Why did you start playing?

February 24, 2012 at 11:07 PM · Okay, so I kind of have three questions;

How old where you guys when you started playing?

Why did you start playing?

And why did you keep playing?

If it was your parents who made you start playing, why did you keep playing when you got old enough to choose if you wanted to or not?

And if you started because you wanted to, what inspired you to start? What made you practice everyday even if your parents was non-musicians and didn't push you at all?

I've asked some of the kids/teens in the orchestra i'm in, and some of them says it's really just because their parents made them start, while other says it's because they wanted to play.

So I'm just curious what's you guys story?

(I'm not a native english speaker, obviously, so sorry for any mistakes.)

Replies (22)

February 24, 2012 at 11:33 PM · I've started practicing when I was 39 (at the very end of 2008). I've done it because I had to. I had always wanted to play the violin.

My ear is terrible, so, I've started with the classical guitar one year or so earlier (fretted, with the aim of training ear and fingers before trying the unfretted violin).

Since I first touched the violin at home, I was hooked. I bought a couple of mutes to practice quietly. I would practice even without sound, just left hand work, in the middle of the night.

I love the violin. I love studying it. I'll never play well, because my love is unaccompanied by talent and my ear is terrible. I have no talent whatsoever, really. But I can't help it: my free time is spent on the violin.

I practice several hours/week (all the hours my work and herniated discs - not violin related - allow me to do). At the moment, I'm practicing Mollenhauer's The Boy Paganini (having such fun), and Perlman's Israeli Concertino (love the style), besides other pieces (like the Bach double, a few Vivaldis, a tango...).

I love the violin in ways words can't say. In fact, when I think of it, my eyes fill with tears. My aim is just to continue doing what I am doing. I won't get anywhere and I don't mind. I'm enjoying the pieces I study and that's enough to make me the happiest person in the world.

February 25, 2012 at 12:16 AM · Hi,

I started at age 28. I always wanted to play the violin, since childhood. The instrument always drew me because I felt it can express feelings much better than words can. So, finally at 28 my then partner just ordered a really cheap ($50) ebay violin for me. I was hooked. For a whole year I banged away at this truly terrible instrument before I saved enough money to buy a somewhat better $250 violin. I was a really poor student at this time, so I couldn't afford lessons until about 4 years later. Once I started taking lessons I was also in a position to invest in a really decent instrument.

Why do I keep playing? Because I need to. I feel that the violin is my voice. Again, I don't think words can do justice here.

Interestingly, my violin journey has affected other parts of my life, too. It has taught me discipline, attention to detail, persistence, the ability to deconstruct overwhelming situations and instead handle them one piece at a time, etc.

Great question!


February 25, 2012 at 01:32 AM · I'm 15, and I started at age 10 because of a CD of Celtic music and my soon-to-be best friend (still my best friend!), who had already been playing a few years. I'd already been playing piano since age 4, and as a little kid I'd wanted to play both violin and harp...my preference was harp for a while, because I thought it was more girlish :) I already knew how to read music when I started the violin, but for the first few (long) years I had issues with some basic technique and finding out how to express musicality on the new instrument. My teacher was great and encouraging, but i think I personally needed more nit picking! I switched after 4 years or so, and I really like my current teacher as well. My parents never had to pressure me to practice violin...in fact, after I got into the violin, they've had to pressure me to keep up with piano xP

I don't think I've ever second thought my choice to take on violin, or considered stopping. Even though I'm not winning classical music competitions right and left, I want to keep studying and learning how to really make the violin my second voice. And then I want to teach :)

Right now I think I need experience with practice, performance, and repertoire, and a stronger foundation in technique. I want to be able to play music the way I hear it in my head...SO perfect and beautiful!

February 25, 2012 at 03:28 AM · When I was 7, a group of musicians from the major symphony orchestra came to my school to give a little concert, and also to introduce us to the different instruments of the orchestra. After the concert, they let us try out different instruments ourselves. I really liked the sounds of the violin and the flute, but when I tried out the flute, I couldn't make any sound with it. The violin, however, I was able to make sounds with, and I thought it was really cool!

I told my parents about this, and they were more than happy to get me a violin and lessons. They're both non-musicians, but they enjoy all kinds of music. Plus, I wasn't into sports as a kid, so I think they wanted me to get involved in some sort of activity outside of school:)

I think the thing that got me the most excited about the violin was the amazing teacher that I started out with. Not only was he a great player, but he was funny, engaging, and really knew how to work with young kids. He made playing the violin really fun, which I know isn't something every teacher can do well.

