Christian Violinists

July 2, 2013 at 05:09 PM · Hello! I was just wondering if there are any Christian violinists on this website who work in the Christian music ministry or industry. I am hoping to become a Christian violinist and composer myself, and I was hoping someone out there could give me a little insight on what they do, and how they got started in this field of music.

Thanks much! God's blessings on your day!

Alicia Michelle

Replies (99)

July 2, 2013 at 08:29 PM · Greetings,

this is an interesting topic. Historically the violin has tended to be the Devil`s instrument so I wonder where it will lead?



July 2, 2013 at 08:45 PM · Are christian violinists allowed to use a shoulderrest?

July 2, 2013 at 08:48 PM · you mean ... the hand of jesus guiding your bow sort of thing?

July 2, 2013 at 09:45 PM · No. All good violinists were jewish...


July 2, 2013 at 10:06 PM · Dear Tobias,

inspiringlayer you might be, but your biblical ignorance is gob smacking. Sunday is clearly cited as a day of 'rest.'

Joking aside, I am genuinely curious about what being a Christian violinst etc. entails. This is obviously important to the original poster.



July 3, 2013 at 02:30 AM · Are christian violinists allowed to use a shoulderrest

Not if they want to escape the fires of Hell! ;-)

July 3, 2013 at 03:37 AM · Interesting comments you received here Alicia and I am sorry that some decided to be disrespectful. You have a valid question and here is how I would answer it. I'm sure many violinists have been and are Christians. Vivaldi was noted as an excellent violinist in his day and was a Catholic priest. Some of the most beautiful music he wrote was religious music written for the girls at the Pieta.

The main thing is if you want to play the violin or be a fiddler you should do so and play the kind of music you want. Just get together with other like minded people and form a group and see where it goes. Music is fun!

July 3, 2013 at 04:35 AM · In the U.S. (and I imagine other places, too) there are Christian music stations, kind of like pop Christian music, and I think our friend is referring to violinists who would like to participate in that genre of music. Like being a jazz violinist or a rock violinist or a pop violinist, being a Christian music violinist. Am I correct?

July 3, 2013 at 04:56 AM · Thank you for the explanation Laurie. For anybody living outside the US, this question was a bit difficult to fathom ! I have been waiting for somebody to shed a bit of light on it.

July 3, 2013 at 08:01 AM · Buri, sorry but the Biblical day of rest is Saturday! It was the Church who moved it to Sunday..

July 3, 2013 at 08:18 AM · Joking is not being disrespectful. And religion has no special right to be respected. It's only sacred to believers. I am respectful to people, not necessarily to their beliefs.

Being a former reborn christian, I find religion very funny. And especially the american way, which I know rather well. But don't worry - I won't make jokes about specific people, only shoulder rests.

July 3, 2013 at 09:26 AM · Alicia, look up Maurice Sklar on YouTube, find his 'testimony' clip, it's very intriguing. I love the way he plays, from the heart and very inspirational.

July 3, 2013 at 09:30 AM · Since I teach at a Christian school associated with the Baptist church (Baylor University), I may have some thoughts for you. Not many of my students go into church music, but a few do and for various reasons. One of them is Associate director of Music at Arlington (Tx) First Baptist church. When she first graduated she went to Cuba on a mission to bring string music to young cubans. Since there were no music program of any quality at the time, she had to cobble together donated instruments, used strings from members of the Dallas Symphony (some of the cuban students were using telephone wire in place of violin strings), taught beginning classes in violins and was able to induce some others to join her in her teaching. Another student is active in recording Christian (and other) music in the Denver area and is active in the church as minister of music. Another has been starting a music program in the Phillipines. Previously he was a member of Dallas Opera (and on the side was a primary visitor to a death row inmate who was executed a few years back.)Others are teaching music in Christian private schools. None of these were church music majors, but the possibility of that degree exist. One normally expects keyboard, especially organ majors to go in that direction, but it is available to any instrumental music major.

I might also point out that being a church musician does not limit one to only performing or directing pop music. My grandfather for instance was a music minister (and also Dean of the Depauw University School of Music) and composed loads of anthems and an Oratorio for the 150 anniversary of the Methodist church in America. (He studied at the New England Conservatory, composition with George W. Chadwick, and was a personal friend of Charles Ives)

By the way, I think there is biblical injunction somewhat like, "Let those of you who are totally without violin tension cast the first shoulder rest."

July 3, 2013 at 12:58 PM · i was also puzzled. i understood this question in two ways:

1. learning the violin in a christian way

2. playing christian musical literature

for 1., i think learning the instrument properly has nothing to do with the idiosynchracy of the faith (alhough, your faith itself may give you the patience and will to do so - this of course is one' own peception of faith). etudes, scales...etc...for jews, christians, moslems, hindus...

so the first point doesnt seem credible.

the second is of course credible.

another way is to play in a church. but i don't think you can make that a profession as it should be done charitably :) perhaps you can do that on the side..

July 3, 2013 at 03:11 PM · Hi, Alicia.

You sure got a rather off-putting set of responses (whatever the motivations) to your first post on V-com. Hope you are still reading this thread.

Most of the Christian musicians I know started in a church situation (as volunteers or students) and their career developed from there--in other words, they put their music 'ministry' first and any career opportunities second. Their reasoning is that, if they are "Christian" musicians, the first word guides the second, not vice-versa.

If you are already associated with a church that has music, network yourself in. If not, find a church whose music speaks to you and say "hi."

Good success, whatever you discover.

