Why Play the Violin?

September 27, 2015 at 11:40 PM · Why do people play the violin? After quitting the violin after 8 years, I felt as thought I had completely and utterly wasted my time with the instrument, which led me to pose the question as to why do people play the violin at all? And why did I start playing the violin? Even though I could become a professional musician if I wanted to, there is not a moment in my life when I was as happy as when I quit the violin. I absolutely hated having to go through the physical labor of practicing only to feel as though I wish I was playing another instrument (And even if I did switch instruments, I would want to switch again and again, because I am not a person who can express themselves through only one median with the same instrument over and over again)

Playing the violin is honestly physical labor, because honestly, if one gets good headphones, it truly does not matter whether a person is really holding the instrument in their hand. And even if a person feels as though somehow they must have the violin in their hands, isn't it absolutely terrible to think about that musicians usually just focus on one instrument? It is just so limiting. Imagine an artist who only paints in the color red. Sure it can be nice to paint in red, but it is terrible that that artist limits themselves so much when they could be doing more. And even then, musicians usually simply recite music which is hundreds of years old. If they truly are using music to express themselves, then why do most people simply copy and recite mozarts music for example over and over? It isn't really expressing oneself when you simply redo what someone else made. I really want insight as to why people actually play the violin, because I felt glad when I threw my violin into the garbage.

Replies

September 27, 2015 at 11:48 PM · Helter skeltor, eh, Charles?

September 28, 2015 at 12:11 AM · Well...

The violn is not a one tone puppy, because we use bow speed, weight and contact point to alter the tone. Aded to that we have vibrato, double and multiple stops for interest and special effects like sul ponticello, sul tasto, and harmonics.

If playing the instrument felt like chore,maybe you needed a better instrument or bow perhaps?

I recently got a bow that suits the instrument I am using quite a bit better (and is just better in general), so my playing sounds noticeably better.

Also, I don't know if its a joke or trolling or whatnot or if its your real name, but please DON'T post questions that are demoralizing for no good reason, we don't need that here, Mr. Manson. :)

September 28, 2015 at 12:20 AM · Eight years is a long time to play an instrument one does not like.

September 28, 2015 at 12:48 AM · Just curious - if you dislike the violin so much, then why are you on Violinist.com?

September 28, 2015 at 01:22 AM · Even for a visual artist who only paints red, there are infinite number of shades of red if the painter is skilled enough. I mean, there are so much great black and white photography, paintings.

I honestly think you're too narrow-minded to criticize violins. Nor do I think you were skilled enough to appreciate its beauty. I personally dislike Mozart. I prefer Paganini, Bach and I compose my own from time to time, which I find often unplayable at my skill level.

If you think music is about notes being played at right rhythm, I am often polite with many people, but I think you would make a great AI.

That aside, I play violins because it helps me to relax physically, mentally and emotionally, and my PTSD from military services has dissipated since I've been playing. I've also been able to improve range of motion in both shoulders(two surgeries on left).

September 28, 2015 at 02:11 AM · The punch line is that he wants to know whether he still has a chance to get into a top conservatory.

September 28, 2015 at 02:24 AM · Why does one play the violin? For the same reason one plays the tuba, or the cello, the piano, or singing, or any artistic activity one might take upon: The answer is as varied as people themselves!

Some might play it because it earns them money. Others because their parents make them play. Others simply because of the pleasure they feel from it. And there are countless more reasons out there.

No instrument, no art is 'one-size-fits-all'. No activity will give the exact same feeling to every single person who does it. Heck, even things we are programmed by nature to like or dislike, there are people out there who feel the opposite towards it! So why play the violin? Because some people like it!

Originality has nothing to do with expression. A person can express themselves by inventing something completely new, or by performing something created by others, regardless of how old or new such thing is.

September 28, 2015 at 03:37 AM · Do we know just how many folks "burn out" after eight years? What was played and how?

September 28, 2015 at 05:25 AM · I play the violin because of the following reasons (in no particular order):

1) I hate electric instruments.

2) The violin has the most beautiful, silvery, full singing tone that's rich in shades and colors.

3) The violin repertoire is bigger than the Clarinet (Another favourite). All the great composers wrote lots of beautiful music for it.

4) The violin is more portable than a piano (my favouritest).

5) No sound system in the world sounds as good as my violin. Especially not the ones I can afford.

6) I get to express myself, be creative and artist.

7) Making music brings me great joy and helps me appreciate listening to music more.

8) Playing develops my ear (see no. 7).

September 28, 2015 at 05:28 AM · No I'm just kidding I play only to pick up chicks.

September 28, 2015 at 07:33 AM · For most of my life I have *not* played the violin.

I played it between the ages of ten and fifteen, when my parents took advantage of a local education committee scheme to provide cheap fiddles and free lessons in school. If I had said I wanted to go horse-riding like my sisters, they wouldn't have insisted. To start off with, I loved my violin, but then got into the terrible teens and couldn't be bothered.

I played it for a few months at the age of thirty because I am a folk dancer. I loved it, but had to give up soon after because of career demands.

I have now been playing it for nearly four years after I took it up again in retirement. And it has taken over my life.

Why do I play the violin?

a) Because I want to make reparation to myself for giving it up before for silly reasons.

b) Because I love the sound of a fiddle - rather than a violin. It is so expressive.

c) If I was playing classical music, I would not persevere. I would be happy to listen to violinists playing without feeling the need to do it myself. But folk music, and particularly Scottish folk music, is 'who I am', and I never feel so completely myself as when I am playing. If I'm playing Scottish tunes on my own and it's going well I feel as if I am in heaven.

Violins have souls. My fiddle is my soul-mate. I will never give up the violin again.

September 28, 2015 at 10:01 AM · I often ask myself the same question.

Why did I ever start playing such a difficult instrument like the violin?

It has been a labour of love all my life and I cannot imagine myself being without it.

Sometimes it drives you crazy and sometimes things work so nicely you want to hug it.

I remember all the hours of solitary work that went into learning and I ask myself. Would I do it again?

The answer is a resounding YES, but this time round I'll choose better teachers.

September 28, 2015 at 10:15 AM · I play violin because it is easier than piano.

September 28, 2015 at 10:26 AM · "I play violin because it is easier than piano."

Me too.

September 28, 2015 at 11:15 AM · I'm with Lily. The question is puzzling in this context.

September 28, 2015 at 11:40 AM · The red violin rose from the grave, perhaps yours will rise from the trash can.

September 28, 2015 at 11:50 AM · Charles, perhaps the deeper question you must ask is not "why play the violin?", but rather, "why even bother getting out of bed in the morning?"

You know that sense of relief you had throwing your violin in the trash? Just imagine the giddy feeling you will have when you toss that annoying alarm clock in the hopper!

Think about it rationally for a minute: you get out of bed, eat, work, whatever...but eventually you simply end up back in bed at the end of the day anyhow, so why not cut out all of the extraneous stuff and simply stay in bed all day?

So, tomorrow is a new day, I suggest when morning dawns, you roll over, pull the sheets up over your head and bask in the knowledge that you have overcome all by not even bothering to try!

September 28, 2015 at 11:59 AM · This absolutely has to be a troll post. That said I’d still like to answer, strictly as an exercise. Item – Real people, not androids posing as people (which I suspect you are), have a few things that clearly identify them as real people (not androids). I am referring to empathy and passion. First, a real person has empathy; the basic definition being the ability to psychologically identify with another person. That is, the ability to experience the thoughts, feelings, and emotions of another individual. Now I know this concept must seem quite foreign to an android but I assure you, it is real. This is why, in part, people enjoy playing music written by other people. When a person plays Mozart, part of the satisfaction comes from feeling the fervor, the emotion the composer put into the piece. In a way, one can almost discern the mood and feelings of the composer when the piece was actualized, simply by playing the piece. As an android, this particular facet of playing would have no use to you whatsoever and by design you are in fact incapable of understanding it, whether you want to or not. The only satisfaction you would receive from playing is the technical achievement.

Which brings me to another strictly human feature; Passion – an intense or compelling feeling or emotion. If you were to ask Jimmy Hendrix, Buddy Rich, or Jascha Heifetz if they felt limited by playing one instrument I can guarantee what their answer would be. This is because they had passion. An urge to connect to their instrument, to become the best they could, to express themselves in a way few others can. You are too limited in your views as is the fault of your programming. Playing one instrument is not like painting with one color. The instrument is the medium and the notes, dynamics, ornamentations, ect are the colors through which fantastic masterpieces are painted.

September 28, 2015 at 12:08 PM · Charles,

There are obviously two items you did not properly look into, that would have captivated your desire for the violin:

#1- A shoulder rest (or lack thereof)

#2- the proper rosin.

These two items probably wouldn't have helped any with your actual playing, but the rabid vitriol with which you could have argued endlessly about either of these two items would have undoubtedly added alot of smug satisfaction to your overall Worldview.

Just check the archives here at vcom; without shoulder rests and rosin debates the forum would be dead and gone.

September 28, 2015 at 02:41 PM · Ouch! I think I cut myself on your edginess.

September 28, 2015 at 03:30 PM · This is the weirdest posting I have ever seen. So it took you 8 years to decide you did not like the violin ? Just because you did not like it does not mean others are not permitted to like it.

September 28, 2015 at 03:43 PM · Seraphim, you give me a great idea! I wonder if anybody ever tried finding the proper rosin to use on their shoulder rest to keep it from slipping! I'm going to start a post about it, where we can discuss the various types of shoulder rests and the best rosins for it! ;)

September 28, 2015 at 03:58 PM · Well, if one enters a biker's bar and says that all motorcycles suck, trolling would be the least expected reaction from the angry crowd!

Let us be friendly, as we always are and do not take this as an attack toward our preciousness instrument and, to some of us, a significant part of a meaningful life.

The OP asked about the motivation, and, just like in any human activity, there is as many motives as there are violinists.

What are yours?

I really agree with statement on a T-shirt:

"without music, life would b-flat!"

huh... really itching to ask: why play viola?

3,2,1

September 28, 2015 at 04:16 PM · "why play viola" it's easier than violin.

Giving a response about why the violin in particular is simply because that's what I started with. I love the timbre of the violin family and would be just as happy playing the viola or cello but I started on the violin and I have no reason to change to one of the others.

September 28, 2015 at 04:31 PM · "Why play the viola?"

Because it sounds nicer than the violin....

8^p

September 28, 2015 at 04:55 PM · I do also believe this is a troll post, but I also think it's a great question. We all play for different reasons, but at the end of the day, it's because we love it, for a myriad of reasons.

Personally, I think it's an OCD thing. I love experimenting with the violin, and learning about what one needs to do physically to play well, whether that is for me or my students. The practice room, and the teaching room, is always a laboratory, with knowledge gained in each experience. I find it to be exciting. I guess I'm a total violin dork.

Violin repertoire is so beautiful, and so much fun to play.

Yes, it is a workout. I think you burn around 150 calories an hour playing. That's not too bad!

I'm also a painter, and red is my favorite color. Maybe I'll do my next painting all in different shades of red, and post a link on here. :) In regard to color, though, the things we do with the instrument are what create all the different colors: bow speed and pressure, point of contact, all the different types and uses of vibrato, etc.

