V.com weekend vote: Are you playing more than you listen to violin music, or listening more than you play?

December 5, 2020, 12:54 PM · At one point in the past, I was playing so many rehearsals, gigs, etc. that I barely had time to listen to violin-related music. In fact, I reached a point of saturation, where I did not want to listen to violin or classical music during my "off" time. If I turned on the music in the car or on my phone, I would listen to something else entirely, like pop music.

This can happen to a busy student, a busy amateur, a busy teacher, or just someone who is practicing a lot. It reaches a point where it feels like there is just not enough time or bandwidth left to passively listen to classical music.

These days, however, the pandemic has turned that upside down for a lot of people, including me. After nine months without outside performances, rehearsals and other playing, I find that I'm longing to hear the symphonic music that I love so much. I'm much more inclined to listen to recordings of orchestra music.

listen and play

And after being a player for so long, it's quite interesting to listen passively, as someone outside the orchestra. Who knew how the woodwind part works here? Or that the French horns have such a lovely harmony part there? It's not that I don't hear these things when I'm inside the orchestra, but I certainly hear them differently when I back away from playing my individual part, stop furiously counting, and no longer have to worry about fingerings and bowings. I can just listen.

Are you finding that you are listening more than you are playing these days? Or are you playing more than you listen? Or maybe you spend equal time on both? Has isolation or other aspects of the pandemic changed the way that you hear music? Changed your playing habits? Changed your perspective? Please participate in the vote and then share your thoughts in the comments section.


December 6, 2020 at 03:00 AM · Listening more than I play, but the main reason is unrelated to the pandemic. (Namely, whiplash after a car accident, which forced me to stop playing completely for more than two months and is still limiting me to about an hour a week of playing time.)

December 6, 2020 at 03:18 AM · Sorry to hear that Andrew. Hope it heals soon.

I'm playing far more than listening. My current Covid isolation project is to play through all the first violin parts of Haydn's top 25 or so quartets [I already did Mozart's]. For that I listen first and then play through, working on the bits that are a challenge. With that and normal practice, I'd say I'm playing at least 5X more than listening.

Next up Beethoven. Not sure what after that....

December 6, 2020 at 08:21 AM · Most of my 'violin music' listening is actually chamber music. I much prefer that to most of the concerto repertoire.

December 6, 2020 at 09:39 AM · Same here!

December 6, 2020 at 02:18 PM · I've been playing (mostly viola) pretty consistently during the pandemic. I've had play dates on patios in the summer and now online playing through Jamulus. I've been reading the New York Times online which offers many opportunities to listen to classical music that I don't usually run into. I'm probably listening more that I used to before the pandemic. I participated in the Nathan Cole Violympics which was very helpful to my practice routine during the summer. So pretty even between playing and listening, happy to say.

December 6, 2020 at 02:20 PM · To be honest, my listening to classical music has shrunk dramatically during lockdown - I suppose because of feeling mildly depressed. I keep up the practice, though.

December 6, 2020 at 03:37 PM · Everything....from opera..yes The art of singing.. Symphonic... Solo any instrument to pop rock ... from zero years to today's composers....anything. It helps when "you are turning the phrase"....

December 6, 2020 at 10:05 PM · Not sure, but I certainly enjoy playing a lot more than listening

December 8, 2020 at 04:10 PM · My husband, who is working at home during the pandemic, has the radio or music recordings playing nearly all the time. I'm still taking lessons so I practice every day. I sometimes walk with one of my SQ partners and we've just started talking about playing together again, outside with social distancing, so I'm gearing up to practice repertoire again. I need that switch from practicing nearly only technique.

December 12, 2020 at 03:24 AM · With me, I'd estimate that the two are about equal. I practice and play daily -- up to 3 hours max; but I hadn't really thought much about how much I listen. I have classical music on YouTube frequently while I work -- not all the time; so I'm guessing that I listen each day about as much as I play. On Saturdays, while I'm doing indoor chores, I know I listen more than I do most other days. Now, with winter coming on, I spend more time indoors.

The pandemic hasn't changed my playing habits or the way I hear music. I'm not in the music business, no longer a student, and I'm not a teacher -- plus I don't plan any musical get-togethers in winter. The change of seasons, not the pandemic, has more influence on my listening. I lean more toward older music -- Vivaldi, Corelli, Bach -- in winter. Somehow I connect their music with being indoors in winter; whereas Beethoven and Brahms feel more outdoor-ish to me.

About pop music: I hear it at the gym; and I like most of it -- although I rarely know who the artists are or what the song titles are. One game I play with it is to see how fast I can identify the key of each song. I have so-called perfect pitch, so I'm very adept at this.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Anne Cole Violin Maker
Anne Cole Violin Maker

Violinist.com Shopping Guide
Violinist.com Shopping Guide

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop



Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine