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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Are you an introvert, or an extrovert?

August 16, 2013 at 4:52 PM

One of the questions that a reader asked this week was, Is viola the instrument of choice for introverts?

I suppose you could ask the same question of a second vs. first violinist: is the second violinist the introvert, the first violinist the extrovert? Or is it even more general than that? Are all violinists introverts? Extroverts? Considering all that practicing we do, alone in a room, we may lean a little toward introvert. Although, doesn't performing require us to be extroverts?

Or does it not make a lick of difference?

This "introvert" business seems to be the topic of the day among my musician friends, as I've been see them post all kinds of charts and articles along the lines of How to Live with Introverts, or Caring for Your Introvert, etc. I think it's time to revisit this vote!

Here is my hypothesis: that violists, second violinists, first violinists, soloists, teachers, etc. come in both varieties: introverts and extroverts. But this personality characteristic probably does affect a person's approach to learning, performing, working with others, publicizing one's self, etc.

Which are you, an introvert or extrovert? And how does this affect your music-making? (If you don't know, you can take this quiz) (P.S. We did this vote about four years ago, I'll let you know at the end if there's a big difference in how it comes out this time!)

From Maurice Gatewood
Posted on August 16, 2013 at 5:02 PM
I recently read Susan Cain's book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. This introvert found it quite validating! -M
From Albert Wrigglesworth
Posted on August 16, 2013 at 5:15 PM
Interesting that the vote is at 76% for Introvert (at time of my vote). I think many of us consider ourselves to be introverts in the sense that music is generally played more for self entertainment (satisfaction), and if someone else hears it and enjoys it...all the better. I think, generally speaking, that we are all introverts until put in a position of extrovert. Many aspire secretly to be in first position, but are generally happy where we are, and if we move up the latter and are noticed...that's OK.
I find music more enjoyable in a group setting where we are all "sharing" our music.
One man's opinion anyhow...
From Steve Reizes
Posted on August 16, 2013 at 5:23 PM
I've always said I am a shy-extrovert...
From Krista Moyer
Posted on August 16, 2013 at 5:30 PM
One class I participated in on such things stated that extroversion and introversion are inborn inclinations. However, based on one's environment, it is possible to act in opposition to one's natural state provided that one can "recharge" by returning to whichever state one is comfortable in afterwards. Therefore, as an introvert, I am capable of acting as an extrovert when necessary. However, based on how much energy that took, I need to spend a certain amount of time alone to find balance.
From Yixi Zhang
Posted on August 16, 2013 at 5:40 PM
I'm both. I contain multitudes :)
From Laurie Niles
Posted on August 16, 2013 at 5:49 PM
I feel like I'm both, too, though I came up as an "introvert" on the quiz. But I really like to be with people. I suppose that something like playing in orchestra is a way to be with people and communicate on a deep level, but without having to talk, share and confront in the traditional social mode.
From marjory lange
Posted on August 16, 2013 at 7:59 PM
What I was taught is that an introvert gets more energy from solitude (and is wearied by too many people around) while an extrovert gets more energy from other people (and is drained by solitude). If that's the definition, no question; I'm intro (which the quiz confirmed). I think practicing (which most of us do more of than anything else) is essentially an introverted activity. Performing can be 'ambivert,' I would say (love that word--'turns both ways').
From Mark Roberts
Posted on August 17, 2013 at 12:17 AM
first extrovert, second introvert, then what's viola?
From Rosita Hopper
Posted on August 17, 2013 at 10:59 AM
Violists are unclassifiable... we simply lead from the middle
From Emma Otto
Posted on August 17, 2013 at 12:02 PM
I am very introverted, although most people don't know it since I put a lot of effort into being social.

When I became the principal 2nd violinist of my youth symphony, it was a bit of a leadership challenge for me. But I learned to play the part well. I think that there are some natural disadvantages for both introverts and extroverts, but there's no rule that says we can't replace our weaknesses with skill.

As far as 1st violin vs. second - I enjoy them both equally, but would rather be principal 2nd violin than section 1st.

I found this vote particularly interesting. 80% introverts?!! Maybe we're musicians because we like to express our thoughts in music rather than words.

From Jenny Fischer
Posted on August 17, 2013 at 3:21 PM
I'm an introverted violinist/violist. I find it easy to listen to the ideas of colleagues and when I have my own ideas to share, I see it as an opportunity to be courageous and to grow in communication skills. If you are an extrovert, I encourage you to ask your introverted colleagues for their thoughts. It makes us feel valued.
From Royce Faina
Posted on August 17, 2013 at 4:15 PM
I actually fell smack dab in the middle as an E/I. I wonder where soloist would fall into compared to those in the orchestra?
I'm also curious where someone who is MPD or Fragmented Personality would fall? Good question to ask Sandy.
From Sacha Standen
Posted on August 18, 2013 at 7:58 AM
I have to agree with Krista. It all goes back to the nature/nurture debate; your 'true' or genetic nature is difficult to find, being so modified by your environment/conditioning. In this vote there's no third option (Both), but I'll bet that if there was most people would vote for that one!

It's also a question of how others see us: I may think I'm an introvert, but others might think I'm full of self-confidence and would classify me otherwise. I hate the idea of playing the violin in front of others, but when it comes to it, once I start I usually really enjoy it and everyone probably thinks I'm an extrovert (and probably a show-off)!

I recently attended a lecture about self-healing, where the speaker pointed out a number of personality categories and told us that virtually everyone classifies themselves as generally falling into one of these categories, but the point is that each of them is merely a convenient mask for the real nature that lies beneath.

I've known many people (and would consider myself amongst them) who have seemingly shifted from one character to another, sometimes a few times during the course of their lives, each time in response to circumstances. An example of that would be an introvert suddenly becoming full of himself as a means of convincing himself (and others) that he's really worth something. In my case I only started to gain any self-confidence when I got married.

We've all met people whom we find insupportable because they're so full of themselves; the question is, are these people really extroverts or are they introverts who have developed an extrovert character in order to validate themselves?

Apologies to viola players (I don't know if viola jokes are politically correct here) but I couldn't resist digging up this old chestnut:

Q. How do you make a viola player play tremolo?
A. Write a whole note and mark 'solo' above it.

From D.A. Smith
Posted on August 19, 2013 at 7:07 PM
Hi Sacha, here's another one for you:

Q: What's the definition of perfect pitch?
A: Throwing a viola into a dumpster without hitting the rim.


From Brent Hudson
Posted on August 19, 2013 at 8:04 PM
Well. perhaps more to the point is the fact that most violinists seem to be who they are WITH CONVICTION -- quite strong personalities whether intro- or extroverted. Studies have shown that introvert 2nd language learners produce conversation in the target language just as quickly and correctly as extroverts, even though they may feel shyer about it. Presumably it's similar with musicians -- the outcome is about the same . . .
From Charlie Gibbs
Posted on August 20, 2013 at 6:50 PM
I put myself down as an introvert (we're up to 81% now), and that's usually true. But you'd never guess it if you saw me take a break in a bluegrass jam - I fiddle my buns off, wrong notes be damned. This is all the more amazing when you consider that in any other activity I'm very reluctant to try anything in front of other people unless I know I can do it absolutely perfectly.

Where this puts me when I pick up my viola is even less certain. But someone once said that violists can't play 32nd notes - so to prove him wrong, I played one.

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