V.com weekend vote: Has playing the violin (or other instrument) helped or hurt your personal relationships?

July 17, 2022, 4:56 PM · We talk a lot about how playing an instrument improves a person's brainpower, as it's one of few activities that use a combination of math, reading, communication, physical coordination, and other skills.

But we don't always talk about how playing an instrument can change a person's social life, for better or for worse.

friends playing violin

Certainly one can meet a lot of friends as a result of playing an instrument - the people who play music with you, the other students in your studio, people who happen to go to the same music camp, etc.

Also the sense of accomplishment might improve your confidence, which helps with meeting people and making new friends.

On the down side, if you are spending hours alone in a practice room, you might be missing out on some social opportunities. The time commitment to go to lessons, practice and perform can make it hard to socialize.

When it comes to professional musicians, the odd hours and concert schedule might make it difficult to do those "normal" things like go on the family Fourth of July picnic (sorry, I have to play a concert!) or have a normal Christmas celebration (I have a gig!) or be available for other social gatherings.

There may be new friends you make, simply because they love classical music and want to know someone who plays it. On the other hand, there may be other people that simply can't relate.

When it comes to those living around you, sometimes neighbors and family members enjoy having music close by -- others don't want to hear the sound of practicing, and that can cause conflict.

How has it been with you? Has playing an instrument directly helped with your relationships, or has it had a direct affect that has been negative? A little of both? In what ways? Please participate in the vote and then share your experiences in the comments.


Replies

July 18, 2022 at 12:44 AM · I have to choose between "made a lot of friends" and "Made some new friends, lost some social opportunities", and I can't. I've only made SOME new friends, but my loss of social opportunities is not a result of playing my instruments, but of being a snob in my musical tastes.

July 18, 2022 at 01:11 AM · It can go either way. Practicing, even most of the time spent in orchestra rehearsal, is a solitary activity. People really don't understand it when you place practice time or a rehearsal, or accepting a playing job, as first priority, over family events.

I had a violinist colleague (1st rank) who made it a personal policy to do all of her off-work socializing with Non-musicians.

Apocryphal story (?):

Audience member after a violin concerto; "I would give my life to be able to play like you"

Famous soloist; "I did"

July 18, 2022 at 03:12 AM · Going all the way back to high school, I would say that just about all of the friends that I have ever had I have known either through music or through my chosen profession (chemistry). I just joined a little local club that reads string quartets and it's wonderful, the people are so lovely. And even the no-audition community orchestra is fun because the people are so nice. Through these groups I've met people with whom I can play weddings, etc. The playing and rehearsing is interspersed with socializing and the music crowd is so different from the chemistry crowd although there are a few work friends who overlap into my music world. The goals of each group are quite different.

July 18, 2022 at 01:34 PM · Since reconnecting with my violin after a multi-decades long hiatus, I've made several really close friends via the amateur ensembles I'm in. I value these individuals more than I can possibly express. And my family is beyond supportive. They say I always seem happier after a quartet or practice session.

July 18, 2022 at 02:32 PM · All these stories you hear about science research students not seeing anyone except their research supervisor every two weeks are true. Thank goodness for orchestra

July 18, 2022 at 03:45 PM · As an introvert, I love the time spent in the studio alone with my violin. Also, as an introvert, I have a very small social circle and opening my studio to a few students and their parents has widened the circle as has assisting with the local Youth Orchestral program.

July 18, 2022 at 05:23 PM · I don't regret putting off my intensive practicing for about 18 years to help raise our 3 children and keep a full time job to provide for them. Now that they are pretty much on their own, I've ramped up my practicing again, much to my wife's annoyance. She's jealous of my "wooden girlfriend", as she calls it! :)

July 18, 2022 at 06:05 PM · It definitely hasn’t hurt my personal relationships. I don't crave social life, although that's not the same thing as being anti-social - there's quite a difference. So the hours alone in a practice room from an early age didn't make me feel deprived.

In high school, I found practice venues after hours that had a lot of reverb - washrooms, locker rooms, gym floors. Peer reaction ranged from curiosity to amusement to mild derision - you know how some kids can be at times. But no strained relationships.

Later, as a music performance major, I teamed up with a few fellow orchestra members to do some small chamber playing. I found that these small, tight-knit ensembles suited my personality better than orchestra did. So I abandoned my childhood ambition to become a symphony player.

Early evening practice sessions in the garage have opened up some unexpected and welcome avenues. These sessions are my way of sharing the music with audiences I don't actually see - that is, till they tell me later on that they hang around outside or sit on their porches to listen. One evening, some years back, I had just finished reviewing Mazas Op. 36, No. 4, when a fellow knocked on the door. It was a neighbor's son, who was visiting his parents across the street. It turned out that he was a skilled pianist. He invited me to team up with him for some violin/piano duets. He described the Mazas tune as "very pretty" and correctly deduced that I was doing "some studies."

BTW, check out this rendition of the etude by v.com member Daniel Broniatowski:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUVqGkjd7VM

July 18, 2022 at 06:20 PM · I have friends who are musicians, and friends who simply have no idea what being a musician means (some come to hear me play, even so).

So apart from missing some social events with my non-musician friends, my life isn't affected. In some ways the compartmentalization is quirky fun.

July 18, 2022 at 10:17 PM · Well, since I met my husband eight days after moving to San Antonio, and never in a million years would I have moved to San Antonio had I not won a job in the symphony…..I have to say it’s a clear win (and our three children agree).

July 21, 2022 at 01:10 AM · It's been decidedly mixed for me. I've found instant community in new places through music, but musical commitments do force me to miss other things quite often. For most of my adult life, my social circles have been divided into musicians and non-musicians, with most of the musicians being quite serious musicians and most of the non-musicians rarely if ever attending concerts. Very few of my friends from one circle ever meet any of my friends from the other circle.

This doesn't mean my friendships with other musicians are limited to music: for a while, I played in a community orchestra where the viola section also became a pub trivia team. It's just that my musician friends and non-musician friends never seem to meet each other.

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