For yourself or others?

November 26, 2009 at 01:44 AM ·

Did you start playing violin for yourself or others?

I'm asking this because I know some people that believe that you play violin only for other people and should play whatever those people want you to play.

I like to play for myself, and I play what I want, when I want.  I started playing because the music fascinated me, not others.  So I'm just looking for some thoughts on this topic.


Hanna (:

Replies (26)

November 26, 2009 at 03:21 AM ·

I asked for a violin because the soloists and section players I saw at orchestra concerts looked pretty neat.  It was a real disappointment to find in my eighth-size outfit that the bow was only made from wood and not the shiny gold I'd been admiring on the other side of the footlights. 

Now, of course, a pure 24Kt stick could cost less than some of the good French pernambuco models.

November 26, 2009 at 03:34 AM ·

I was inspired to play the violin after watching Itzhak Perlman on TV back when I was 3, and then I started to play at 5.  For several years, it was but a "hobby," but I discovered that the music really meant a lot to me, and was what I wanted my life to be immersed in, and now I'm aspiring to be a professional.

So far, it's been almost undisputed as my first and foremost area of interest, and music is and always has been my first love.  If I am ever to lose this sense of resolve, I would lose much of my life along with it.

Of course, I enjoy playing for others, but more enjoy playing with others.  Nothing brings me more joy in life than woodshedding Sibelius, Berlioz, Brahms, and the like in a claustrophobic, windowless practice room save an intimate string quartet or piano trio rehearsal.

November 26, 2009 at 03:37 AM ·

I have just started to learn to play and it was something I started for myself .... but maybe in time , practice it maybe something I could share or give back to others but for now it is for me , it is my haven , a safe place in a very hard time in my life ,,,


November 26, 2009 at 03:59 AM ·


Well of course at first I started violin because I love the sound. I enjoy a lot when I play violin, anywhere, anytime even if I'm alone. However, I want to share the joy to my audiences, I love visiting my friends and play for them. Even when I teach (in a music school) I always come out to the showroom and play a few tunes for the walk in customers (well, partially for advertisement!).

November 26, 2009 at 04:02 AM ·

In elementary school, I had always wanted to play the saxophone.  Then, they did the two demos for the fifth graders- band instruments and strings.  I remembered they played the "Jaws" theme on the cello and I honestly don't remember if there was a violin there, but there must have been since that's what I chose, huh?  ANYWAY, I chose the violin but I don't exactly remember the thought process behind it.  The cello didn't appeal to my but I think I would be much more suited to it.

I did it to be like my sister because she played flute and I greatly admire my sister.  My parents are just happy for me.

It must have stuck because I'm going to be a music major in college!!!!!!!

November 26, 2009 at 05:07 AM ·

Definitivly for myself first because I'm the type of person who wants to sound good before playing in public (I believe that competence will eliminate stage fright. Well I try to apply this be sure it's not perfect...) also because there are no musicians around me so I'm always the only one all excited about music (except when I'm here!).   I needed a refuge, something special for me since no one really cares about such things if you don't do them for yourself.   It's true, you have to create your hapiness in life...  It's not good to wait after others.


November 26, 2009 at 02:39 PM ·

For myself, i always liked classical music beacuse my mother likes it too.At first, she wanted me to play the piano,but i just like listening to it. but a few years later,i picked up the violin because of Debussy's Beau Soir that inspired me,that a violin's sound can be very beautiful and enchanting. at none of my family suspected this at all.

November 26, 2009 at 04:00 PM ·


For myself, but I also wanted to bring the happiness I got from listening to musicians to others in a more direct way. 

November 26, 2009 at 05:07 PM ·

For myself!

My paternal grandpa gave me a little violin for my 4th birthday and I played "at it" every day for the next 6 months, imitating my father who was an amateur violinist who had played since childhood and had resumed lessons, practiced daily, and played chamber music with others. So I had a good role model to follow. But the sounds I made were tough on the neighbors and Mom and Dad  who finally sent me to weekly violin lessons starting when I was 4-1/2.

A big inspiration occurred later that same year when Dad and I went to see the first run of the Heifetz* movie "They Shall Have Music."  Heifetz immediately became my hero but I was not to see him in live performance for another 12 years, in 1951, although I recall hearing many of his live radio broadcasts after 1940 (including the one when he broke a string) and owning a few 78rpm records of his playing (only his). By the time I saw Heifetz I was also a cellist, an instrument I had started for my father because he needed me in a string quartet less than 2 weeks later. It worked, much to my surprise as much as anyone's. And I've continued to play both instruments, almost daily for the 60 years since then.