Maybe violin just isn't your bag. I'm not a huge fan of flute or clarinet, so I probably shouldn't play those instruments, but my colleagues who DO play them sound amazing, because THEY love those instruments. Every person is different.

If you want to play a bunch of different instruments, and this makes you happy, then by all means, no one is going to stop you. However, it's hard to get really good at something when you have your eggs spread out in too many baskets. There is nothing more discouraging than performing an instrument poorly because you don't put the time and practice in.

Finally, I hope you didn't literally throw your violin away. They can be donated to schools for underprivileged children to play on.

September 28, 2015 at 05:33 PM · Why? The glamorous life toiling away for hours unimpeded by social media or other people distractions of any kind. Bliss. :-) I'm back to it now ...

September 28, 2015 at 05:47 PM · This reminds me of a time how many of my colleagues and neighbours think I'm insane, and asexual because I turn down dates and "opportunities", to return to my lab or the basement(with my violin). Seriously, if I have the free time, I want to spend it with my yet nameless violin.

September 28, 2015 at 07:41 PM · One of the things that drives me to play is the challenge of getting a good tone.

Sort of like hitting a golf ball "just right", or a tennis shot---when you hit a note just right, and pull a nice, full sound, it is a very satisfying feeling. And it also punishes you when you don't have things "right", so there is an immediate feedback loop that requires mental focus, muscular training and coordination. When done correctly, endorphins are released and a feeling of joy and solace pervades your whole being.

September 28, 2015 at 07:50 PM · Why do artists create anything when they could just go to an art museum and look at other people's work? Why bother writing a play when Shakespeare already exists? Why bother acting when countless others have done it for generations? Read a philosophy book if you can't understand why humans feel the need to experience, create and enjoy art (of any kind). You are trolling admit it!

September 28, 2015 at 08:02 PM · let's put it this way, why not just watch videos, documentaries, and look at photos instead of traveling?

I honestly do not think you should be allowed to make any statements with your immature attitude towards anything. Also, get checked for Asperger's

September 28, 2015 at 08:41 PM · "Why do artists create anything when they could just go to an art museum and look at other people's work? Why bother writing a play when Shakespeare already exists? Why bother acting when countless others have done it for generations? Read a philosophy book if you can't understand why humans feel the need to experience, create and enjoy art (of any kind). You are trolling admit it! "

Well there are many reasons as to why it is important. Those pieces of culture can actually be enjoyed and appreciated for their deeper meaning. Whereas playing the same piece of music over and over again even though there is almost always a better recorded version that you can listen online. It is different from for example art, where the main purpose is to create your own pieces of unique art, whereas the main part of playing the violin is to play famous composers like mozart and the sort.

September 28, 2015 at 08:45 PM · And travelling is different, because you get your own unique experience that nobody else can feel, whereas with music, you just repeat music made by someone else.

September 28, 2015 at 10:16 PM · Why do anything at all? I enjoy fishing, but my wife doesn't care for it. She likes shopping, I'd rather jab knitting needles in my eye sockets. We do things that bring us enjoyment. Different people enjoy different things. Violin just isn't your thing.

September 28, 2015 at 11:11 PM · Well, get into composition then. What's stopping you from creating your own violin music ? Or jazz improvisation : make something different every time you play.

The reason I learn the violin is that it helps me to understand how difficult it is to play this instrument well and I appreciate the music much more when I listen to somebody else play it. Learning the violin gives me a bit of an insight into the world of musicians.....just a little !

September 28, 2015 at 11:26 PM · I don't think that traveling is actually that different than playing a piece in this analogy. Just because you're playing something that someone else wrote doesn't mean that you have the same experience as them. Each musician gets something different out of a piece of music. Music is not just notes on a page, it's what the musician brings to it, and therefore a highly individual thing.

September 28, 2015 at 11:49 PM · Of course I can listen to recordings of music that are of much higher quality than I can play. But it is rewarding to me to play a piece myself, to the best of my ability, even though I'm far from a virtuoso. I learn so much more about a piece of music from attempting to play it, rather than just listening to it.

And if you don't mind me asking...Why did you start playing the violin? Was it your choice or were you forced? Were your teachers encouraging or harsh? There's nothing wrong with deciding to stop doing something you don't like, but I don't understand throwing a $2000 instrument in the trash when you could presumably have sold it. Why so angry? Why come to a violin message board years later to talk about how glad you were to quit violin? I don't mean to attack you; I'm truly curious about your reasoning.

September 29, 2015 at 01:53 AM · "Well I apologize for the name, I am not from the US, so when I was signing up I picked Charles and when I thought of a last name somehow Manson came about (Maybe because I saw a documentary about him a long time ago). Only did I realize now that it is the name of a mass murderer! Sorry!"

I flagged your post. You have to use your real name when you register on this site. The editor will hopefully close your account.

September 29, 2015 at 02:15 AM · While it is fair to assume that the thread may be trolling, maybe this individual is being honest, after some strong disillusionment with the process of learning the violin.

In any case, the answer is LOVE; if you rather listen to the recordings, it's fine. You can ALSO enjoy both recordings and playing too anyway. But if you don't play it for its own sake, you may as well quit, because playing it for "useful" purposes-as defined by society, and not that I agree-is not "worth it", as the OP seems to put it.

The question os also relevant, because even Professionals at times put down the value of violin learning if not done at "their level." Another issue, but many players struggle when faced with opinionated teachers of that persuassion. Let everyone be taught the violin WELL, whether they have a "professional future" or just because they absolutely can't live without making great music with their beloved instrument.