July 3, 2013 at 04:48 PM · Hello, Alicia, Welcome! Glad to have you on here! I'm a Christian (not a Catholic) and am going to be a missionary; I hope to use my music for that. While I do not have a 'career' I play in public most every week for five months every year. I play hymns and classical pieces for the local Farmer's Market. I make my own arrangements of hymns and people love them. I've had many requests to record and publish them, but just haven't had time. Seek God for His's the best way to go! :)

Blessings, Cheyne

July 3, 2013 at 05:42 PM · Most of the Christian musicians that I know who are involved in aspects of the ministry are multi-skilled types. Perhaps they know some violin, but much of their work in the ministry depends on skill at the piano, organ, or guitar, which are useful for accompanying groups of congregants, or skill at arranging.

Since there really is no violin repertoire to speak of that is specifically Christian (although many composers have claimed Christian inspiration), then you either take existing repertoire and make it Christian, which just seems contrived, or you take Christian music (hymns, Amy Grant tunes, spirituals, whatever) and adapt it to the violin. But someone has already done so. Just go to Amazon and type in "Christian violin music" and you will have some books to choose.

And as for shoulder rests, you can use one. But then you have to confess.

July 3, 2013 at 05:44 PM · Alicia - I think your question is interesting. I am Jewish, so perhaps I do not have a say in this, but I will add my $0.02 for what it is worth. Your main goal should be to become as good a violinist and musician as you possibly can. If you play classical music, you will find that a significant amount of it has some Christian aspect or component, not least, the masses composed by the great composers. However, music that is "Christian" in some sense tends to be either sacred/classical, hymns or popular. I think Bruce has pointed out the most obvious avenues for you to pursue if classical is not where you wish to specialize. I suspect that as you pursue your music education and your Christian activities, you will figure out possible niches for yourself. What you need to be is open to possibilities and to use your imagination to create them. Good luck!

July 3, 2013 at 07:34 PM · An example of a successful "Christian musician" (in the sense of one who works in the field of religious or sacred music) is Kurt Kaiser who made lots of money arranging, composing, recording and performing music used in Christian settings. He wrote a piece for solo violin and orchestra called "Emmanuel, A Fntasie for Violin and Orchestra. It is based on Christian hymns.

An example of a Jewish musician might be a cantor who is hired to sing in a religious service.

July 3, 2013 at 08:08 PM · Alicia - I would recommend contacting directly the violinist of some groups that you enjoy listening to and ask them their story of how they got there. For example, you can contact Melodee DeVevo from Casting Crowns through their website. If you can't find out who plays violin for a certain group, email them and ask them who they usually use and if you can get their contact info. The best way to get somewhere is to ask someone who is there now. Hope this helps!

July 3, 2013 at 08:38 PM · Bruce - your points are good and interesting. Another good example of a Jewish musician would be a member of a klezmer group, a group that plays a type of traditional Eastern European Jewish folk music. I don't know if there is any sort of Christian equivalent to klezmer. Also, if you look at the music in Broadway shows from earlier times, there is a certain amount of it involving clever use of Jewish liturgical music and traditional Jewish compositional techniques. So, there is no reason a Christian could not do similar things. I think you could probably even use some of the hymns as the basis for jazz compositions, or created jazz forms of the Christian services. I know of several examples of Jewish Jazz Shabbat services. It is really a question of using one's imagination. But, I think Victor's suggestion of getting in touch with violinists in groups she likes is excellent.

July 3, 2013 at 08:49 PM · Regarding Tom's comments:

There is no question that Charles Ives incorporated Christian hymn references in his music such as the 2nd Violin Sonata in which the last movement is entitled The Revival.

July 3, 2013 at 09:46 PM · That's nothing new. Most pop music and similar is based on "christian" music. Ray Charles used Gospel music for his songs etc. etc.

A great part of our western musical heritage is based on christian culture, but in the end there is only good or bad music. You cannot play a christian major scale or do a christian vibrato (ok, there is genuine jewish vibrato in klezmer, hm...)

July 3, 2013 at 10:46 PM · Alicia,

There's a wide variety of directions you can go. I know and play with quite a few other Christian musicians. Our orchestra's composer-in-residence taught music composition at Abilene Christian College (now a university). He is now retired, but still does many original compositions, as well as a slew of arrangements He composes for UIL competitions in Texas.

Some folks I know teach in schools, and spend their non-school time playing in church groups.

You can always put your name out in the church community as someone who is willing to do specials. Especially around Christmas and Easter, churches who don't have regular orchestras will hire in an orchestra (I have done these). Many churches will also hire in for plays they present (I have also done some of these). Although hire-ins do not pay well, they are loads of fun with fun people, and it's a good way to get known for your work and professional ethic.

Many of the Christian musicians I know went to UNT (University of North Texas). I took lessons from a PhD candidate there, who is an excellent teacher and performer. It's not a faith-based institution, but it's a reputable music school. Some people I who went there played in churches and picked up related gigs during college, and used that as an avenue to a career.

Years ago , we went to a Steve Green concert. He had an outstanding violinist accompany him. I don't recall her name, but her path went from music degree to Disney, eventually to performing in major Christian music markets.

There are lots of options -- you start down the road and see where it leads. (Ps 119:105)

From a historical view, you might find this book interesting.

July 4, 2013 at 12:58 AM · Alicia:

You asked how to get started? I assume that you are are now playing violin at some level. First, find a congregation where the music is at a level where you can contribute comfortably. Keep in mind this may be in another denomination from your choice. Meet with the music director to ask if you can volunteer. There can be only one of two answers. If it is negative look into other congregations in your area. There will be a place for you.