*Some of the violin-playing scenes from the movie were still fresh in my memory when I first saw it again on TV (at 2 am) 30 years later.


November 27, 2009 at 12:39 AM ·

Thanks to all you guys for relpying!  I love reading all your stories of why you started the violin.


November 27, 2009 at 05:34 AM ·

When I was in junior high school, a friend showed me his prize; a violin he kept under his bed. He was not allowed to let me touch it (I do not know if it was valuable, but to him and his family, it was).
I pestered my mom, and she relented and bought me an inexpensive guitar..... not quite the same.

I put the desire on the shelf for decades, but decided in my 50s to try again. I now play for myself and my grandson, who also has a violin (grandpa's gift, of course). I sometimes wish I would have started much younger, but I don't think I had the dedication to become a professional; although I love the music, I do not think I would like it as much as a career as I do when I simply play for fun.

November 27, 2009 at 09:07 PM ·


At 47 yo, I'm too old to give a damn about doing things for other people, so I definitely started playing for myself.

What really put the bug in me as they say was a trip to Greece that my (formerly non-Greek!) husband and I took in 2006. Both my mom and dad are of Greek heritage--mom born here, dad born in the Peloponnese region--Mani if anyone is familiar with the country.

Anyway, my dad lives there and towards the end of our trip, he threw us a surprise party at his friends outdoor restaurant with all the "locals" in attendance. Anyway, shortly after we had eaten (the first round of food anyway ;-)), a friend of his got out his bouzouki, hooked it up to an amp, and started to play and sing some relatively traditional greek songs. At that point, everyone started joining it whether by singing or dancing all of the wonderful greek dances (me and my non-Greek husband too!!) and so went the rest of the evening until about out 3 a.m. It was one of the best times I have EVER had.

My point is that before that experience, I always thought that unless you were going to "get somewhere," it was pointless to start to learn to play an instrument as an adult. In fact, it's actually sad that you really don't see much of that type think over here other than at concerts and such.

But when I saw how natural a part of the culture music was to everyone over there and how absolutely logical it was that someone would have their instrument with them and just start to play--regardless of whether or not he/she was a virtuoso--I started thinking how nice it would be to be able to learn to play and at some point be a part of something so "cool."  Hope I've progressed enough and am brave enough to take my violin with me next time.



November 28, 2009 at 12:43 AM ·

Phil...that is an awesome story, and one of the best 'reasons' to want to learn and play an instrument that I have heard in a long time.

November 28, 2009 at 03:23 AM ·

I was a weird little nerdy 3-year old obsessed with music. At that point I wanted to be a conductor, if I remember correctly, and the adults in my life rather gently told me that one has to learn an instrument first. For some reason I decided on the harp. The harp teacher in town advised that it's a good idea to start on the piano first. I was two feet tall and couldn't reach the pedals. At that point someone handed me a tiny little kid-sized violin and I was like "oh, ok, this is cool." So music was my own fanatical choice, the violin came to me by chance.

LOVE Philanthi's story above btw. I have a double life in music as a classical player and folk musician (various Eastern European styles.) A few weeks ago I was at a folk dance festival, someone handed me a viola, and off I went into my entire Balkan/Bohemian repertoire, backed up by what was left of the band.......marvelous fun.

November 29, 2009 at 01:21 AM ·

Thanks all!

Mara, I too love the music from that part of the world--greek, turkish, armenian, etc. I recently found a violin songbook "The Greek Fiddler" that has easy violin parts and am planning to work through in conjunction with my lessons. In addition, I have started listening more to greek violin music. I never realized that the violin featured so prominently in Greek music.

In that vein, a superb violinist you might want to check out is Samvel Yervinyan ( A former child prodigy, he is a classically trained Armenian violinist who has toured as a featured soloist with Yanni (videos on you tube).  He is amazing. I am waiting for his new CD to come out.



November 29, 2009 at 03:53 AM ·

Yes he's really good!  These  american greek Jazz musics are amazingv and lively!!!


November 29, 2009 at 12:48 PM ·

For myself. I'm an adult learner and couldn't care less what anyone else thinks about it. I fell in love with the violin when I was a kid, but my parents couldn't afford music lessons...not to mention a decent violin. Now I do what I want, including indulging my desire to learn the most awesome instrument ever created.