No offense meant with the above comment-please ignore if it does unfortunately offend in any way.

The violin is worth studying and playing becuase of what it is and represents to each individual-if it means nothing to you, or lacks any "practical value", leave it and just do what you love rather than put down that which you cannot comprehend.

September 29, 2015 at 09:45 AM · Oh well I hope he doesn't close it down :( I want to continue this conversation. I don't think that many people understand what I am saying still. I think that all forms of culture are good, such as art, dance, architecture and music, I am just focusing as to why someone would want to keep repeating music that has been already recorded by a probably much better violinist. The main purpose of the violin is to hear it's music. Yet you can already hear it's music online. I mean the only way that I understand that any use of the violin can come about is only if a person composes their own music, which practically nobody does.

I began the violin simply because I wanted to, yet going in 2 years I desperately wanted to quit! But I dragged on because everybody said that that feeling will go away if I practice some more and become better. So I did, I became very proficient with the violin, but I still found it a waste of time because I just could listen to the same music without the enormous amount of time needed by simply downloading a high quality recording and using good headphones. I mean so far I haven't seen a single good answer, because the only answer is playing the violin for the sake of playing the violin. Which is exactly why I did destroy my violin as I did not want anyone else to pursue the violin.

Maybe I just feel angry for wasting my time and am hoping that someone convinces me that it was not all a complete waste of time.

September 29, 2015 at 09:55 AM · Listening to the violin and playing it is a different ball game. When you listen you are on the passive end, while playing the same piece puts you in control. Try to play the same piece as well as the recordings you are listening to if you can. That's a challenge for you.If you can't it doesn't mean the player is a better human being than you, they just love the violin so much more than you, to put in the time and effort to perfect their interpretation.

September 29, 2015 at 11:19 AM · There's a blog article posted yesterday that addresses your issue, about wanting to play but not liking to practice. Of course, the blogger writes about children, not adults, but maybe it still applies.

and if Laurie does close your account (which might not be a bad idea, given your chosen pseudonym) you could perhaps open more openly as yourself. Transparency is valuable in conversations.

September 29, 2015 at 12:08 PM · Sorry - I deleted my previous post & after several attempts have come up with my last word on the subject.

If you have destroyed a musical instrument, valuable or not, then I am just not on the same wavelength as you, so what would be the point of discussion.

If you haven't really destroyed your violin, I'd be relieved, but your OP wouldn't be honest, so what would be the point of discussion.

No learning is ever wasted; but if you were playing the violin only for competitive reasons & not because you loved the music, then you made the right decision.

Best wishes for the future.

September 29, 2015 at 12:12 PM · "Whereas playing the same piece of music over and over again even though there is almost always a better recorded version that you can listen online. It is different from for example art, where the main purpose is to create your own pieces of unique art..."

By this logic there is no point to performing any play written ever because you can find a professional or "better" quality version of it online. If you are going to use this argument for violin you must agree that it extends to other mediums. Why would numerous theater guilds perform Shakespeare over and over when you can watch a version of the SAME play online, performed at the Globe. If you don't think your argument applies to other mediums of art than your "logic" is flawed. On a side note, I don't believe for a second that you accidentally came up with that name with zero awareness of its connotations.

September 29, 2015 at 01:33 PM · Look at it this way: You didn't waste your time learning to play the violin, you only took 8 years to figure out it wasn't your cup of tea. Some people try it and put it down right away, others keep on going for quite a while before they quit.

If you did smash a valuable instrument in a fit of selfish rage like it was nothing, it already shows you are prone to bad decisions, so taking 8 years to stop doing something you didn't like doesn't come as a surprise.

Simply accept that people are different and what pleases others might not necessarily please you, and that's how the world works. If you can't grasp that concept, see a psychiatrist, they can help a lot more than online forums can.

September 29, 2015 at 02:58 PM · Further, one needs not justify their choices based on a consensus. No need to expect others to follow suit in a "violin destruction revolution", as if your personal feelings on the issue were absolute and correct for everybody else. In that regards, the poor violin paid an unnecessary price due to your lack of tolerance for other people's views and life styles.

Again, I feel your overly "pragmatic" (though I would beg to differ) approach to violin music making is very dangerous/unhealthy, because it nullifies the worth of proper musical education at all levels. I would even go further and state that's wrong and more, illogical, yet believe it or not, MANY people have this idea that it's not worth doing anything based on its intrinsic value if it's not "productive ", whatever they mean with that ($$$, "no one will play better than Heifetz, so why try?", hackneyed classical works, etc.)

It is also an insult to the many fine concert violinists that still play to this day, not like Heifetz, but like themselves, while serving the music and its composers. One could have a favorite recording, but it doesn't make the other versions "null and void"; there's much to learn by appreciating what each individual performer brings to the musical table, whether it's Mozart or Reger.

September 29, 2015 at 03:09 PM · "The main purpose of the violin is to hear it's music" etc.

The purpose of the violin is to communicate our personal response to the music we choose.

- We can just enjoy hearing it (passive).

- We can enjoy playing it (participative and communicative): to say "I love you" we don't use a recording of a famous actor to say it for us!

- We can enjoy playing it as well as possible to share it as best as possible (not to prove something).

September 29, 2015 at 03:56 PM · There is a world of difference between listening to a piece through your headphones and learning and performing a piece yourself (and attending a live performance as an audience member, for that matter).

For the player, learning a piece is like taking a journey – sometimes a lengthy and challenging one – that brings you closer to the work in a way that simply listening to it cannot. Learning a piece by Bach, for instance, is like traveling back through time to Bach himself and his culture and experiencing it for yourself.

