.

May 5, 2017 at 10:45 AM · Can you play the Chopin waltz within the minute?

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