I stopped violin lessons when in tenth grade. And picked up the fiddle many years later after retirement. I was moved into a church in a small town 100 miles east of Dallas. In our group there are two violins, one cello and the organ. I concentrate on the main theme of the hymns. The other violin plays different harmonies during each verse. I don’t sight read therefore have to practice for each Sunday.

Look, ask and you too will be moved.


July 4, 2013 at 03:15 PM · Hi Alicia,

Paul Deck's reply can be very helpful.

There are some very successful international violinists who happen to be Christian such as Queen Elisabeth's 2nd prize winner, Ning Kam, for example.

However, you are talking about a different ball game. You seem to be talking about future involvement in Christian music as a genre.

Well, all the Christian musicians that I know who are involved in aspects of the Christian ministry are multi-skilled. They may know some violin on the side and as Paul pointed out, much of their work in the ministry depends on skill at the piano, organ, or guitar which are useful for accompanying groups of congregants and most important of all, especially their arranging skills. They often begin by volunteering first.

I have met not a few Christians who are musicians and not one of them is primarily a violinist. They tend to be composers, arrangers, accompanists and choral conductors who may just happen to know violin as one of their many instruments. Violin does not seem to be a key instrument in church music ministry, the piano/organ/guitar will be in these cases.


July 4, 2013 at 06:51 PM · Now, after lots of specific information (and some friendly jokes), a statement by Alicia would be interesting...

July 4, 2013 at 07:45 PM · Someone mentioned Melodee Devevo from Casting Crowns. She is also fairly active on twitter. My all time favorite Christian violinist i Johnathon Chu he plays with the contemporary band Skillet (they also have had a good deal of cross-over success. Johnathon is a member here I believe but is not active. He is active on both Facebook and Twitter and is a very approachable guy.

July 4, 2013 at 09:14 PM · trying to imagine what a christian violin sounds like ...

July 4, 2013 at 10:58 PM · I've always felt that playing the violin, any instrument actually, brings us all together, regardless of our religious beliefs. I wonder if everyone in the world could play classical music if we would continue to have wars, especially those that have a religious origin.

July 5, 2013 at 07:47 AM · Hi Richard,

You forgot perhaps that mass murderers like Hitler plays the piano a little and Reinhard Heydrich is a violinist. Many Nazis in the war love Mozart string quartet music. Men themselves and his/her own lack of virtue create war and divisions and then, a religion or society's injustices or some so-called just causes are blamed. Let's remember Henry VIII, Animal Farm & Machiavelli's Prince. Sigmund Freud on the other hand, has often been quoted by his contemporaries as one who "hates music" may be very unpleasant when they disagreed with him, and yet sans music, he is no warmonger.

Sorry, Alicia, for a slight digression.


July 5, 2013 at 08:32 AM · Is Alicia real?

Alicia? ...Alicia????

PS. That that catholic guy from Austria (in fact he himself wasn't german) pops up in a discussion about christian fiddling is interesting.

PPS. @ Thessa: Just ask any warrior in an holy war about his reasons. Religion IS a main reason for wars. But let's stop discussing war, let's go back to shoulder rests.

July 5, 2013 at 01:53 PM · assuming it's music in the 21st century we're discussing here and not some draconian dark age dirge ... blessings of a bright n' breezy, educated and emancipated, democratic n' secular society on your day, alicia!

July 5, 2013 at 02:20 PM · Hi, everyone,

Thank you for taking the time to comment. I have been playing violin for about 12 years now, and it really is in my heart to use violin to spread the Gospel message. I was wondering if any of you folks out there have gone into this field of music as well, and how you got started.

Your advice about directly contacting violinists who are already in popular groups is great, and I will look into that.

Although I may not understand this "shoulder rest" joke that everyone keeps referring to, I appreciate that you too the time to help me out with this. God's blessings!

Alicia Michelle

July 5, 2013 at 02:30 PM · Thanks and good luck! One thing to bear in mind as you explore your vision for your future is to try to take as inclusive a view as possible of what might constitute "Christian music." Use your imagination. As a violinist, you do not have the simple options that an organist or pianist does.

July 5, 2013 at 02:40 PM · One other factor you might to think about would be to build some vocal skills. A lot of contemporary groups have members who will move between vocal and instrumental in a piece.

This could open up other opportunities for you.

July 5, 2013 at 10:19 PM · Alicia,

just as religion does not unite, but divide, and therefore is a steady source of strife, many violinist have big fun with quarelling about the benefits or moral implications of shoulder rests.

(Those who decline the use of sholder rests take the part of those who have seen the light ;-)

July 5, 2013 at 11:27 PM · Idle left hands are the shoulder rests' playground/workshop.

Here is one good "Christian" violinist:



July 7, 2013 at 02:14 AM · I claim no special knowledge of religion, jokes, or shoulder rests. But I thought I'd share an unusual dream with y'all...

I was in a musty second-hand bookshop, and in the remotest corner I came across a very old-looking tome entitled "The Highly Apochryphal Book of Vio-thustra". It began - and I misquote - "Thus spake Vio-thustra: I am the Violin, thy Violin. Thou shalt NOT have any shoulder rest between ME and thee - yea even unto the end of thy days, that it may be well with thee. Whosoever shall use a shoulder rest shall be called the least in the Kingdom of the Violin. Such a one - being very naughty in MY sight - shall be pelted with shoulder rests and stabbed with sharpened bows. Thus spake Vio-thustra!"

I wanted to read more but the excitement woke me up.

July 7, 2013 at 05:41 AM · nice anecdote ... i'm sure every violinist will relate and understand - very niche-y.