But that’s not all. There is another journey. Players are interpretive artists, but this does not make them less worthy than composing artists. Musicians are not drones simply playing notes someone else has written; they are “creating.” Most people seem to grasp this when it comes to actors. While it’s true that “if it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage,” what an actor brings to a role is enormously important – crucial even. So while we call acting interpretive, the actor is engaging in a profound creative act. It is as much bringing the playwright’s words to life as it is a legitimate creative act of artistic self-expression. This is obvious. A performance brings together writer, actor, and audience in a unique and powerful way, and particularly when it’s a live performance.

The same is true for musicians. So to the journey back in time to a composer and a long-gone place (if it’s an older work, of course), we can add a more personal journey because, like the actor, a musician is also engaging in personal exploration and artistic self-expression. No, they didn’t write the notes, but bringing a piece of music to life is about SO much more than the notes on the page, and the opportunities for interpretation and expression are great indeed – as varied and numerous as the players performing these pieces. So it’s not, as you say, about trying to play a piece and falling short of the greats (and so why do it at all), because there is no definitive interpretation of a piece, really; there is always a reason to approach a new piece and bring it to life with your own personal voice.

I believe those different journeys – a personal journey of self-exploration and realization, an historical journey that connects in an intimate musical way with a composer and a place and time, and the “journey” that is the live performance that connects both of those things to a listening audience – are worthwhile.

September 29, 2015 at 04:10 PM · I also like the sound of a violin rather than the sound of a recording. Don't get me wrong I listen to recordings but it isn't the same quality of hearing the actual thing. Why go to see the local orchestra if there is a recording of the NY Phil doing it (arguably) better? Because of the sound. Not to mention that one is creating while the other one is consuming.

EDIT: This is clearly a troll and I would suggest not responding to him. If he was serious he would have used his real name, let alone avoid a controversial one.

September 29, 2015 at 07:02 PM · My real name is Josh East, I didn't know we had to use a real one. Happy now? I honestly do feel this way but am slightly seeing the other point of view. Still somewhat hard for me to comprehend it.

September 29, 2015 at 07:49 PM · Alright, I believe you are sincere. Sorry about my previous response.

Looking at anything from such a pragmatic view as yours will make most things seem pointless especially something as interpretive as an art. I don't think your issue is why play violin, it seems more like why play composed works, do you view those who primarily do improv as fruitless as those who read sheet music?

Frankly (and don't intend to be offensive with this remark) I think you won't find the answer you are looking for as it requires ones own reason to give it meaning.

Again, going from a pragmatic point of view it wasn't wasted time. The reflexes and mental processes you have gained and strengthened is something you can carry with you throughout your life.

A word of suggestion, you will get a better response if you are respectful. You are pretty dismissive to those who respond to you and while you don't have to agree with what they say, at least do so in a way that shows that you appreciate the time and thought they took to respond to your post.

EDIT: I assume Josh did not literally throw his violin in the trash, but was using that phrase as a metaphor for giving it up, right?

September 30, 2015 at 01:29 AM · I recently gave up the violin about 6 weeks ago and decided I would pick up the slack with a keyboard that I've ignored in the past.

I returned to the violin because in my 6 year career the violin has become like a limb. I just can't live best without it. That's almost what drugs are about! In any case, I really don't know exactly what the violin attraction is but does it matter?

September 30, 2015 at 08:47 AM · This has been a pretty good discussion topic, though, all in all.

How long ago did you give up the violin?

Are you now considering starting again? Is that the reason behind your inquiry? Or just doing research to find out what drives people who actually enjoy playing?

September 30, 2015 at 10:48 AM · Gave up the violin? Okay with me. Lots of people do.

But will you *please* contact the site editor and ask her to change your handle to your real name? Until then I'm flagging every one of your posts.

September 30, 2015 at 11:19 AM · If I may........an opinion.........."giving up the violin" is at least two different things. One is simply not playing the violin and the second is giving up a life style.

What would I do without a violin? Who would I be?

October 2, 2015 at 01:20 AM · From the movie, "The Red Shoes":

Boris Lermontov: Why do you want to dance?

[Vicky thinks for a short while]

Victoria Page: Why do you want to live?

[Lermontov is suprised at the answer]

Boris Lermontov: Well I don't know exactly why, er, but I must.

Victoria Page: That's my answer too.

To those who get it, enough said. To anyone who doesn't, a thousand more words probably won't help.

October 2, 2015 at 02:32 AM · Wiser words than Raphael's, have never been spoken.

October 2, 2015 at 12:38 PM · agreed!

October 2, 2015 at 08:40 PM · "Again, going from a pragmatic point of view it wasn't wasted time."

Are you kidding? This entire post + answers were a total waste of time. Just add up the thought that people put into their long-winded answers to justify to some nincompoop why he should want to do something. Think of how much time they could have spent doing laundry, staring into space, or practicing.

It doesn't matter what that something is, whether violin or painting his closet ...or staring into space. If you didn't like the sound or didn't have the discipline or don't appreciate the repertoire, then SO WHAT? Don't do it. But why should everyone take the time to justify their choice to you?

October 3, 2015 at 07:16 AM · Hey, Josh,

It sounds like your violin experience consisted only of creating solo performances. Did you ever consider playing in a group like a dance band? That might be the different approach that could give meaning to your playing.

October 3, 2015 at 09:08 AM · Or try blues; it allows for a boatload of improvisation. Maybe

It is what you need to release your creative inner self.

October 3, 2015 at 10:11 AM · Playing music can be therapeutic. It exercises a completely different part of the brain. It can help take your mind off the daily grind, and arguably extend your life.