When I was 11, I joined a local youth orchestra (since my school didn't have a string program), which sparked my interest even more. Being one of the youngest and most inexperienced members of the group was a little daunting at first, but it really inspired me to improved my playing. Plus, meeting other kids who loved making music as much as I did helped keep up my interest in playing.

I love playing the violin (and viola, which I switched to a few years ago) because it gives me a different identity than many kids in my town. I live in a pretty rural area of a rural state, and my school is small and very sports-centered. I'm currently the only member of my graduating class that is involved in the music program, which is a little disheartening. But I go to A LOT of music festivals outside of school (All-State, All-New England, etc), where I get to spend 3 days with other amazing young musicians and work under great conductors.

February 25, 2012 at 03:42 AM · Both my older brothers started violin around the age of five, so it made perfect sense for me to continue in the tradition. I've gone thru about 9 different teachers since then, due to moving and such, and have been with my current one for over four years now. It was difficult having to work under horrible teachers, including ones who couldn't even demonstrate the simplest concerto. But I never have ever really considered giving up this instrument. There is such passion, such beauty, such opportunity for expression in the violin.

February 25, 2012 at 04:35 AM · Not sure exactly how old. My parents enrolled me in elementary piano lessons when I was 7. It wasn't long after this that a professional orchestra played at my school. I'd been listening to classical music at home since I was less than 4 years old. Now I could hear and see in person how string players made the music happen. The violin muse had grabbed me.

I asked my parents if I could switch from piano to violin. They consented -- after a short interval, that is, to be sure this wasn't just a passing fancy with me. It wasn't.

I started violin because I loved the sound of the instrument -- and I loved the music I'd heard written for it. The Tchaikovsky concerto was among the first such pieces I heard. The Beethoven and Brahms concertos were two other early inspirations. David Oistrakh, Isaac Stern, and Arthur Grumiaux were major formative influences for me -- through their vintage recordings.

Why did I keep playing? I wanted to become a professional symphony player -- and, in fact, trained seriously for such work; but I gave up that ambition at 21. I've never regretted the decision; I could see that such a job wouldn't suit me -- I'm too free-spirited and individualistic. Then, too, many concerts take place in the evening. And I am NOT a night person.

But I'm having a great time continuing as a serious amateur. I continue to practice and play about 3 hours a day.

February 25, 2012 at 05:21 AM · How old where you guys when you started playing?

49 years old

Why did you start playing?

It is something I have always wanted to try and going through a very bad (still on going since 2008) divorce I felt this would give me something to hold on to and to give back /share after it is over if ever ...

And why did you keep playing?

I have had to stop for a bit due to health issues and hopefully i can return to trying to learn to play ...

Bill G.

February 25, 2012 at 05:38 AM · I played the guitar and piano growing up. I also played in a rock and roll band for many years. I met another guitarist that played Vivaldi's Four Seasons as concertmaster at a university in Virginia. I started taking lessons with him when I was about 25. He didn't want me to play violin as much as he wanted me to accompany the Paganini Cantabile on guitar. He had selfish reasons for wanting to teach me. Anyhow, I was amazed at the really difficult yet beautiful music there was for violin. I think too that my musical family never exposed me to violin and they didn't have strings in school. I learned Mel Bay methods for guitar. When I got married, I put away music and did the dad thing. I kept guitars but sold the violin. This past year I got a violin again and I'm now taking lessons from a good teacher. I'm doing this again for fun. I want to play to an audience again, but this time I want to do classical and maybe some jazz.

February 25, 2012 at 09:15 AM · Why?

To get away from my mother ...

To get away from my first wife ...

So that I could meet beautiful females ...

Only joking ...

February 25, 2012 at 10:56 AM · I started playing one and a half years ago, I simply enjoy playing and learning. Why do I keep going now? Well, I recently asked Hilary Hahn (she was playing a concert here) if she has time to play the Bach Double Concerto with me.

Of course she did not have time to do this and therefore my new goal is to keep practicing until I am recognized as one of the greater violinists of this century. Then I simply wait until Hilary Hahn approaches me and asks me to play something with her.

It might take another ten to twenty years but I have no doubt that I can achive a lot within this time.

February 25, 2012 at 12:13 PM · How old were you when you started playing?

I was 16.

Why did you start playing?

My best friend wanted to learn so I decided to go along with it.

And why did you keep playing?