July 7, 2013 at 08:35 AM · Apologies to the Marines, but could not let Mr. Klayman's gibe go unresponded:

This is my shoulder rest. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

My shoulder rest is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.

My shoulder rest, without me, is useless. Without my shoulder rest, I am useless. I must place my shoulder rest true on my violin. I must play better than my enemy who is trying to out play me. I must play before he plays. I will...

My shoulder rest and I know that what counts in this war is not the notes we play, the purity of our tone, nor the rosin dust we make. We know that it is the music that counts. We will make better music...

My shoulder rest is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will keep my shoulder rest clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will...

Before God, I swear this creed. My shoulder rest and I are the defenders of my country and violin. We are the masters of our enemies who play without a shoulder rest. We are the saviors of my life.

So be it, until victory is America's and there is no one playing without a rest, and peace.

July 7, 2013 at 09:39 AM · This gives interesting insight into part of the american spirit...

god bless america (if it only would be clear which one...)

oops.. forgot this one: ;-)

July 7, 2013 at 11:31 AM · Sadly, that has nothing to do with American spirit, this is just brainwashing the soldiers that are sent as cannon fodder wherever big business interests please.

July 7, 2013 at 01:06 PM · I would assume marines and their patriotic code are as american as shoulder rests are violinistic.

July 7, 2013 at 06:22 PM · Yesterday I had the pleasure of playing in a memorial concert given by Bristol Chamber Orchestra in a packed Frenchay Parish Church, St John Baptist, in celebration of the life of Roger Thomas, a former leader of the orchestra.

Roger studied music at Bristol University and on graduating decided to become an Anglican priest instead of pursuing an obvious career as a full-time musician. He was subsequently ordained and eventually became Rector of Frenchay and Winterbourne Down, in Gloucestershire, a post he held for the last 21 years of his ministry, before he passed away ten years ago.

Throughout his life Roger contributed significantly to music making in Bristol, performing as a soloist, a quartet member, and an orchestral player, leading Bristol Chamber Orchestra for many years. He was also very much into folk music and played a mean folk-fiddle with Winterbourne Down Mummers.

As an example of his professionalism as a leader I remember an occasion when Roger's A snapped halfway through the opening bar of a Bach overture that was opening a concert. He immediately went off stage and returned a few moments later with his other violin already tuned up, bowed quickly to the audience and restarted the overture.

Our concert last night included Elgar's Serenade Op 20, Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings, Bach's Double Concerto in C minor BWV for Violin and Oboe, and Vaughan William's Oboe Concerto. The soloists were two of Roger's younger relatives: Niece Emma Welton, a free-lance violinist with a Masters in Music at York University, and Grand-daughter Sarah Bence who is about to continue her oboe studies at the Royal College of Music.

An important part of the concert was a choral recital by several members of Roger's family, all accomplished singers in their own right, some professional. The pieces they performed ranged from the 16th century to the present day.

Throughout the interval we could hear folk-fiddle music, Irish and English, pervading the church from on high. This was Sarah Bence in the bell tower reminding us of her Uncle's love of folk music.

Truly, Roger was a Christian, a musician, and a gentleman, in every sense.

July 7, 2013 at 06:35 PM · Trevor,

what exactly made his musicianship "christian"?

July 7, 2013 at 07:52 PM · Tobias, my final sentence did not quite reflect my intention, so I have amended it.

I did not mention musicianship as such, but clearly by implication Roger Thomas had plenty of it. How it specifically connected to his Christianity I could not say but I would guess his musicianship would have had a beneficial effect on the music in his church.

July 7, 2013 at 11:43 PM · Greetings,

one of the things I like about these topics is that they encourage one to actually sit down and define exactly what they are talking about. I assumed I knew what a Christian was but if I had been given 3 seconds to answer in one sentence I might actually have blooped to some extent.

One simple solution appears to be 'someone who follows Christ.'

On the whole this seems much more sensible than following a conducter.



July 8, 2013 at 01:42 AM · ... but who has all the best tunes?

think i could make a buck playing secular songs of praise?

July 8, 2013 at 02:30 AM · Question:

Who among us, when playing the violin in complete awareness of the profundity of music, the beauty of the violin and the very wonder of our ability to be a conduit for music--not to mention the humbling awareness that we have been given the capacity to learn to play the instrument in a way that can move other people in powerful ways that words cannot, can deny the experience is a gift from God? Answer: Only a fool.

This young lady has asked a sincere question that goes well to the heart of the matter. I suggest we might be humbled enough by her honesty and openness, and shed any innate fears or discomfort that preconceived biases may cause---- and offer her sincere and respectful responses. To do so would imply that we are grateful for the gift we have been given, and are aware of it's origin. So, It appears I have come out of "retirement" to simply ask that we be kind. In the process, we may learn much about ourselves---and yes---God. :-)

July 8, 2013 at 02:50 AM · Who among us, when playing the violin in complete awareness of the profundity of music, the beauty of the violin and the very wonder of our ability to be a conduit for music--not to mention the humbling awareness that we have been given the capacity to learn to play the instrument in a way that can move other people in powerful ways that words cannot, can deny the experience is a gift from God?

I agree the influence of Apollo in music and arts should not be forgotten ;)

But going back to Alicia's question of Christian music or industry. Perhaps this site "ViolinSong" might be a good starting point?

Re: Shoulder Rest. Is it a product of Creative Design or Evolution?