In recent years, I've really gotten to enjoy learning new techniques and new pieces of music. I think the key is not to be in such a hurry to get to a destination (e.g., play paganini), but enjoy the place you are at, wherever it might be. If you expect to master the violin, you are in for a rude awakening.

October 3, 2015 at 10:28 AM · The higher we climb the more we can see. Wow there's a small patch of blue sky beyond all those black clouds.

October 3, 2015 at 01:11 PM · More wasted typing.

Here's another way to look at it: you're eating kale, and someone comes up to you and, making a face, says, "how can you possibly like that stuff? It's disgusting!"

The kale-hater is not really asking WHY you like kale--he's doesn't care because he hates kale. But yet you take his question at face value.

"I love the green crunchiness with earthy and citrus notes combined with the scratchy finish"

Or, you say " you should really try it braised with pork medallions in a balsamic reduction. As if he will.

Here's another example: you're dating someone and some random person comes up and says "what do you SEE in her anyway?" It's NOT an invitation to say what you see in her. It's a general statement of disapproval. And you ignore them and they press on: " no, really, I wan to know--tell me what attracts to her." The more they insist on an explanation, the more sarcastic and offensive they become in demanding explanation.

That is the tone of the OPs question.

Wow, look much practice time I've wasted...

October 3, 2015 at 01:55 PM · I hope the reference to kale was purely Socratical in nature. Kale should be thrown directly into the trash bin next to the OP's violin. There is no discussion on kale.

October 3, 2015 at 02:13 PM · I've finished my practice for today and just about to cook up some vegetables so I'll use up a post. This is not addressed to trolls.

I believe that my cronies and I have a gift to give to our special audience. It may at times be some nice music, sometimes the gift is a little shabby, sometimes it is just a chance to do something unusual. Some in the audience are surprised that someone comes to share time with them, for free.

Not my only reason to play, but an important one.

Stay pawsitave

October 3, 2015 at 03:13 PM · Well the only reason that it seems that I am putting my fingers in my ears is due to much of the posts not making much sense or connecting to me. The general consensus is that people make up their own reasons as to why they play the violin as there really isn't truly a concrete reason to play the violin. One says that it lets them relax, another one says that they enjoy it, yet I want to understand why do they enjoy it. Nobody at all gave a reason to that really. I for example enjoy books because I can pick up a variety of skills, such as writing and critical thinking, and can apply many of the situations in different books to real life. I enjoy art and music because in addition to sounding and looking nice, they allow me to feel different emotions. Whereas playing an instrument, it is only physical labor whereas you can simply listen to it on headphones and experience the same emotions. Of course this is different from people who compose their own music, which I think has a purpose, but honestly very few musicians at all compose their own music. If you think that this topic is a waste of time and I am trolling, then I invite you not to post, but I am truly looking for an answer and a reason as to why one should play any instrument at all.

October 3, 2015 at 03:18 PM · Irrespective of the OP's motives, I find this thread useful in identifying the reasons we play violin. These posts are only a waste of time if you view them as such. Open minded people will take something away from this discussion. Close minded people will complain and get nothing.

October 3, 2015 at 03:22 PM · Josh,

You are seeking answers to unanswerable questions. Some people have explained why they like violin, but it is entirely personal preference.

For example, what is your favorite color and explain why that color is so good. I'll bet that you will get a lot of people disagreeing with you. There is no right or wrong, just personal preference.

October 3, 2015 at 04:26 PM · Seems you are trying to apply logic illogically. Does that make sense?

Do you know why you can enjoy the art of music through your audiophile, hifi headphones? Because most likely someone decided to study HARD the violin to be able to play at that level. Perhaps it's not likely you will do the same, but others want to keep the art of music making through the violin alive, and leave it not just to recordings to fill that niche.

You are also ignoring the previous posts mentioning the difference between live performance vs the studio. I assume you can't counter that argument, or that you just prefer edited performances (or a few "best performances" of specific works.) In this case, it's a matter of taste-I frankly prefer to hear an "imperfect", live performance from a great artist than his/her "perfect" recording (in fact, I am a strong advocate for going to all concerts you can possibly afford to, even for the more popular works.)

Add to this that playing, say, the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto isn't the same experience every time even for the same great violinist, one cannot accurately say that one needs not study/perform the piece anymore due to its countless recordings from both the "golden" era up to right now. You can never have too much of a good thing, as it's art being re-created for each live performance and recording.

The folly, IMHO, of "definite versions" of any recording-though I admit I have my favorites-is simply that as flawless both technically and musically a performance may be, there's no "one right way" to play the repertoire-even the exacting Beethoven-so by limiting ourselves to few alternatives we are really missing out on great emotional possibilities, which you are after, according to your post above.

So, although some players do treat the violin just as a job, many a violinist looks for new emotional experiences and ways to express ART to themselves and others through the meticulous study of the instrument and its repertoire, whether classic, "hackneyed", or modern. For this last matter, there's SO MUCH repertoire people rarely record, much less play live, so one could not honestly state that the Classical Violin repertoire has been "exhausted"-and as aforementioned, I nevertheless don't believe you can run out of musical ideas for all the great works that are there to be performed, even for the great and more popular Sonatas/Concerti.

I believe these are all valid reasons to play and love the violin despite its abundant difficulties, and doubt you can refute them other than with a quote such as "I rather just hear the Beethoven by Oistrakh with my Grados than put the work to enjoy the music through my own individual playing, as well as possibly share my own interpretation with others." The violin may indeed be difficult, but it's hardly unrewarding at all levels of proficiency, which I fear is the point we'll have to agree to disagree about (unless hopefully any of this finally made sense to you.) But again, if you don't enjoy the violin and don't want to put the work on it, at least don't be dismissive of its infinite usefulness for other people, as we are all allowed to be different and prefer diverse things... no one should "prove" to you, for instance, that being an actor of a popular play is "worth it", as said actor wouldn't have it any other way, even if you would be happy seeing a "perfect" replay of said drama over and over again instead, by "proved actors".

