Opinions on Lindsey Stirling

June 26, 2014 at 04:07 AM · I first saw Lindsey Stirling a couple of years ago on America's Got Talent. She made it through a couple of rounds, but was eliminated. Since then, she has gone on tour and released her own CD.

Last night, I took my 12 year old son to see her in concert. I must say, she has become somewhat of a superstar. It was a sold out concert, standing room only, and the line to get in wrapped completely around the block. I spoke to a number of people in line and during the concert and none of them were violinists, but they were clearly head over heals over her. Here is a vid of her song "Shatter Me."

My 12 year old is crazy about her and can play most of her songs. Half of his practice time is devoted to playing along with her youtube videos. I was wondering, how many of you "violinists" have heard of her and what do you think of her music?

[Edit] I just realized that Laurie did a recent poll on Lindsey Stirling. So I guess that sort of answers my question. At any rate, I would be interested in hearing other opinions on her.

Replies (28)

June 26, 2014 at 06:16 AM · I like her as a performer and and artist and like the fact that she's promoting violin in a different way. BUT if you go to her live performances, there's a lot of intonation problems and stuff.

June 26, 2014 at 04:42 PM · Since I'm not a big fan of dubstep I don't like a lot of Lindsey Stirling's songs, but I admire the way she's bringing violin music to a younger demographic. I am a fan of video game music so I gravitate more towards her videos in that regard, although I'm more of a Taylor Davis fan for that genre.

I think Strings magazine had an interview with Stirling a year or two ago.

June 26, 2014 at 08:12 PM · I don't think violin is as suited to pop or rock as cello, to be honest. It tends to sound too "fiddly," kinda country, folksy. Which some people like; I get it. Not my cup of tea.

And I don't like that she dances so much in her videos. Yeah, it's part of her thing. Again, not my cup of tea.

I prefer 2cellos and The Piano Guys.

June 26, 2014 at 08:37 PM · I admire that she has pretty much created her own genre, especially after being told she wouldn't amount t to much by that judge on AGT.

Not really my style of music, but she is entertaining. And she uses her talent and charisma not just tawdry sex appeal to reach out to her audience.

June 26, 2014 at 09:01 PM · She is a mediocre amateur violinist but a marketing genius.

June 26, 2014 at 09:25 PM · Mary Ellen,

What is the definition of amateur? Seems you are applying it to her ability level. But, I would guess that she made more money in that one concert than most 'pros' make in an entire year.

I define pro as anyone that earns a living doing something. So even though she may not be up to certain standards from a technical level, she is still a pro because that is what she does for a living.

I agree with you on "marketing genius."

June 26, 2014 at 11:21 PM · As I've said before, not to my taste (but I have a very narrow range of musical tastes to begin with, lol)...however I see her appeal with pre-teens and teens...and must say, it's preferable to a lot of the material that is out there.

I think it's nice that a violin is featured...it will keep interest in the instrument alive in a younger generation...

...and so what if it's not virtuosic tried and true classical repertoire...does it all have to be? If classical music is allegedly on its deathbed...seen by the general population as staid, stuffy and stodgy...I'd think that supporters of classical music would/should be open to any musical tangents/offshoots that help keep interest in the genre alive and current.

June 26, 2014 at 11:32 PM · We did see a number of younger teens at the concert, but the crowd was predominantly young adults (18-30). I have no idea, but I would guess that less than 10% of them would spend money on a classical music concert. No offense to classical musicians, but that was my general read on the crowd. It was a tame, but kind of hip crowd. Plenty of drinking going on, but no drunks as far as I could tell. I felt completely safe taking my 12 year old, even though it was a nightclub scene with booze.

June 26, 2014 at 11:39 PM · Interesting that older young adults are the main group...but good news nonetheless! :D

June 27, 2014 at 01:18 AM · I like her style, variety is the spice of life...oh, and Im 50 years old

June 27, 2014 at 03:05 PM · Stirling created her own genre, good for her. But did we really need another completely intellectually barren genre?

I watched Stirling's video "Crystallize" which is supposed to be among her best work. I found it bland and redundant. All of the melodic movement follows essentially pentatonic-type scale over a four-chord progression, the variations are very predictable. The synthesizer background uses the kind of devices that we were hearing in 1980. How many times can you hear the same exact filter sweep before you get tired of it? The video is five minutes of Stirling herself, gyrating her way through an ice castle but the lighting and videography are terrible. There just isn't any artistic content or even technical sparkle in her work. "Crystallize" is the music video equivalent of a Swanson dinner.

June 27, 2014 at 03:13 PM · Well...sometimes one is in the mood for meat and potatoes...and other times all one wants to eat is dessert...