July 8, 2013 at 03:16 AM · Question:

Who among us, when playing the violin in complete awareness of the profundity of music, the beauty of the violin and the very wonder of our ability to be a conduit for music--not to mention the humbling awareness that we have been given the capacity to learn to play the instrument in a way that can move other people in powerful ways that words cannot, can deny the experience is a gift from God? Answer: Only a fool.

Answer: An atheist, silly!

July 8, 2013 at 07:41 AM · christian violinists suggests the existence of muslim violinists ... or cargo-cult violinists ... or aztec violinists ...

quetzalcoatl's blessing on your day!

July 8, 2013 at 09:01 AM · I know that there is at least one Pastafarian violinist...

...may the pesto be with you.

July 8, 2013 at 08:08 PM · Of course there are Muslim violinists, Jewish violinists (and HOW!), and every flavor in between. I am sure you realize (but don't seem to care) that she is not implying that Christian violinists play in any particular way differently from anyone else--- it is of course their motivation for playing, repertoire, and network that is being discussed (and disrespected).

So having said my piece, I will now go off into silence again, highly motivated to not return to these "wise" discussions. This place is simply too cynical, mean-spirited and full of pompous "experts" for me. Bye.

July 8, 2013 at 08:33 PM · motivation, repertoire and NETWORK! ... absolutely.

July 8, 2013 at 09:53 PM · I agree, Mr.. Russell.

July 8, 2013 at 10:57 PM · This place is simply too cynical, mean-spirited and full of pompous "experts" for me. Bye.

Grains of truth. Calling people "fools" for not believing in a (particular?) god could be construed as one example. This was arguably the first sign of intended disrespect on this thread, obvious joking aside.

July 8, 2013 at 11:25 PM · Hi Alicia,

My favourite music to play in church: violin and piano sonatas by Handel and Bach. This is probably not the type of music you were thinking of. A lot of people in Evangelical and other churches are not familiar with this kind of music any more and yet it is such a rich heritage. And you know, people will listen and often start to appreciate music they were never exposed to. You will find many congregants want you back for more.

BTW the old Irish hymns are great too.

July 9, 2013 at 02:23 AM · Yikes. What an interesting thread.

July 9, 2013 at 02:49 PM · "Of course there are Muslim violinists, Jewish violinists (and HOW!), and every flavor in between."

this raises an interesting point. in terms of middle-eastern influence on european music, jewish string players have made the greatest - almost all of it secular. the only muslim influence i could point to would be iberian and that, again, is secular.

guitarist john mclaughlin and mandolinist andy statman call their music "religious" but i think that has more to do with stage persona than any definitive religious content. musicians such as uppalapu shrinivas (mandolin) and m.s. gopalakrishnan (violin) play carnatic music, which is closely linked to hinduism but i can't think of one premier violin player who would admit to being inspired by jesus.

professionally speaking, wouldn't that be the kiss of death?

July 9, 2013 at 08:13 PM · In my teens, as a reborn christian and guitarist, I was being critizised for playing Santana tunes (who was then a fanatic of an obscure guru named sri chinmoy). I responded: When I play Santana, since I have the holy spirit, this becomes christian music thru my fingers.

I'm still proud of that answer, even if I'm now a little bit embarrassed about having been part of such a childish crowd.

July 10, 2013 at 01:31 PM · (I am a Christian violinist, but although once or twice I picked up a fee in classical orchestral work, I'm essentially amateur and even more so now. When accompanying hymn singing on whichever instrument, I try to play the words) My teacher, the late Winifred Copperwheat, best known as a violist, but who also taught and performed on the violin, was a Christian, who with her Sunday School teaching sister, Mabel, sold their house to the Unevangelised Fields Mission for half its value when moving into a smaller house (She commented that they didn't want for anything as a result). There are quite a number of violinists in the (UK) Musicians Christian fellowship - When I used to be with MCF they tended to play in things like the English Chamber Orchestra and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. The late Alice Compain (you can google her) was a violinist of professional standard and her tract, entitled something like "A violinist on the Mission field" may still be obtainable. The late Russell Mills (who worked with his better-known singer wife Betty Lou) was also a violinist of high standard. John Bunyan (The not-so-late) made a violin, which he used for teaching his congregation psalm tunes, and, perhaps, even for leading sung worship. I don't know about the Koreans (e.g., Kyung-wha Chung or Sarah Chang) - I've heard rumours, but you don't see anything about it on the internet. Lastly, I once saw the Annie Moses Band on air and was most impressed with their musicianship and violin playing.

July 10, 2013 at 10:11 PM · john - just curious - if you were to play a piece of secular music, would you still consider yourself a christian musician?

July 11, 2013 at 01:19 AM · Bill, if I WERE to play a piece of secular music, what do you mean? A few years ago I had to perform Bach (Incidentally, HE was a Christian and a violinist, which makes him a Christian violinist) unaccompanied at a wedding (Don't be too impressed. I couldn't even do the E major Gavotte without cheating slightly, you can probably guess where, and after the Gavotte and Gigue I went on to the viola, where the 'cello suites, even the E-flat major, are easier than the violin Partitas and Sonatas. My fees, if I remember rightly, were for programmes which included Elgar's MusicMakers, Enigma variations, Polovtsian Dances {not by Elgar}, etc - I really felt a bit of a fraud, picking up those fees, because I really didn't manage all the notes in the MusicMakers or the Enigma).

And I don't know that Winifred ever used her viola in any sort of Christian work or outreach. And neither the English Chamber Orchestra nor the CBSO are Christian orchestras.

Bill, are you Irish, or are you the grandson or great-grandson of a non-evangelical but highly sincere Bible scholar, whose Oxford English was impeccable, or ...