I hope you now understand why I do think that you are trying to apply "logic" in a most unsatisfactory manner, and end up actually doing the opposite-this is NOT a personal attack, but an honest attempt at a reasonable and respectable discussion, so if you disagree, just leave it at that.

October 3, 2015 at 06:56 PM · Josh, you have here lots of very positive answers to your questions. None of us have the one and only answer, so try to combine them all.

But tell us, what did you actually play all these years, and how did you go about it?

At what age did you start, and why?

Have you outgrown the initial backing from family and teachers?

October 3, 2015 at 09:08 PM · Thank you Adalberto Valle-Rivera. I think that you have really given the best answer to my question. I think it was very well laid out and explained and in no way a personal attack which I appreciate. I do now understand why people play the violin, however I guess it is only for certain people as for me personally I don't really care for imperfect songs. But I know what you mean. An imperfect art piece can be much better than a perfect artwork which imitates real life. I started playing the violin at 10 and quit at 18, so I guess for me it was a waste of time, but for others not. I did practice every day because I thought that if I could play very very well, it would finally be enjoyable, but I just found it to be less and less rewarding and not very useful for me, even though I was among one of the top students in violin in my school. I was backed by my teacher and parents, but it was never enforced strictly. I wanted to quit after 2 years of playing but I felt bad as it would have been 2 years wasted (I was never a quitter and always stuck to everything I did, a trait I guess was bad for me), so I continued with it hoping it would get better. So now I guess its just 8 years of my life wasted on a hobby I despise. I guess I will move onto something which I will find more rewarding and interesting and will have to come to terms that I wasted my time (MY time, but I understand that it is not a waste of time for others). Thanks again however, I do understand why people like the violin now. Again, it seems its only for select people and it just wasn't for me.

October 3, 2015 at 09:08 PM · "...playing an instrument, it is only physical labor whereas you can simply listen to it on headphones and experience the same emotions."

The violin is not for you. Do not pass "Go". Do not collect $200.

October 3, 2015 at 10:07 PM · Josh, I believe you were basically looking for validation for your decision to abandon violin playing. I am glad that Adalberto's reply hit home with you. By its very nature this website attracts those who really do like to play. I think you now have some understanding of why they enjoy playing. You will have to look elsewhere for someone of like mind. But your viewpoint is valid. Don't beat yourself up, or let your family upset you. Just move on to other hobbies/ pastimes. Have a good life!

October 4, 2015 at 08:15 AM · I'll be very happy when this discussion reaches the magic 100 number of responses and is finally archived.

I had enough of people not liking the violin or this or that instrument.

If someone doesn't like the violin, or any other instrument it's perfectly acceptable, but why should I or anyone else who loves the violin ever bother?

Let them carry on in their own sweet way, live their life the way they like and let us live ours with the violin at the very centre of it.

October 4, 2015 at 10:35 AM · I'm sure there are many who violently agree with Josh's viewpoint. They just don't hang out here. Put another way, there are a LOT more people who quit the violin, than there are still playing. I will go out on a limb and say perhaps as much as 100 to 1.

The violin is difficult for sure. Some enjoy the conquest. Others find it too challenging. As much as we would like to dismiss Josh for his negative viewpoint, it is he that is in the majority, and us violin nerds who are few and far between.

Regardless which side you are on, I find this discussion informative and worthwhile. Thanks to Josh for getting us to think.

October 4, 2015 at 12:20 PM · I play the violin...and more recently, the bassoon as well...because I like the challenge, I like the sound (I even don't mind practicing long notes!), I like the sense of accomplishment and achievement. I like playing with others. I like being part of 'something' that is actually rather miraculous => think of the history, collaboration, development and innovation => instrument makers, composers, musicians, audiences - that all had/have to come together so that a performance can occur.

I prefer live music to recorded music. I prefer 'real' music, complete with mistakes, to air-brushed studio sanitized music.

I like recitals. I like listening to children play...and watch as they improve over time...

One of my favourite things in life...is to sit in the middle of our orchestra during rehearsal...while I am sitting out for some reason...and just relax and be immersed in the music and sound that is happening around me - and that I am part of...

But - I think the OP has a totally valid question. Where else should he ask such a question? And I am pleased he received some valid responses.

I am however, continually surprised, that on a forum that prides itself on being 'nice' that we have people that rush to call 'troll' or are so ready to trash someone else's opinion or philosophy when it doesn't mesh with theirs.

October 5, 2015 at 12:58 AM · To my last two colleagues/posters whom I'm glad to see, as it's been some time - or maybe we've just been posting on different threads:

Of course many more people don't play - or even like - the violin, than do. That to me is a given. What has always pleasantly surprised me from the Mirecourt and Marchnucerchin days till now is to be reminded how much of a world-wide supply and demand there IS for violins. But that's really beside the point. This is a site for people who love the violin. Then somebody comes along to this site and offers up a challenge to one and all of why anyone should even play the violin at all and a few people are surprised by a largely negative reaction.

I think that the answer is pretty simple: The question was posed in a very negative way and it was couched in shifty logic and with questionable motives - aspects that have already been well addressed in posts above.

We may argue among ourselves here till the cows come home about shoulder rests, we may never get enough about rosin and string choices and we may roll our eyes over yet another request for advice on what to play next or how old is too old to start. But we hold these truths to be self-evident: that we love the violin and we love to talk about every aspect of it we can think of.