When I come home from spending a day at work thinking (and often with a headache)...I don't want to relax with War and Peace...I'd rather pick up a write-by-numbers popular fiction...

June 27, 2014 at 05:35 PM · I understand the sentiment, but if I had my choice of desserts, it would be a well-made creme brulee, not a Twinkie.

June 27, 2014 at 05:37 PM · I like that she makes the sheet music available and that it is at a level that many students can play.

I admire how she has made a career for herself and gets younger people interested in the violin. I heard of her because high school and middle school age people told me about her.

June 28, 2014 at 10:53 AM · I think we may be in danger of appearing a bit too elitist here.

I thought it was very entertaining, a lot of fun, and it promoted the violin in a small way.

OK, I wouldn't want to buy a ticket for a concert, but then I buy very few tickets anyway for boring old classical music concerts. I haven't been to one for over 18 months. Few classical players can tempt me.

Let's say that good inovation is good.

June 29, 2014 at 09:10 PM · My 14-yo daughter told me about Lindsey Stirling. She also told me about, and had me listen to, a number of other groups/bands: Fallout Boy, Panic! at the Disco, Hoodie Allen, Vampire Weekend. I've listened to all of them and been entertained and educated.

I like the fact that Stirling makes violin music accessible to more "normal" or "average" teens. It's an age when they are exploring and trying to find their own way, which often means breaking away, at least temporarily, from what adults want them to do. And music is often a vehicle for this exploration and individuation.

The weight of history behind the classical violin repertoire means that virtually no teenager these days is going to be able to take, say, the Mendelssohn violin concerto and make it his or her own--not even the vanishingly small percentage of teens who have the technical skills to be able to play it well. Adults have not only already heard this piece a million times (and heard it played by masters), they've already played it a million times themselves. This isn't to say there aren't vast and subtle pleasures to be found in the Mendelssohn violin concerto, just that its potential for being part of an adolescent quest for identity and autonomy may be limited for today's young people.

In contrast, rock music seems to be able to fulfill that role for many more young people with ambition and talent. People still start bands in their garages with friends and become successful at making rock music. You don't have to start at age 4, have highly organized, connected, and supportive parents, and have all the right teachers to become a rock star, either. Stirling has been able to follow that more forgiving path and show young people that it too can lead to success on the violin. I think that's worth a lot.

June 29, 2014 at 11:20 PM · Thanks for all the feedback. Since I started this thread, here's my 2 cents.

For those that are judging her based on virtuoso content, it doesn't exist, so no wonder you are disappointed. But, you might also be missing the point IMO.

As Karen very eloquently put it, Lindsey Stirling brings violin to the masses. If you think about your non-musician acquaintances, how many of them would buy tickets to see a classical violinist? If your acquaintances are anything like mine, I'll bet the answer is "not very many."

But last week, I was standing in a line that wrapped completely around the block with people wanting to see a violinist in concert. How cool is that? Okay, there was no Tchaikovsky or Paganini, but it was a violinist and that is just awesome in my book.

I actually found her performance very entertaining. They did a lot with lights, and laser beams, and she danced in step with a couple of backup dancers while she played. I don't find her dancing mesmerizing like Michael Jackson, but it is her own style and is certainly fun to watch.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit, but I have fallen asleep in some classical music performances, but there was nothing sleepy about Stirling's performance. I only wish I had brought a pair of ear plugs, because it was LOUD. But there was so much excitement in the crowd that the cheering was even more deafening than the music itself.

If you watch any of Stirling's youtube videos, you get the sense that she is a very caring and genuine person. That, I believe, is an additional reason for her incredible popularity. Her grandmother had died a week before the performance and she said a few words about her that almost brought tears to my eyes -- it was very touching.

I don't know if Stirling's popularity will continue to grow or if this is more of a passing fad, but I certainly wish her the best. And whether you like her or not, I think she is good for the violin. All I can say is, "you go girl!"

June 30, 2014 at 07:20 AM · I'm just impressed by anyone who can play the violin while en pointe!

June 30, 2014 at 11:27 AM · She is awesome. Does a great job of taking pieces and making them her own. Her attempt at he own original music is very good - Spontaneous me. She's made contact with the younger community through her divergence in playing violin. I love classical pieces and the refinement that great players add to them, the same goes to our celtic players and so forth but Miss Stirling adds to the beauty of music and our special instrument. Loved her in concert here in Sydney. It was amazing to see how many young people were at the concert. If she would have said, "is there anybody out there that can help me play a tune on a violin" I could say without a doubt that half of the people in the audience could have hopped on stage to help her out. That my friends is an inspiring person.

