Choosing Between Violin & Piano

February 12, 2004 at 02:01 AM · My teacher chose the violin over the piano even though she has reached a teaching level with both. She said about 16 years ago she took 6 months to get back where she were with the piano but found no point in doing so. She chose to spend time with the violin instead.

She asked me which do I choose. I can't! I love both. I understand that due to limited time and energy, I can only pick one. But I love both!

Anyone had to go through this decision and which one did you choose? Why?

Replies (20)

February 12, 2004 at 02:15 AM · I feel your pain! I play both now. I started violin when I was 6 and piano when I was 8 (opposite of most people). Orginally I would change my favorite every week. First Violin then piano then violin and so on. As I began going to more summer camps on violin I became more attached to the violin. Then I switched piano teachers and that was the end of it. I quit piano for one uear and have since taken it up again, mainly to understand theory. But I don't think you should be forced to choose. One of my teachers who is now my violin and piano/theory teacher, is a terrific violinist but went to college on a full piano scholorship! So it proves you can do both as long as you love them both. You may eventually have a favorite, but it is actually better to know both so you will have a better appreciation of music!


February 12, 2004 at 02:39 AM · I started violin at 6 and piano at 8 too (WHOA COINCIDENCE). I ended up choosing the violin. Since I started it first, I found bass clef really awkward and found it hard to coordinate both hands on the keyboard. LOL. I was a klutz but that's ok. I also found the violin more easier to... uh be with. Um, not quite sure how to explain that. I felt more of an affinity towards violin than piano. Of course, now I have just recently started relearning bass clef on the piano and playing easy pieces to get away from violin once in a while, not that I'm sick of it. I recommend violin though. Sorry I don't have a good reason. -__-"

February 12, 2004 at 03:05 AM · Heh. My mom (who is also my teacher, heh) started out with piano, then switched to violin around 6th grade. She stuck with both though, and she teaches both. So that's pretty great.

Anyways, I have a friend who doesn't really have the problem with choosing between them. She currently plays violin but prefers piano because it's more 'fun.' But I keep encouraging her to continue in violin, and maybe trying both. I know that decision is entirely up to her, but I feel that if she's gone this far in violin, she might as well keep going; or else she just wasted all that time. Know what I mean?

What advice do you advise I tell her then?

February 12, 2004 at 03:44 AM · I had the same "switching favorites" problem for a loooong time.

I reread journal entries from elementary school where I say "I play piano, and it's fun, but I hate hate hate hate playing the violin, and I never want to play it again!"

I think I started getting more attached to violin when I started playing in orchestras. But then I started realizing that I was only "mediocre," which made a slump in my violin playing. Plus, I had pressure from my mother (a piano teacher) to prepare to play in a ten piano concert in Japan. So I dropped violin for a few months and concentrated soley on piano. When I came back from Japan, however, I picked up violin again, and then during my junior year I took lessons, and the summer after my junior year I participated in a six week Governor's school where my area of emphasis was instrumental music on violin.

Sooo, now I play piano, I enjoy it, I'm good at it. But I think for me it was easy to make the decision - my mother is a great pianist, and I don't want to have to "live up to her" if that makes sense. But I still play piano and it helps /tremendously/ for theory, because it's so much more visual (I think) than any other intrument. The half steps are all lined up for you in a row and you don't have to worry about being in tune, if you've got a good piano that holds its tune. Personally I think that every musician, no matter what the instrument, should have basic piano skills.

But when you've got potential with both, it is /hard hard hard hard/ to choose.

February 12, 2004 at 03:57 AM · Greetings,

I pose the question, @why does chossing an empahasis on one preclude practicng the other regalalry?`

I never bothered to learn the paino to any reasonable level and I cannot tell you how deeply I regret this. Not only does one have access to some of the most beautiful music ever written (Bach is soon playable a swell as stuff like Schumann Childrens songs and Bartok Mikrokosmos) but the depth one can appreciate sonatas by playingthe paino part is enormous. then any player should be able to score read to enhamnc elaerning a concerto. I was not surpried to read John Dalley of the Guarneri quartet talking with enthusiaism about working at the Bach Preludes and Fugues as a theory exericse (filling in the middle parts and then comapring with the masters version) as a very significant musical exercise.



Don`t take this decision without consuming a great many prnes first.

February 12, 2004 at 06:10 AM · First of all, Hi to everyone from a newbie! :)

My grandfather got me into both violin and piano at the age of six, but he always said that he preferred the violin because it's so much more portable than a piano, LOL.

Now, almost twenty years later, I agree with him. For me, nothing beats the satisfaction of bringing my instrument on the road and performing whenever I feel like it (although more for myself than for others).

BTW, I stopped playing the piano at age 8 but I haven't looked back. :)

February 12, 2004 at 06:42 AM · I appreciate your position. It's hard to balance love/energy/discipline more or less equally, between two instruments. (I feel the same way about my writing "versus" violin-playing.) How do you keep from burning out? How do you keep sane?

While it would be easier to live the reality of being very good at just one thing, it's not worth giving up something that you're also good at, in my book. While it might free up your conscience, you might regret it will feel the loss.

But it's totally up to you! :) As I was deciding, "Should I be a writer?" or "Should I be a violinist?" everyone kept telling me, "You're already both...DEAL." I've finally accepted that I'm both, and as annoying and stressful as it is, I tend to see my life these days as "full of art."

(HOWEVER, I would gladly trade being a writer for being a pianist anyday!!! Actually, I could not trade being a writer, I'd have to give up violin. Just think...Bach, Schumann, Hindemith, Chick Corea...)

Do what makes you happy.


February 12, 2004 at 10:01 PM · i think you could learn both, many great violinists were also accomplished pianists.

