I have been playing Violin for 20+ yrs, I'm getting tired of playing.

January 5, 2011 at 04:22 AM ·

Replies (32)

January 5, 2011 at 01:31 PM ·

Jon, it's not uncommon for someone to get burned out on anything they do in life.  Sometimes time off helps.  Sometimes switching gears helps spark a renewed interest.  Maybe try the cello for a while?   I'm in the same rut, different interest.  I have trained and shown dogs for 15 years.  I am currently burned out on it.  I tried different sports with my dogs.  Obedience trialing is my obsession so I gave tracking a try and find it too time consuming.  So I have given up all together and am now learning the violin which is a desire I have had since childhood.  Lately I've been looking at my youngest dog and thinking it's time to try again with him.  I've often had long breaks from competing with my dogs due to various reasons and what I find is that I come back with a renewed energy, a renewed passion and a new set of goals.  Sometimes breaks are good.  

January 5, 2011 at 01:40 PM ·

It happens to players at the top, as well. Nigel Kennedy took quite some time off from his concert schedule some years and did other things in music, before returning reinvigorated. I believe he was quoted at the time as saying he didn't look forward to the prospect of playing the Mendelssohn 20 times in 6 months and finding something new to say in each performance!

January 5, 2011 at 03:05 PM ·

Have you considered trying baroque violin? The posture and style is more relaxed, like playing a different instrument entirely.  The tone richer harmonically, easier on the ears. You may find a new voice and an altogether different meaning in the music. 

January 5, 2011 at 05:13 PM ·

I burned out and barely touched my violin for an entire summer right before graduate school (not a good time to burn out when you're seeking a performance degree!).  Once I got back into the school routine, I realized it was just hard for me to remain motivated without being in an orchestra; I hadn't been doing that for months, just hammering away on concertos for auditions.

I guess my point is that it happens, and not to be discouraged.  If it's meant to be, you can come roaring back.  Take time off if you can and redirect your focus to something else for a while, rather than trying to force an outcome.

January 5, 2011 at 07:37 PM ·

Go to a music store, buy a Thelonious Monk album (the old vinyl), play it, and try to keep up.

Change is good!

January 5, 2011 at 09:47 PM ·

Its a dry spell. You will only loose your love of playing if you lock the door, and throw away the key.

January 5, 2011 at 09:50 PM ·

Seconding the recommendation to get into music outside of your comfort zone and see what your violin can do with it.

January 6, 2011 at 01:29 AM ·

I know how you feel. I have a bachelors of Fine art degree in painting from one of the best US art schools. I currently have a piece in show that is touring nationally. My art work has been published. And I just hate making any art. I haven't made anything in close to a year. I sometimes feel guilty about it but take comfort in a quote from Eckhart Tolle:

"Your inner purpose is to awaken. It is as simple as that. You share that purpose with every other person on the planet - because it is the purpose of humanity. Your inner purpose is an essential part of the purpose of the whole, the universe, and it's emerging intelligence. Your outer purpose can change over time. It varies greatly from person to person. Finding and living in alignment with the inner purpose is the foundation for fufilling your outer purpose. It is the basis for true success."

Hope that helps.

January 6, 2011 at 02:31 AM ·

Not meeting expectations can be very disheartening for me! And so it seems to be also the case with you. I put the violin down for a brief break when this happens too me so that I can take an honest look at my situation, circumstances, and available resources.  From this I accept the challenge of setting small goals (achievable and realistic) toward the larger goal. granted I have to re-evaluate and make adjustments and changes but it is direction and progress. I guess I really have come to appreciate why learning the violin is called, "A Pursuit".

Best wishes and I hope the best for you.


PS: I also enjoyed exploring different Genres of string music.

January 6, 2011 at 02:44 AM ·

Don't give up, man. When I get to feeling like this I forget about learning rep and I focus on fundamentals and improvisation. When I do this I'm able to focus more on my sound and I don't get so hung up on learning notes. It's pretty basic, but it works well.

January 6, 2011 at 03:39 AM ·

I agree with Susan Young. It's possible that you just need a break. I you knew that you really loved Classical music since the beginning, that it sparked something in you that you didn't know was there, then never actually give up. Even if you try to quit, music will always find its way back into your life. Look at Maxim Vengerov, he supposedly quit the violin in 2007, but now he's back into performing, but he does more conducting now.

January 6, 2011 at 11:00 AM ·

Chip in here for the 'it happens with all passions'.  I over did it in science a few years ago and burned out - thought I had nothing left to create.  Circumstances took over fortunately, in the shape of divorce, a move and immersion in admin.  That cured me!  The admin I mean ;)

It took about 3- 4 years in my case - but then the passion returned and I had one of my most productive periods.  The adage 'change is as good as a break' is right, and as said above if you need to try something different with or without the violin.  One possibility is jazz - I got roped into playing jazz at a pick-up party - it was a riot and astonishing what neat musical noises the violin is capable of!  Its a great form because expression is far more important than technical correctness...