July 11, 2013 at 12:59 PM · my grandfather came from scotland - initiating an american branch of disparaging disbelievers.

when playing something other than church music, do you consciously engage yourself musically with jesus?

July 11, 2013 at 02:15 PM · Back in the 1970s (and probably the early 1980s) I played violin and cello every Sunday in the Methodist church around the corner. Our music minister was Jim Strathdee ( The Strathdees are on lots of websites as well as Facebook). He and his wife Jean were very active in that church (where his father Fred had been the beloved minister for years) but also spread out to other California Methodist churches. They also made a number of professional recordings of their religious songs (I believe I played violin on one or two of those (recorded in an LA studio - interesting experience hearing your violin through a headset).

The Strathedees are still a traveling music ministry and are now home based in Sacramento, CA.

I know that Methodists are not what "Christians" call "Christian," but the music ministry is the same. Ability to lead a music group is paramount (and Jim was as good as I have seen - and I have even played under Herbert Blumsteadt), ability to play keyboard/piano is rather critical (Jim could, although his main performance instrument was guitar at that time and he could lead from that as well as by conducting). One could lead from violin too, as Nadia Solerno Sonnenberg does very effectively with the New Century Chamber Orchestra.

I also had, for more than 50 years, a (now deceased) brother-in-law who was an active music minister in fundamentalist Christian churches (although he earned his living as a public-school music teacher. His specialty was voice.

For any kind of music performance, leadership, composition, and understanding, a deep familiarity with music theory is important, the more the better. For credibility a decent performance ability is also needed.


July 11, 2013 at 03:01 PM · when i first learned how to meditate, i sometimes played a note on a tibetan singing bowl but that's as close as i ever got to making what might be considered "religious" music. in fact, it was more a meditation aid than anything specifically religious.

if i may beg your indulgence, what i'd like to know is ... while playing "gospel" or any other type of religious music, do "christian" musicians actually believe they're communing with "something out there" - over and above feelings and emotions engendered by the music?

July 11, 2013 at 05:08 PM · "Christian" musicians don't have to play music to communicate with God--he's given us the gift of prayer so we can talk to him directly. We use music to glorify and praise our God for all of the amazing things he's done for us. Really, that's the whole reason we're here on this earth: to magnify the name of the Lord and help everyone to know that he loves them and came to save them. I believe he's given me these talents so I can do just that.

(Two off-topic remarks: I had no idea I would get such strange responses on this thread, and I like my shoulder rest...)

July 11, 2013 at 05:22 PM · Alicia,

You might find it helpful to look at what other Christian classical musicians (e.g., Christopher Parkening - guitar, and Sam Rotman - piano) do to use their music as a means of sharing with others what Christ has done for them. Christopher Parkening has written an autobiography that I believe would be worth your reading.

You might also be interested in the MasterWorks Festival (

July 11, 2013 at 05:24 PM · The sometimes 'strange responses' are part of the joy of this forum. I hope that you did get some good information.

I don't like my shoulder rest and I wish I could be rid of it.

July 11, 2013 at 05:49 PM · @Brian - I still remember the days on this forum before Buri got spell check. He was very spelling-challenged. Talk about "strange responses."

@Alicia - this forum has a lot of unusual folks, so "strange responses" are not unusual. A lot of times, they begin to pop up when a thread appears to be exhausted. In addition to the strange responses, you have gotten a lot of good suggestions and leads. Hopefully, you will find what you are looking for as you make your journey through musical life. Just remember that your first duty is to work hard to build on the talents and gifts that G-d has given you, and try to be as open and inclusive as possible in trying out different options. What may ultimately strike you as the right niche for you may be something that at first blush you might not consider "Christian" music. Good luck!

July 11, 2013 at 06:06 PM · alicia - could you please explain what you mean when you say "he" has given us these gifts. you've obviously thought a lot about this - can say how this works? i can certainly understand the proselytizing effect of music and why it's put to that use - what i don't understand is how anyone could misconstrue your talent and ambition and the patience and dedication of the various teachers you've studied with over the years for something "given" to you by "something out there."

July 11, 2013 at 06:17 PM · I like Alicia's nice story about what God gives to us etc. - it reminded me of my teenage years playing Santana and Doobie Brothers in a christian rock band.

When I told my loved one that back then I had been told that God gave me the gift of playing guitar, she asked me "but was it already there, or did you have to practise?" I told her that I had been practising like hell, and she only nodded.

July 11, 2013 at 07:02 PM · ...I thought the whole reason we were on earth was to perpetuate the species...

But I could be wrong on that one...;)

July 11, 2013 at 09:44 PM · God gave us shoulders so we can use shoulder rests...

...oops, I'll be quiet now...

July 11, 2013 at 10:05 PM · I have always been bemused by the fact that people seek a "human-like" reason for everything. I always think "how?" as in cause and effect a more pertinent question than "why?" unless it is a matter of human motivation.

July 12, 2013 at 01:01 PM · Hey folks. Alicia has asked what she feels is a serious and important question. I am Jewish, not Christian, but I recognize that it is a serious question for her and have tried to respond accordingly. If you can't treat her question as serious, maybe you should forgo responding.

July 12, 2013 at 02:22 PM · tom - what i think alicia is doing is a serious attempt to proselytize. who else but someone with an evangelical disposition would evoke the blessing of their sky-god in a place where it is inappropriate, unwarranted, and - in my instance - sure to cause offense?

would you or anyone else who has commented thus far be as considerate and accommodating if she and others of her persuasion were outside your door, pamphlets in hand, concocting some ploy or other before they try to lay it on you?

