Amateur Players: what keeps you motivated and "going"

May 8, 2019, 9:00 AM · Jumping off of this thread, and the issue of "what keeps one going" vs drifting or outright quitting: https://www.violinist.com/discussion/thread.cfm?page=2929

What is it that keeps us amateurs "going" with the instrument, aside from the sheer love of the instrument?

Is it lessons? Community orchestra? Ensembles?

What keeps you motivated day after day? What keeps you from drifting? What is not a motivating factor for you?

I like the feeling of reward that a lesson brings and having new material to work on, having current goals within current rep and future-oriented goal repertoire (that I'll likely never play, but hey it doesn't hurt to try!). Also those (rare) moments when something clicks into understanding or insight while practicing/playing that is ultimately integrated into daily practice.

Lately I've been loving the simple act of practicing daily (likely since I understand more of what is going on with technique and the music and am able to problem solve a teensy bit more than before.) And manage to practice no matter what is going on, even if for 20-30mins.

My lesson schedule has been weird that past three months, only one every four weeks (vs every other week), but in some ways it's motivated me to work harder between lessons so I can squeeze as much out of my lessons as possible.

I'm not motivated by learning concertos (sure, there's a couple that I'd like to learn, but I'm more interested in solo works and sonatas these days), and my teacher thankfully also agrees that concertos -for me- are not a wise pedagogical direction. I like having rep that I can potentially perform, I like having rep that is shorter than a standard concerto too. In a somewhat related sense, what keeps me going is searching for new rep to learn that's less common than the traditionally taught rep, and then learning it, or putting it into the "future" pile. (I'm just starting to get to the point now in my playing and confidence level where more material is accessible for me - which is really exciting!)

What also keeps me motivated is my violin - I love my violin so much and I know it wants to help me make music. My violin is a daily reminder to not let myself drift off again, because when I drifted I felt like a piece of me was missing and I never want to feel like that again if I can help it.

TL/DR:

My motivating factors:
1. lessons
2. the aha's that come from practicing, and the practice itself
3. rep
4. my relationship with my violin

Replies (52)

May 8, 2019, 10:28 AM · All of the above! Thanks for creating this thread. I expect a lively and productive discussion.

I like practicing. There's a zen-like aspect to it. From my perspective the difficulties will never end, but I can hopefully conquer a few of them. I've noticed my intonation improving (albeit perhaps glacially) and my overall skill too.

Community orchestra is a mixed bag. I play viola there because they badly need violas, but I'd rather be playing violin and I have other frustrations with the orchestra too. I might change to a different community orchestra next year. We'll see.

Ensembles are fun but that's hard to pull together because the other people that I'd be collaborating with are super busy just like I am, with career and family.

I enjoy the violin I own, and I think it's a pretty good violin, but I don't have this intimate loving relationship with it. It's just a tool. So that aspect of violin-playing is not really a driver for me.

I don't have a repertoire bucket list. My goal is to be good enough to play Mozart and perhaps Bruch, not because I want to perform those, but because I feel that if I can reach that level, then I should be able to play at least a fraction of the chamber repertoire. I want to be able to join an amateur chamber ensemble without worrying that I'm going to "be the one" that holds everyone back.

I really enjoy my lessons. My professor is a very warm-hearted, forgiving person, but he also has a very scientific approach to the violin and deep knowledge from personal experience as a performing soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral violinist. He is able to convey a lot of his insight in rational ways.

May 8, 2019, 10:29 AM · Too lazy to stop, mostly.
Edited: May 8, 2019, 10:47 AM · 1. Its the emotional expression first and foremost. The violin allows me to express feelings and sensations that is (at least for me) impossible any other way.
2. I hope it doesn't sound corny, but I feel I have music that has to get out of me and the violin is the only/'easiest' way to do that!
3. Love to practise - I see the whole thing as a challenge, a game if you will, me against the insurmountable technique.
4. Love to perform - even though I have had debilitating performance anxiety.
5. Love (much) classical music because of its complexity that intrigues me but I can not really hope to conquer or fully understand.

BTW I also love to do sonatas, solo violin and piano-violin duets. However, concertos are something quite special in that they are in many ways accompanied solos (but obviously not only). Also, if you want to exist in a pro world, you really have to have some of them under your belt - if only for auditions. You can't audition with a (v-p) sonata!