Then we have someone for whom it took 8 years to decide that he not only despises the violin but can't even begin to understand how anybody could like to play it just because he is apparently blind and deaf to its virtues. After throwing it in the trash - literally or metaphorically - his next move is to join v.com and we know the rest. And people are supposed to welcome this with open arms? As has been suggested, maybe he wants validation for his choice. Did he expect here? Maybe misery loves company and he was hoping to get some - again here?

Of course the violin is not for everybody. If you gave it a try and you didn't like it, set it aside. Certainly as an adult, who is putting a gun to your head to stick with it? There is at least one thread that I can recall, where someone was struggling with issues of sticking with the violin or giving it up. And that person rightly got a lot of sympathy. There is a way to put something and a way not to. Imagine approaching a religious site the way OP did - or even a site dedicated to any hobby that enough people enjoyed to make it a very popular site. ("Why do you guys believe in that crap? I tried it for some time and after repudiating it for myself I thought I'd join your site and rain on your parade" Or "why do you like cats at all? I just don't get it. Mine scratched me so I kicked it to the curb. Now show me some love." I know that I'm hardly alone in getting a peculiar and negative vibe from the OP. And coincidentally or accidentally his original handle speaks volumes. In my galaxy that's no shining star; that's a black hole. And maybe that's why so many of us have, almost against our will, been drawn into its tow.

But there is certainly some light here as well. Many have chosen to answer a more positive version of the question, to wit:"please share with your colleagues your personal take on what the violin means to you - not to prove anything to anybody but to share your particular love of the violin." I do admire those who have done that and if I have the time before the thread runs out, maybe I will as well.

October 5, 2015 at 10:04 AM · I honestly did not sense any maliciousness in OP's comments. In fact, he has been surprisingly restrained given the personal attacks against him.

He spent 8 years of his life studying the instrument and from the sounds of it, attained a fairly high level of proficiency, and hated every moment of it. That doesn't make him a troll. He just doesn't have a passion for the instrument.

While his comments are certainly controversial, I get the sense that he is really seeking justification for the time he spent. Was there anything positive in the experience, or was it a complete waste of his time? It is a fair question.

The difficulty comes when people believe their viewpoint is the "right" viewpoint. Case in point, look how effective our congress is. The thing to realize here is that there is no right or wrong. Just different perspectives. People are completely entitled to love or hate the violin. This thread is an interesting examination of why we labor over such a difficult instrument. Let's face it, playing violin is damn hard. OP brings up a very valid point. Why do we do it?

October 5, 2015 at 10:39 AM · I respect your take, Smiley, but I strongly adhere to mine. Maybe it's the good brand of rosin I use for extra adhesion! To put it another way, you say 'legayto' and I say 'legahto', you say 'stacayto' and I say 'staccahto'...

October 5, 2015 at 05:21 PM · Just back from my weekly lesson. Having had to sit out for a couple weeks because of an injury, I now know the answer better than before: playing the violin makes me happy. Not being able to play makes me sad. Even at my modest level where the rather simple melodies are never quite in tune, the sound never quite rounded. It doesn't matter. I love playing my violin.

October 5, 2015 at 06:54 PM · I will admit it, when I first wrote my original post, I was feeling very negative about the violin which is why I called it a waste of time. I hope that I didn't offend anyone or that anyone took it serious because it was just the way I was feeling. I think I got out of this discussion much more than what I deserved as I had a strange name (Again sorry, I forgot the meaning behind it) and it was negative towards violin players. I hope you guys forgive me as I have learned a lot from people's valuable insight into this matter which I think I just have to also have time to think through on my own. Again thank you very much.

I think again that the violin is for a certain group of people, but just like other hobbies, like art and literature, it is not for the many and it seems like violin is not for me.

October 5, 2015 at 07:22 PM · Hi Raphael,

I don't believe I was disagreeing with you, only pointing out that there are different points of view and they are all valid. I am in your camp. I love playing violin.

It is challenging, but also relaxing at the same time. It allows me to clear my head from all the daily crap I have to deal with. And it saves me tons of money. Without violin, I might be addicted to alcohol or other controlled substances. And I have saved thousands because I don't need a shrink :-)

October 6, 2015 at 12:20 PM · Whether Charles was being down on the instrument or not, I think it's a good question. Those "cradle" violinists probably were never asked this question, but, I'm sure most of the adult starters were asked, "what do you hope to get out of this"? What do you want to do with it? I know I was.

I play the violin for a variety of reasons. Some of the benefits I didn't realize until after I started playing. First and foremost, I have a visceral need to make music, not just listen to it. Second, I get very excited when I can play the pieces I love, not just appreciate someone else's performance. A large body of the music I love is composed for violin. Violin is one of the most versatile instruments around as it's one featured in a wide variety of genre - classical, jazz, blues, folk. The violin is both physically and aurally beautiful. I like a challenge. Side benefits are feeding a fascination with the instrument in a class by itself, a sense of renewed energy when I play.

For the record, I have achieved a satisfying degree of competency on a variety of instruments throughout my life, including piano. And I have to say that the violin, is the hardest thing I've tried to learn. Perhaps if I were given a violin "in utero" as some people have been, I wouldn't find it quite so challenging, but as I was in my 40's when I picked it up ....

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Virtual Sejong Music Competition
Virtual Sejong Music Competition

Violinist.com Business Directory
Violinist.com Business Directory

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases

Fiddlerman.com

Fiddlershop

Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Violin-Strings.com

Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin

Warchal

Barenreiter

Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine

Subscribe