February 12, 2004 at 11:18 PM · Learning the piano complements learning the violin and vice versa. For instance, I looked at triple stops way differently after learning a bit of piano. Unless you're bent on a soloist's career, or really don't have the time, I think one can probably juggle both instruments. It's hard, I know...

February 13, 2004 at 03:16 AM · Hey, can I join the Violin@6 Piano@8 Brigade? I think one instrument will win through all on its ownsome, even if you're trying to keep up with both. Although I was a far more natural/talented pianist, the extensive opportunites I got through being a violinist - not to mention the extensive hours of practice to get equivalent results - tipped the balance.

February 13, 2004 at 10:47 PM · I started the piano when I was 7 and the violin when I was 14! I think I prefer the piano more because I find it less challenging-it does not screech, you don't have to tune it and you can see the notes, whilst on the violin I play notes 'blindly' all there is, is a black fingerboard! However, I find the violin much more challenging and that's what makes it fun! Plus I want to play so much hard repertoire, even though I often say to myself "you're never going to be able to play that" after I've heard a recording that i really like.

Life is like that I suppose


February 13, 2004 at 11:28 PM · my teacher, as good as he is at violin, can play you a lizst hungarian rhapsody...piano is essential for everything. I make an effort to practice piano everyday if i have time, because i started when i was 6 and i think i should play no matter what other instruments i go through. Piano gave me my ears...which i wouldnt be able to play violin without

February 13, 2004 at 11:31 PM · once when i was at a Perlman concert, i decided that the violin is the most beautiful instrument every created. Then i went to a Evgeny Kissin concert and laughed at violin and concluded that piano was the greatest. Then i went to another violin performance...etcetc. I think that's very interesting!

February 14, 2004 at 05:42 PM · Yes, in the end you probably have to choose an emphasis, but don't give up the one that you do not choose. (By the way, Paul Hersh at the San Fransisco Conservatory teaches both viola and piano, and there is an oboe teacher at CIM who accompanies his students in public recitals!)

February 21, 2004 at 09:37 PM · Oh, wow, lol, I thought I was the only one. I study both piano and violin. My ultimate goal is to be a violinist, but I find the instruments to complement one another. Studying Mozart on piano (the phrasing just seems so decisive) really helped me think about the way I'm phrasing the Bach sonatas on violin (if that makes any sense). And Chopin! Which must be played on piano! It gives you many great ideas about how to phrase on violin. When you play piano everything is just laid out in front of you, so it's also eaiser to think about technqiue and getting things in your muscle memory, and transferring it to violin. Plus, after long hours of practice on one instrument, it's nice to take a break by practicing the other instrument. I remember teachers telling me to choose.......ha! It's like choosing which arm you like the best. Personally, I'm sticking with both. :-)

February 22, 2004 at 05:25 PM · I just recently (maybe a week ago) bought my first violin. I'm having some difficulty and feel intimidated by it, of course thats normal for a beginner like me. But am I the only one that has a background as a guitarist. I'm 19 and started playing guitar at 12. Since then, I can play guitar (this is my main instrument and always will be), bass (electric), ukulele, mandolin and a little bit of banjo. I've always had a fascination for violin and piano however. The problem is that I don't come from a family of musicians, my parents and grand parents don't play any instruments so I have to buy all my instruments myself, which isn't always cheap. So last week I found an old inexpensive violin (its still a really good violin I think, I bought it from a widow). I don't know if I will get a teacher or try to learn myself.

People from this forum seem to be more into classical music and maybe thats why I'm the only guitarist here, although I really enjoy classical music, I'm more learning violin to play folk and bluegrass.

Wish me luck with my violin! :) It should be fun!

February 22, 2004 at 06:04 PM · Hi Joey,

Methinks you are not the only guitarist here, though you may be the only one that posted today! We've had some other guitarists, and especially mandolinists, chatting among us, and of course, all are welcome! About 2,000 people visit the site every day, so be assured you have some company as a guitarist interested in violin. :)

February 23, 2004 at 03:53 AM · Greetings,

Joey, I don`t know what the significance of buying something from a widow is? It sounds a little sinister...

In themeantime, as many poeple have advised on simialr threads, it really is much better to get a teacher. In thelong run it will save you so much frustration.



March 11, 2004 at 04:23 AM · ""I pose the question, @why does chossing an empahasis on one preclude practicng the other regalalry?`

I never bothered to learn the paino to any reasonable level and I cannot tell you how deeply I regret this.""

Buri, I am with you all the way!! I am learning more of the piano now to get past the basics of piano playing. I think any violinist or violin teacher should know how to play the piano. It is a great tool in the teaching room as well as in the professional life. The violin obviously is my main instrument and the piano is an extra tool if you will!

Some of my violin teachers played the piano also and used it in class also.



PS: a bag of prunes for Buri

March 11, 2004 at 06:44 AM · We had a similar thread not so long ago which makes me wonder if piano is not a required study in the conservatories in the states.In England even first study violinists are required to take second study piano.Then there is keyboard harmony which requires knowledge of the keyboard.In Italy students can only take the 5th year exam on the violin after they have passed a piano exam .Aside from this playing the piano is a very useful asset for a violinist and/or teacher:-

1)Scores can be studied in full.A thorough knowledge of the piano leads to a deeper interpretation.

2)Teachers can accompany pupils in their lessons and recitals.This also gives an opprtunity for in depth study of the score as opposed to the violin part.

3)Basic knowledge of keyboard harmony means that even the most basic ex.scales,finger patterns can be tarted up for the reluctant student and can be heard in a musical context.

4)When you have pressed piano keys you understand and love your bow.In fact understanding phrasing takes on a new light if you play both instruments.

The list is longer but I have to go now


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