May 8, 2019, 10:49 AM · It's so interesting how people have different reasons. For me, it has a lot to do with community and playing with others. I'm in two, sometimes 3, orchestras, and a variety of chamber groups, formal and informal. My teacher is very interesting and analytical and I would enjoy spending time with her in almost any context. So I enjoy my lessons, but they've become infrequent lately due to my being busy at work. I am not a particularly goal-oriented person; I find a lot of goals to be anxiety-provoking and demotivating more than anything else. So I have moderate and modest goals, mostly oriented towards learning orchestra and chamber works. I did work towards and perform a solo piece last year. I was very glad I did it and might do it again someday, but I think big ambitious solo goals are a dessert in my musical life, not a main course. I practice most days, but I am very gentle with myself if it's not in the cards on a particular day. I've found that giving myself permission to *not* practice daily and to take days off is essential to my mental health and motivation. The other thing that keeps me motivated is writing about music. I found violinist.com when I re-started playing in the fall of 2006. I had quit twice before and was looking for a way to not quit again. I started blogging, and I'm still here!
Edited: May 8, 2019, 10:57 AM · In my case, there's three factors: Curiosity + Challenge + Bach.

1. Curiosity: I always had some curiosity about the violin, which made me take it up as an adult. How do they know where to place the fingers without frets? How do they do this or that? I've found that, the more I learn, the more curious I'm about the instrument and its technique.

2. Challenge: The violin is usually known as a very difficult instrument, so I had to try it by myself. I must admit that I'm slightly disappointed though. I've been learning at a reasonable pace... almost without practicing at all outside my classes. So my next challenge is to start practicing with a bit more regularity.

3. Bach: Whenever I'm unmotivated, I listen to Bach's solo works, and I remember I want to play that. I've been playing the piano since childhood, and I know the joy of playing Bach. Now I want this with the violin.

May 8, 2019, 11:33 AM · I think that whether you play professionally or as an amateur, you can always find inspiration by listening to old and new music and performers, and the mere aspects of the journey itself. "Can I get better?" "Can I express better" "Can I explore-and play well-repertoire I never would have thought of?"

The violin journey never ends for me, and I feel I would be betraying it-and myself-if I stop learning, getting too comfortable with what I already lnow. If I do not challenge myself, I will get stuck, and very possibly, even play worse over time. It's a beautiful instrument and repertoire, and worth the serious commitment required to keep advancing higher into the art.

That said, I personally see nothing wrong with just finding pleasure in playing with others/for fun/without worries to keep getting better. It's just my personal approach-I will always be my own "student" for life, striving for new violinistic heights (and they *can* be achieved.) I will not be critical of others for seeing things differently, to be sure.

Edited: May 8, 2019, 12:01 PM · For me it's playing in orchestras. I miss it. My ambition is to join one next year. I may also join a choir before then.
May 8, 2019, 12:01 PM · 1. The main thing that keeps me going is that there is always something that can be improved on in my playing. Even if I only have 20 minutes, I can work on a shift, or polishing a piece, or experiment with phrasing.

2. Once I start practicing, I can go for a long time before I want to quit. It's very meditative for me and works almost as well as a long run to improve my emotional state.

3. Playing with others is so much fun. It reminds me of when I played on a soccer team when I was young. Those moments when everything comes together are magical.

4. Goal pieces - I'm finally getting to the point where I can start working on some delicious repertoire.

Edited: May 8, 2019, 12:22 PM · Motivated by love of music, potential for improvement, and opportunities to make music with friends.

My violin playing continued to improve until I was 55 and suffered an injury. My violin vibrato was forever wrecked and has had to be revamped in a totally different way but my cello playing abilities resumed after a year and continued to improve until I was 72. So at least on cello I could work on a few new (to me) concertos and played chamber music - actually still do, just not a regularly as until a year ago. With declining violin and cello skills I decided to try viola on a regular basis when I was 80, about 4 years ago, it did not take long to reach what is probably my limit.

But other people still let me play with them and I will continue as long as I am able. I just will no longer daydream of soloing a concerto in front of an orchestra - I can no longer stand that long - but not even on cello. I have no illusions about any of this.

It is helpful to the ego of a moderately good amateur player during developing years to be in a "small pond" where one's skills can stand out and get solo gigs, and concertmaster chairs. Now I live in the San Francisco Bay Area where more talented musicians abound and I am just grateful to be allowed to continue to play with some of them. That is motivation enough.