"religion spoils everything."

July 12, 2013 at 02:38 PM · Bill - I would do with her what I do with all religious folks who attempt to proselytize me: politely tell them I am not interested and to go try someone else. I have no idea what she will end up doing with whatever she discovers in the course of her search. From my perspective, she seeks to convey her message through music, and that seems fairly harmless to me, even though I may not agree with that message. I find Handel's Messiah quite moving every time I play it, even though I do not agree with its message. You and I and everyone else are entitled to ignore whatever she is trying to convey, if we prefer, just as we are free to tell proselytizers who approach us to go away. Besides, she may discover something more compelling to her along the way that you would find less threatening. So, I am not all that concerned by her question.

July 12, 2013 at 04:24 PM · fair enough - i hope she finds something more meaningful and down to earth as well ... and in the fervent hope of her succeeding at this - and upon reflection - i've edited my last comment to read "someone with an evangelical disposition" instead of what i wrote earlier, which was inflammatory and unbecoming of this site.

July 12, 2013 at 09:09 PM · And everybody ist welcome to share his or her opinions and real or imaginary experiences, as long it's connected to the violin world.

And the most natural thing is that these get discussed and commented here, cause that's what this place is for.

There is no special protected area for religious people here. I know religious people often think they deserve a special respect, but that's as inappropriate as demanding special respect when having special habits regarding shoulderrests.

July 12, 2013 at 09:29 PM · I have to agree with Tobias. I also find that some (not all...) people expect special consideration when they announce that they are 'religion X'. Or that the announcement elevates them somehow.

I haven't quite figured out the heirarchy though...

However, whatever one thinks of someone's position on a subject...religous or otherwise...we shouldn't be rude. However, some good-natured joking isn't inappropriate...or at least it shouldn't be.

July 13, 2013 at 12:46 AM · Its quite logical that different subjects get connected in an intelligent discussion, together with some jokes. Its not necessarily disrespect, though it could conceivably offend.

That's democracy for you, the right to both take and give offense, even if unintended. For example, I remember a discussion about hating Bruckner (not just as music but also as a person). I remember "speaking out" (from personal experience) against hating people and I also remember being offended when Tom responded directly to me by saying, "Bruckner probably hated you", because I did not understand where it was coming from. Perhaps Tom decided I was pontificating or perhaps he was just being nasty by proxy.

July 13, 2013 at 02:04 AM · Wow.

I hope some of you feel better after unloading some of that personal embitterment on someone who didn't do anything to deserve it.

Well done.

July 13, 2013 at 11:43 AM · It's the right of the religious to be sensitive or to feel easily offended.

Others have fun. The only bitter with me is the pilsner I'll have this afternoon in the shade ;-)

July 13, 2013 at 08:47 PM · Greetings,

maybe I am misreading things, but I get absolutely no sense of Alicia proselytizing . As far as I can see she is just stating her beliefs in an entirely appropriate manner. She doesn`t seem to be terribly offended either which I respect.

The question as to whether God gave us abilities to use as we see fit or the atheist position that we create it all through our own efforts is at the most basic basic level simply asking the same question `Do you believe in God or not?` There is no correct answer, only a personal one. Neither should be disrespected.

My own beliefs are that God created us to make human life as beautiful as possible. This is what we strive for and the rewards are commensurate with our efforts. Where one feels those rewards come from is again a matter of choice.

I am personally unable to accept the proposition that religion is primarily responsible for war. I think it is primarily responsible for some wars but that is not the same. I take the liberty of quoting at some length a passage from `The State of War and Peace Atlas` by Dam Smith .

`Through war, one group imposes its will upon another. war is about power and politics. Variously, wars are fought for national independence, to control territory or natural resources, to take over the government in the name of justice, national unity or some other cause- or to prevent these things from happening. wars are fought to protect the identitity of a nation or ethnic group, sometimes by resisting an alien power, sometimes by crushing another group. But the causes for which people and states fight are not the same as what causes them to fight. The situation that creates the need to achieve a goal by force of arms grows from many factors- economic, historical, political and cultural.

Not only do wars have multiple causes, but what keeps a war going is often different from what started it....`

Love and Peace to all.

Shall we go and do some practice?


July 13, 2013 at 09:30 PM · secular, humane, politically/socially/scientifically enlightened blessings on your day, stephen.

where do YOU! stand with shoulder-rest?

July 13, 2013 at 09:59 PM · rather than stand I prefer to jump on them.....

July 16, 2013 at 03:33 PM · Hi, everyone,

@bill's question:

"alicia - could you please explain what you mean when you say "he" has given us these gifts. you've obviously thought a lot about this - can say how this works?"

When I say "he," I specifically mean God, the Lord, Jesus Christ, or whichever name you prefer to call him by. How it works is quite simple--he designed us even before birth, instilling in us the foundation for the talents we possess in this life. That's how he gave me my musical gifts.

"i can certainly understand the proselytizing effect of music and why it's put to that use - what i don't understand is how anyone could misconstrue your talent and ambition and the patience and dedication of the various teachers you've studied with over the years for something "given" to you by "something out there.""

Bill, I respect your religious (or non-religious) views, and I hope you respect mine. That being said, I want to let you know that I did not "misconstrue" my talent and ambition. For a while, I grew up really thinking that I would pursue the path of a classical violin soloist. I made the decision to become a Christian musician myself, because I feel this is the best way to serve God. I do not feel I am wasting my talent; all of the years I've spent studying performance and composition have prepared me for this career. And I'm not simply playing for "someone out there." Jesus is the biggest part of who I am. He's even more important than music. He's the center of my life. I hope you understand that, so you realize why I've chosen this route.