July 1, 2014 at 04:49 AM · I watched her when I was cruising through music videos on YouTube with my kids. I agree that her playing is intermediate, music mediocre, video quality no better than average BUT she had a lot of people viewing her. From the sounds of it she has a lot of performance appeal. I talked to one parent who was taking her daughter, who plays violin, to a concert that was six hours away!

When I looked up classical music videos on YouTube all I found besides Stirling was a flash mob video of Ode to Joy by the Detroit Symphony.

Classical music is the underpinning of most video; but it is totally lacking in modern advertising....music videos.

Instead of moaning about the lack of sophistication of younger audiences, classical music needs to start "putting on a show". Lights, dance, images on big screens..... The Legend of Zelda is being played by major orchestras and sells out weeks in advance.

I'm not talking about the performers dancing around,acting etc; but something visual beyond concert black.

What Lindsey Stirling says is there is a market for classical music in a different package.

July 1, 2014 at 01:48 PM · "I'm not talking about the performers dancing around,acting etc; but something visual beyond concert black. "

Well, here's something visual. Note, the cellist is classically trained. She was just featured in People magazine as one of the sexy celebrities of 2014.

Here's more on the skivvies

July 2, 2014 at 10:56 AM · Hi Smiley and Sharon. I hear what both of you are saying. I disagree that Lindsey is mediocre. (Perhaps biasedly). She plays to her style of music. She plays to her audience. She has always been critcised. They told her that there was no place for someone who bops arounds and still manages to crank out a tune, that she is mediocre. And yet I see Shannon Corr hardly ever leaving 1st position when she played with The Corrs and yet I love listening to her too! Perhaps you are viewing things differently to me. Musicians are entertainers who express themselves through their music. You are comparing a Concert Soloist to a player of popular music. Would you compare someone in a concert playing Vivaldi to Someone Playing an Irish Jig. The music is different and delivered differently.

But Lindsey done so with energy and feeling. You see it, hear it and feel it. She does not play alone, she performs. And if her performance leads to gainin interest in violin playing amoungst the younger generation ... regardless of the Genre ... then that's a wonderful thing.

July 2, 2014 at 05:39 PM · One thing I saw upon re-reading the original post is that Smiley's son plays along with the youtube. That's a very positive thing, regardless of what the music is, because eventually when he joins an orchestra or a chamber group, that is a real fun way to practice one's part! The biggest problem usually is the tempo (for example, the pros all play the Brandenburg Concertos way too fast).

Back to Stirling, unless it's going to be "all about the show", then maybe some comparisons to some other violinists would be useful. How many of you who have listened to Stirling have also heard:

Jean-Luc Ponty's album "Cosmic Messenger"

Noel Pointer's album "Phantazia"

Didier Lockwood's album "Storyboard"

These albums are fairly representative of what these guys were doing back in the day, in my opinion. What do you think? Are they more musical, original, pioneering, interesting, etc., compared to Stirling, or less? I know what I think...

July 5, 2014 at 09:43 AM · A few years ago I spotted this sassy kid who'd just posted her first video on YouTube. I dropped her a comment saying: hey - you've got something here - you could go far with this. If only I'd known...

July 5, 2014 at 08:44 PM · Paul - I hate to break it to you but there's more than one genre of popular music!

People like Pointer and Lockwood are heavyweight jazz musicians. So of course their music is more original and challenging.

Comparing Lockwood to Stirling makes about as much sense as comparing J S Bach to Alberto Semprini.

Stirling is playing pop. It doesn't pretend to be creative or original - it's aimed at entertaining. Her music may not be for us, but in its own terms I think it's rather good. It seems to be giving a lot of people pleasure, and I, for one, wish her every success.

July 5, 2014 at 11:44 PM · Geoff, there are a lot of pop musicians who aren't nearly as redundant, derivative, and uninteresting. McDonald's is popular, even though what they're selling hardly even qualifies as food.

July 6, 2014 at 01:05 PM · Paul - you're clearly drawn to innovation and imagination in music, but I think you're in a minority. Most people prefer the safe and familiar - just look at the programming of most classical concerts. Most pop artists stick to a formula because that's what works commercially. When they start to innovate, they often lose their audience. It's perfectly reasonable for you to say that you aren't drawn to her music, but you're hardly the audience she's aiming to attract. She's clearly good enough at what she does to give pleasure to a large number of people. She is, by all accounts, a decent person. And she's forged her own way, without being manufactured by some impresario. So all power to her, I say...

July 6, 2014 at 11:09 PM · Geoff, yes, I agree with you entirely.

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