January 7, 2011 at 10:25 AM ·

Hi Jon!

I watched your youtube-videos. I would say you are a really good player, and seem to have a very good technique and very nice sound. I don't think you have to stop playing violin in order to relax.

I did not really get: what kind of circumstances do you play in? Do you play in some amateur orchestra and from time to time as soloist?

I get slightly the impression that changing your point of view could help. I perceive you a as a very intuitive player, which is a natural gift. Yet, if you would find some constant chamber music partner, this could help you to focus more on shaping music as a landscape, rather than being mainly intuitive when playing. This for me at least, became like putting together a difficult puzzle over months and months of time, and creating interpretations. I find it being intellectually very rewarding, and it keeps me working on pieces over a long time, so that I don't burn out. An easy piece I will handle technically well after 1 hour of practice only, I will spend at least 3 months daily to work on phrasing, improving the always non-perfect intonation, dynamics, etc before I perform.

Just wondering, what do you mean with that you get "the short end of the stick"?

January 8, 2011 at 09:53 AM ·

In your bio you mentioned about your passion for music. Do you have other instruments or activities to devote your passion after you get bored about violin?


January 8, 2011 at 11:10 AM ·

@ Pierre, what is meant by "petting notes"?

January 8, 2011 at 02:43 PM ·

[great catch Lena!!]

So the little crunch for a detache is important as it serves to define the rhytm of the note.  It can sound ugly to my ear - probably because I am so close to the violin - and maybe thats why there is a tendency to mute it, make a gentle entry and 'pet'.  So let me guess - notes that are bowed to generate a tone role more than a rhythm can be sweetened by a gentle entry, eliminating the crunch...  Its kinda obvious but only with the 20:20 hind vision :)


January 8, 2011 at 03:39 PM ·

@ Pierre:

I think I understand what you mean, although I have no idea how to pet a note myself:) But I have a couple of friends (amateurs) who do it a lot, and I always get double feelings from it. I do find it beautiful, but often I feel like it can inhibit the "delivery of the message".

By the way, you have a very, very nice homepage! And a fun intonation game :D

January 9, 2011 at 03:28 AM ·

hur monga can svenska har do?

January 9, 2011 at 08:12 AM · Inte riktigt, men jag tror inte att jag skulle tänka.. But I do as well play several Instruments. I'm naturally a Violist, but love Violin. I'm a mentor for the Utah Youth Symphony Orchestras. But I think my most part is being frustrated at not being able to find a teacher who will teach me.. Several I've asked and had crash course's its like they have the impression that "I have no hope".. So but yes, I just recently did a Performance (I got reprimanded for posting on youtube) of New Music Ensemble which focuses on the latter part of 2021 music. I did the Feldman Viola in my Life, Bartok 4th Quartet and Gustavson Clarinet Quintet. And it went absolutely well, I received great responses from the school. There was a long storey short a great friend of mine who will remain anonymous but she had recently fell ill, and couldn't perform so I stepped in 2 weeks before the show. But I have a great interest in Conducting, but that was suppressed due to a comment a fellow friend had said to Maestro Fallata "We have a Violinist who thinks he's a conductor *laughing histerically* but who know's he's conducted the orchestra a couple of times but failed miserably." To say that about a person just kind-of looses their distrust. But I'm just growing tired of stupid comments. And the youtube diddy I did last minute so I really didn't have time to prepare for them, but I know what I'm capable of and its not what any of you addressed.

January 9, 2011 at 08:18 AM · But I think the main thing would be to address is that.. "How to stay motivated" I've learned and performed a lot of major Orchestral Works, and Concerti. It's like I'm not finding time useful when I practice.. Maybe I just need to sit down and really have a scrub down on playing and re-evaluating ones needs.

January 9, 2011 at 11:39 AM ·


Not to get off topic, I submitted a message to you on your personal Violinist.com-page as answer to your comment :)

January 9, 2011 at 02:02 PM ·

 This does not really seem to be about your violin playing but rather about other issues to do with the way you think you are perceived and the interactions you have with people. Take a step back and consider what is really happening.

January 9, 2011 at 03:57 PM ·

 @ Pierre

As a defence for us Swedes: we are a pretty pacifistic people. We do not like wars. We have not been engaged in many wars lately, and have a stable society-- no revolutions. But we do like being helpful, in the possible kindest way, since we consider THE EFFECT being most important. When a Swede is "applausing" somebody, it is always well-meant in order to make the person feel well for the good side for his work;  everybody have their strengths and their weaknesses, and I find it being important to highlight the strengths. If the person is interested in criticism, he will ask and get an honest response-- even from a swede. To criticize a person who has not directly asked for criticism, seldom leads to something good, since the action is unexpected (and thus unwelcome).  