"tom - what i think alicia is doing is a serious attempt to proselytize. who else but someone with an evangelical disposition would evoke the blessing of their sky-god in a place where it is inappropriate, unwarranted, and - in my instance - sure to cause offense?

would you or anyone else who has commented thus far be as considerate and accommodating if she and others of her persuasion were outside your door, pamphlets in hand, concocting some ploy or other before they try to lay it on you?

"religion spoils everything.""

First of all (pardon the long post), please refer to my original message:

"Hello! I was just wondering if there are any Christian violinists on this website who work in the Christian music ministry or industry. I am hoping to become a Christian violinist and composer myself, and I was hoping someone out there could give me a little insight on what they do, and how they got started in this field of music.

Thanks much! God's blessings on your day!

Alicia Michelle"

Contrary to popular belief, I am not attempting to proselytize anyone. This message was targeted specifically to violinists who are already playing Christian contemporary music for a career. You certainly didn't have to look at this post, especially if you didn't like its topic. You didn't need to ever come back to it at all if you thought it would offend you.

Secondly, I do not believe that this topic is inappropriate. It's a part of who I am as a violinist; therefore, it should be allowed on this site. Not to mention, I live in America, which is a free country, and we are guaranteed freedom of religion. You know that saying, "try to please all, and you please none?" You can't live your life constantly trying to avoid offending people, because there will always be at least one person who will take offense. If I chose, I could take offense at your comments and say that they're inappropriate. But I won't, because I don't believe that. I respect your beliefs and your comments, and I thank you for taking the time to post here.

One more thing for future reference: Christians aren't concocting some ploy. We're trying to tell you about God's saving message. We believe that it's better to offend you now and have you end up in heaven than the alternative. Even if you don't agree with my viewpoints and beliefs, I hope you respect them and maybe even understand them.

Thank you much for taking the time to read this. I also would like to thank those of you who have been respectful of my beliefs already and have given me some places to look into.

God bless!

Alicia Michelle

July 16, 2013 at 05:13 PM · sorry alicia - i don't believe a word of it. at best your original post may be well intentioned subterfuge, but subterfuge it remains. "religion spoils everything" ... and to bring it all back home, here's some genuine fiddle content via jay ungar:

July 16, 2013 at 06:22 PM · Alicia, I don't share your religious views, but I did think your original question was perfectly appropriate for this forum. I never considered your original post to be proselytizing, and I never once considered the possibility that you were trying to slip a few tracts into our violin cases along the way. I'm very disappointed to see how much you've been taunted and baited in this thread. I hope it won't sour you on participating in forums here in future. I know you felt like you had to respond to Bill, but I don't think his "question" deserved a response because it was insincere.

As a humanist, I believe the purpose of life is to enjoy it, to avoid harming or frustrating the lives of others, and to make a useful contribution to the collective. Go ahead and do what you think you will find enjoyable and fulfilling.

You have strong feelings, and that means that the agreements and disagreements that you have with others will be amplified. When you wear something on your sleeve, you can expect that it will be noticed and talked about, and others may conclude that you wanted that attention.

If you want to be a violinist who plays modern Christian music, that's fine with me. I won't be one of your listeners simply because I don't like that kind of music. That reflects my preference, not your skill or your sincerity.

My original advice still stands. The best way to go about it, in my opinion, is to be either an absolutely amazing violinist regardless of what you are playing, or to diversify your musicality into areas like accompanying and arranging which have time-proven, general utility in the church.

July 16, 2013 at 06:29 PM · Alicia,

"... I respect your religious (or non-religious) views, and I hope you respect mine ..."

this seems to be the most common misconception with religious people.

Why should someone's religion, which is a chosen mindset, be respected? You might say religion, or belief, is a virtue. But it isn't. It's just what you chose to pursue, it might as well be communism, nudism, music or football.

We should respect each other for what we are, if we deserve it. Or for what we do. But not for what we believe. We have to give everyone the right to believe what they want, but we do not have to respect their view.

Regarding religion. This would deserve still less respect, as it is only a kind of obsolete superstition, no matter how much it is still part of the social tradition in the USA.

An adult person talking to and sharing her live with a fictive, invisible man is not the most typical reason for feeling respect...'re free to tell me that I will burn in hell, or spend eternity in the cold, far away from our heavenly father.

This I know already.

In case I get banned now, It's been a pleasure to share this forum!

July 16, 2013 at 08:21 PM · Greetings,

She`s only not talking to you because you are grumpy,



July 16, 2013 at 08:29 PM · Have you been talking to my lady?

July 16, 2013 at 09:01 PM · ah, we share the same domestic trauma.



Founder in Chief of the nude communist society.

July 16, 2013 at 09:46 PM · oh, it was sincere, alright - i'd really, really like to hear how the whole "sky-god-calls-all-the-shots" thing works ... but not here, please.

"nude communist society?!" - you mean ... no muumuus or funny hats!?

July 16, 2013 at 10:03 PM · BRAVO!!!! Alicia! I salute you for not being offended by the ludicrous and inconsiderate comments. There will always be scoffers and unbelievers; Jesus does not need us to defend Him or His Word, He is perfectly capable of doing that Himself.

I hope you will sometime check out Maurice Sklar's testimony on Youtube.

God bless and keep you, Alicia.

July 16, 2013 at 10:04 PM · Finally,

I get the last word.

Truly another of God's Divine Miracles,



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