I continued for three years and rather enjoyed it most of the time, but didn't practise much, and my parents didn't make me. I stopped because my high school certificate got in the way using too much study time. Then I simply forgot about it as life moved on.

One day around three years ago, I cleaned out some wardrobes and found my old violin. I got the guilts because mum had scrimped most of the time to afford me lessons, so decided to get it tidied up and start lessons again. Best decision I ever made. I just love it now.

February 25, 2012 at 12:29 PM · I was seven years old.

The Phila. public school system gave me the chance to play violin after passing a 'musicality' test.

I fell in love with it, from day one, no one ever asked me to practice.

February 25, 2012 at 02:50 PM · When I was five, my parents said "pick two instruments" so I chose piano and violin. I studied all the way through high school but toward the end of high school I was focusing pretty much on jazz piano and I lost my motivation for the violin. When I went to college I realized that with my piano skills I could make some pretty decent money as an accompanist (and as a cocktail piano player) so I continued with the piano and set the violin aside. If you are a young person reading this, please understand that setting the violin aside at that point in my life was a terrible mistake that I regret immensely. When you go off to college, do NOT stop taking lessons. Find a teacher, and find (read: make) the time to practice. I thought I was "busy" when in reality I didn't know what "busy" was back then. I had time -- I could have done it. Anyway when my daughter (now 9) took up violin a couple of years ago, I became her Suzuki Parent, and I marveled at the incredibly high quality of instruction she was receiving -- pedagogy has really improved over the past 30 years largely because of Suzuki -- and that is what did it for me. So at the age of 44 I found myself, after setting the violin aside for 25 years, playing and taking lessons again and enjoying it very much. I still play jazz piano and I enjoy that too, but in a much different, more social way. The violin is a more individual, intellectual thing for me, because that is just what I enjoy.

February 25, 2012 at 02:52 PM · I was 10.

I wanted to play the piano. But my parents couldn't afford either a piano or lessons. In Grade 5 our school implemented a 'free' violin option and I started with those group violin lessons and a borrowed instrument.

I played for 5 years...then stopped because I had never had private lessons, and the music was getting too hard for me. I recall being 'yelled' at for not playing material I had no idea how to play.

However, for years I dusted off my violin periodically and played...so I never forgot what I had learned. I also picked up and played the mandolin for years, learned piano along with my daughter (at least someone got piano lessons!) so I was never without music entirely.

When I was in my early 40s I finally started taking violin lessons. I joined the community orchestra shortly after, in which I still play.

I am still taking lessons, with a wonderful new teacher, with the end goal to work through all the RCM material.

I also have a viola that I play in a beginner ensemble. (Stupid C clef...)...

I just enjoy the entire 'process' of music. I enjoy the history, the scores, the playing, the producing, the rehearsing, the community and I enjoy the actual equipment as well, fascinated by it all...lol.

February 25, 2012 at 03:02 PM · It was really bizarre for me. I was 12 years old, and in seventh grade. About a month into the school year, there was an error that caused the school to change my schedule. I was mysteriously taken out of woodshop, and placed in orchestra. My parents didn't know about the change until I can home from school that day, when I told them that I needed to get a violin. Not even the teacher knew I was joining the class until I walked in with my updated schedule.

I chose violin because over the other string instruments because when I walked into the orchestra class, I only recognized one person, and she was a violinist. I figured I could get her to help me out, so I could catch up to the rest of the class (I was the only beginner).

By the end of that semester, I was hooked on violin- begging my parents to get me private lessons.

Now I'm a junior in high school, and definitely plan on majoring in music when I graduate. :)

March 9, 2012 at 12:27 PM · How old where you guys when you started playing?

I think I was just about to turn four...? I'm born in October and I remember practising bowing in the summer heat. I was given a teeny 1/8 scale, which I have kept to this day (and I can play Mendelssohn on it). It's quite a feat.

Why did you start playing?

I got tricked by my mother, who plays a piano. I was watching a soloist performance on television (or it was on, anyway) and my mother asked me if I thought that looked interesting. Being a toddler, I nodded. I was not aware that I had then signed up for ten long years of strife, suffering, tears, blood, sweat, pain... (the depressing list goes on).

And why did you keep playing?

By the time I realised I did have the option to quit, I could not. It had already formed a part of my identity, and someone asking me if I wanted to quit was akin to someone asking me if I wanted to chop my left arm off. During my teen years it became one of my emotional outlets; as I had autistic spectrum disorder I was often frustrated that I could not express my emotions well when communicating to others.