Assuming that all people are strong, might be a bit unwise, considering the dirty history human kind where majority of the people did not dare to prevent evil things from happening and thus being weak. I would not either go by the Darwinistic principle, to let the weak "die" in case they cannot handle some problem, like criticism.

At the same time, I do have to admit that we in our at least amateur musical society where I live DO have a big problem arising from the lack of communication: one never knows if one plays well or bad, and what is the disturbing element for the co-musicians. I usually get the feeling, that people NEVER comment at all on each other, which is not very good in case one wants to improve and get rid of some flaws...and often I notice that the better I play on a concert, the less feedback the co-violinists from the orchestra is inclined to give me. (I can only use the amplitude of applauses as a measure of how well it went...)

@ Jon: I did not understand what you wrote unfortunately. Could you explain a bit better?

January 9, 2011 at 04:46 PM ·

 @ Pierre: I know and I agree with you on that part of speaking badly behind the back. I think, why some speak badly, is because it can be such an emotionally great effort for people to sometimes applause the good things if they are few, that they later "de-react". Somehow, like pair production of particle and anti particle always comes together.

I usually find the more disturbing element being the silence. I am currently the only violinist participating in all chamber music performances of my orchestra, and I never get comments from those at my level (the other violinists) after concerts or so (only from other chamber music partners). It was different in the previous orchestra I were in, where people openly supported each other. In the new orchestra, that is much greater (in size) and has many more ambitious people...it is just always silent.

January 9, 2011 at 08:24 PM ·

It sounds like the violin is not the cause of your lack of interest, but the assassination of your interest by others. I think this is a significant cause of any burn-out.

I noted recently there was a post about keeping the function of the unit (orchestra, section, group, whatever) together; look at 'A HR Question on Violinist Section'. The feedback underscores the importance of group harmony. Some of your acquaintances apparently are toxic to the group rather than helpful. Recognizing that THEY are the problem, and not your goals and desires may help somewhat.

March 30, 2012 at 03:53 AM · I burned out on chess some years ago.

If you do decide to find something new, remember that there is a lot you've learned by playing the violin that can be brought to bear on a great many valuable and wholesome pursuits in life. You want to retain some of those ancillary skills.

March 30, 2012 at 04:59 AM · Quote Roland Garrison: Go to a music store, buy a Thelonious Monk album (the old vinyl), play it, and try to keep up.

Change is good!

I was going to suggest having a couple of drinks and getting into the blues!

April 28, 2012 at 03:34 PM · Go here

May 14, 2012 at 10:13 AM · >But I think my most part is being frustrated at not being able to find a teacher who will teach me.. Several I've asked and had crash course's its like they have the impression that "I have no hope"..

In my opinion finding a teacher and especially finding the right teacher for you is something you should continue to pursue. Even if they have the impression that there is no hope for you... give one of them you had a great time with another chance. Take the time to get to know the teacher, and give him or her the time to get to know you. After a month or two you will know if the teacher is worth your time or not.

It does not even matter if there is any hope for you at all - the lessons will still be fun and motivating if you found somebody you can communicate with well - and that might change the whole "hopeless" situation!

May 14, 2012 at 11:11 AM · "Go to a music store, buy a Thelonious Monk album (the old vinyl), play it, and try to keep up.

Change is good!"

Jazz is very hard to play really well if you haven´t been improvising a lot before, Vengerov for instance tried it but he propably realised that he would never be a great jazzviolinist.

I would propably work with a composer that writes new music for you, many people think they are sick of the violin but in reality they are just sick of the old warhorses

It´s like a fresh breeze after a lifetime in a smoking room if you really like the works

written for you.

May 14, 2012 at 11:11 AM · You could always try to write music youself if you want too.

May 15, 2012 at 02:24 AM · By "going professional", are you talking Cleveland Orchestra professional or your local symphony? I think too many of us set our goals too high, and this can eliminate "smaller" possibilities that could be just as rewarding. As far as I'm concerned, if people enjoy my playing enough to pay me, then I'm a professional.

Also, what inspires you musically? It took several setbacks and heartbreaking experiences, but I spent a long time making serious considerations about the kind of violinist I wanted to be, what suited me, what was practical and physically possible for me to achieve. Ultimately Baroque violin was the path I chose, and I'm unbelievably happy because I'm no longer trying to "live up" to unrealistic expectations-I play music that is fulfilling to me (and play the rest of the other crap on the weekends to pay bills...if I can play Baroque for money, well then I'll be darned lucky lol!)

Don't give up yet-take some time and find out what it is you want from the violin. :)

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