December 1, 2009 at 12:17 AM ·

My 4th grade recorder teacher thought I'd make a good trombone player. And it seemed like the band members had more fun than the orchestra players, and tended to sound better right away. But my mom said "how about the violin."

I said, how about the trumpet.

How about the violin?

How about the cello?

How about the violin?

How about the drums? (why not go for broke)

How about the violin? 

So I guess it was the violin. A pretty good choice, but the band might've been pretty fun too. :) 

December 1, 2009 at 01:21 PM ·

When I was in the 2nd grade Mrs Norman was the local piano teacher. I had to follow my sister to lessons after school. So, Mom decided I should just play as well. I didn't like it but I did get to learn enough music theory and appreciation that I got the bug.

When I was in the 4th grade I wanted to be in band and the trumpet it was. I really wanted to be a great trumpet player and I practiced hard and long. Eventually I even went to a University to play trumpet, albeit not on scholarship. It was there that I came to realize that I was not going to make it to a Major Orchestra doing anything but pushing a broom. I was pretty much crushed.

However, years later when my son took up the trumpet I found we had a common ground in music.  I was thankful that I had spent the time, though the payoff was completely different it was very rewarding.  We played together in community band, in church, and other functions. Band trips, football games and competitions were all the better when he was in high school.

I have found that as I get older I need to play an instrument, just for me.  I want to learn to play the violin because I want to hear it sing. I want to make something that does not need a monetary payoff.  So, this time it is not for others-although if others enjoy hearing me play, well all the better..


December 1, 2009 at 02:14 PM ·

I thought I started playing for myself. I picked up my girlfriend's violin once she was not home. Played a few notes, and then all day I had this warm feeling wrapping around me..

But, I think you cannot really play, or start for yourself. I think to lock yourself up, so that no one can hear you is an illusion..


For some hungarian/romanian/jiddish folk, check out:

December 1, 2009 at 02:20 PM ·

For myself.

December 1, 2009 at 02:55 PM ·

I wouldn't say muzsikas has the best technique, but it is certainly unique.

December 1, 2009 at 09:24 PM ·

This might REALLY sound crazy compared to all the other stories...I remember when the soundtrack of BATMAN came out, scored by Hans Zimmer and I thought it was beautiful. 

"What instrument is that?"


"What type of strings?"

"Violins.  Right now you are hearing the violins."

That did it for me.  I knew I wanted to play a stringed instrument then, and it so happened my daughter walked home one day with a viola and I was drawn to it almost immediately.  I ended up on violin though until she grew tired of her viola.

---Ann Marie

December 3, 2009 at 05:28 AM ·

 I started playing because it's something I've always wanted to do as a kid. We weren't all that well off growing up, though, so I unfortunately couldn't learn back then. 

I'm now 29, and just started playing in January of this year. I'm completely in love. I'm normally one to get distracted easily and not persist with interests or hobbies, but the violin has been one of the few exceptions. Taking lessons regularly and actually seeing and hearing measurable improvements helps considerably. I know I'll never be a complete master at it; as long as I'm able to play beautiful music for myself and others, I'll be happy.

December 6, 2009 at 08:41 PM ·

Good, good, just don't worry about it, technique to play good takes time, take it slow.

December 6, 2009 at 10:09 PM ·

I think that's a very interesting question.  I would maintain that if one pursues an art in order to either attain approval or praise from others, or to earn money, you are bound to fail.  I may be too idealistic but I think serious study of an art form has a higher element than approval;  it has to do with human values.  You get the chance to share, if only in a small way, with the best minds, and to put something out into the world that is positive and helpful to others. 

It's kind of a contradiction, though, because at the same time one must feel a deep enjoyment personally, in order to stay the course.  Nearly an addiction, I think, but a positive one.  If you aim for something incredibly difficult you are bound to fail, at least here or there, but what it does to your spirit is challenge it, and it helps you grow as a person.  It takes a lot of personal courage and a lot of love and it's not an easy path. 

I guess then the answer to your question is "both." 

FWIW (perhaps not much), I was standing behind my mother when she was cleaning out a closet, and there was her violin which she had not touched for decades.  I somehow "knew" that this was for me, that this would be my life, and was nearly angry with her for not telling me she had this thing. 

Prior to that (I started piano first), I was younger than five years old (as we moved from that neighborhood when I was five), at a neighbor's house with my mom.  There was an upright piano in the living room;  I think I crawled over to it, reached up and touched the keys with both hands.  What an amazing sound.  I sort of "knew" that this was for me.


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