Violin is like a very abusive boyfriend for me. It keeps beating me up and discouraging me and giving me depressive moments, but at the end of the day I can't let it go.

March 9, 2012 at 12:36 PM · Wow, I really enjoyed reading all the replies! Thank you!

March 9, 2012 at 02:55 PM · Momoko! Power to you - I hope the violin gives you something in return too though. The vision of an abusive boyfriend alone is rather depressing. Hasn't the instrument been a friend of sorts too?

I had a similar 'relationship' (but far less extreme) with my guitar through the teen years and into college. But it was much more positive - a friend I could always go to when the rest of the world was more than I could handle. The violin now is starting to serve a similar role - I just hvae to be careful that it doesn't become a chore with too many expectations and committments.

I'd love to hear more, if there is more ....

March 9, 2012 at 05:35 PM · I grew up in a Hungarian gypsy setting in which my Dad's side of the family are all self taught, yet talented, musicians. They had a very successful gypsy band that catered to so many people that were either immigrants or first generation Canadians with strong ties to their ethnic backgrounds. They even won gold records for selling millions of albums. I wanted to play violin like my uncle Jim and so My parents started me at the age of 2 and a half.

I learned all our traditional gypsy songs by ear and played with the band all over the place at the age of 4. I had some bumps along the way after about five years of learning. It was mostly a period when my interest in it waned, despite the fact that I had a talent for the instrument. Luckily I found renewed interest in it in my mid teens and began to take it seriously again. I had an awesome teacher that made me fall in love with good music. Luckily, my parents kept me practicing when I didn't want to.

Now, music is my life. I love to play, compose, conduct and I've been a concertmaster for many years in various orchestras. Currently, I'm a graduate student on full scholarship. Thanks mom and dad for making me practice!

March 10, 2012 at 07:45 PM · How old where you guys when you started playing?

I think I was 7 or 8 years old.

Why did you start playing?

It was a required class in elementary school. I got tricked into the viola and didn't fully understand the implications of that until I was much much older.

And why did you keep playing?

My elementary school teacher and parents thought I had talent, so I continued with lessons until I started high-school then quit (don't remember why). Anyway, I started back up again 25 years later because I realized that I really loved the viola. Now I'm hooked.

March 10, 2012 at 08:11 PM · I started at age 9 - not because I wanted to be a performer, but because I fell in love with the Beethoven Violin Concerto and just had to learn the violin to be near that sound. I begged my parents to give me lessons, and they were great enough to indulge my wish.

I soon discovered, however, that this took actual daily work, which dampened my spirits a little. But I took lessons seriously from then on until I got into grad school, and only sporadic lessons since. I was lucky to have wonderful teachers who (among other things) taught me how to practice. So I've been more or less "winging it" for decades. The breadth of expert advice on violinist.com has been very, very helpful over the years, even though it is of course no replacement for a teacher. My problem has always been finding the time in my usually busy schedule.

But my study of (and obsession with) the violin has given me an insight and understanding of classical music that you can get in no other way, and has provided many, many wonderful moments of pure violinistic bliss (as a performer and as a listener).

Thank you, violin.

Now if I could only learn to compose.....



March 10, 2012 at 08:56 PM · I've been playing the violin for almost seven months now (I'm 26), and will be taking my Grade 1 exam in two weeks.

I wanted to take up the violin in high school, as we had a teacher who was offering lessons. At first those lessons were free, but then the school started charging and I was forced to drop. I could have asked my mother if she would pay for the lessons, but I didn't know if it was something I would take up long-term and I didn't have a violin of my own and didn't feel right in asking for one. So I dropped the violin, along with my piano lessons. Both of which I regretted.

But a year or so ago, me and my friend were talking and I said I wanted to learn the violin, and she wanted to learn the guitar. She was more likely to get her instrument first, so I made a deal: if she got a guitar, I would get a violin. She got a guitar a few months later, so I picked up a second-hand violin, found a teacher, and started lessons in September.

Obviously I've only been playing for seven months, but it is something I really enjoy. My family have always been musical: my cousin's a singer, my twin cousin's play the guitar and drums, and my mother, uncles and grandfather play the keyboard. Even my sister confessed to wanting to play the flute. So I want to keep playing the violin so that I also have a musical attribute to add. I'm primarily a writer, so music is a much weaker talent in me, but I hope I can be at least average in music.

But besides that, I do love the sound of the violin. I will confess I prefer more modern music, but I enjoy playing the old stuff as well. I think it is this, as well as seeing my own progression, that will keep me playing in the future.

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