I am now motivated to practice only enough to keep my playing at the next musical outing up to "par" as best I can. My "improvement" nowadays from the beginning of any session to the end (practice, rehearsal or performance) is the only "progress" I seem to make. It's got to be enough!

Sadly, I have friends even younger than I, who are looking into selling their instruments (of course they happen to be worth a lot more money than mine - my kids will inherit mine to do with as them want - but it won't make them rich).

May 8, 2019, 12:34 PM · I think lessons are a huge part of my motivation, as I am striving to gain Grade 5, Grade 8 and then hopefully an ARSM on the viola. I really enjoy putting in the hard work. I also thoroughly enjoy being in orchestras on both violin and viola, and playing traditional music on the violin (fiddle). I naturally practise quite a lot, certainly on the viola, as that is my main focus at the moment. But the practise habits I have were developed through childhood too. The hard work is good, and at some point I would like to have a go at the Walton Viola Concerto, when I am a little bit better. So that as a goal certainly keeps me going!
May 8, 2019, 12:49 PM · Like Karen, I am significantly motivated by the social aspect. Even if I'm not chatting with people much, I much prefer music-making with other people. If I didn't have a family, I'd probably be playing in a couple of orchestras and chamber groups, playing pit for musicals, and doing a musical group activity almost every day.

I am also motivated to improve, but I've taken a much broader view of that these days, rather than thinking about it just in terms of technical improvement. I want to improve as a performer -- not just to avoid the devastating effects of nerves (though that's a big part of it, since nerves make performing a lot less fun), but also to be better at engaging an audience. I want to improve as a concertmaster. I want to improve as a collaborator and communicator in chamber music.

I have a love-hate relationship with practicing. It's very hard for me to get started practicing, but once I start, I can be really engaged with the process. But I need to have the physical and mental energy to do it. Group activities are scheduled -- whether or not I feel like it at the moment, I'm going to go, and once I'm in it, I am usually fully "present". But the more nebulous nature of practice time means that I can opt for couch potato-ing instead. So what really gets me practicing are the deadlines -- the prep for the weekly lesson, rehearsals, and performances.

Also, I bought a very expensive violin and bow, and I feel like I need to use them to justify having spent the money. :-)

May 8, 2019, 2:11 PM · All of the above!
May 8, 2019, 2:47 PM · Not sure about the violin being like a baby. The much more commonly used metaphor is (or used to be I hope) that playing the violin is like making love to a woman...

As a kid I elected to play the violin, I have no idea why. But I am now very happy I did so decide. There is the intimacy with the instrument (unlike say with a piano or kettle drums), the way one shapes the tone with one's hands (and arms). There is the huge repertoire (unlike say for oboe). And there are the opportunities to play ensemble music (there are 20 of us and only 2 or 3 flautists in an orchestra. There is more chamber music for stringed instruments than for any other except piano).

I haven't had lessons in decades. When my third violin teacher told me (I was about 18 then) that I would at some point stop taking lessons and I would have to figure things out for myself (explaining why he gave me a long speech analyzing some technical problem) I was taken aback. I had literally never considered life without a violin teacher before that. But he was right. Most amateurs I have met in my post-university life did not take lessons while I knew them--unlike it seems almost everybody on this thread.

I have instead learned a lot from conductors and more recently from chamber music coaches (I like to think of myself as an amateur musician who plays the violin rather than an amateur violinist). Earlier I played in orchestras but in the last 25 or so I have become an almost-only-chambermusic kind of person (even as a listener / concertgoer). Heaven for me is the place where there is never a lack of partners for playing quartets. There is a large repertoire of chamber music that is accessible to someone who has a solid basic technique if not a lot of virtuosity, indeed a large percentage of the common repertoire is accessible to such a person though maybe not always for performance. I enjoy working on that much more than trying to acquire more and more advanced technical skills. One of the highlights was a series of coached rehearsals on Schostakovich's e-minor piano trio, followed by an informal performance at the pianist's house.

May 8, 2019, 3:07 PM · I have two bands, both of which I could add fiddle when I get good enough. Actually, one I could start now.

My main instrument, a cajun accordion, is very limiting. Difficult to impossible to incorporate other genres. Seemingly illogical note layout. Diatonic, not chromatic, and 80% of the time only able to play partial chords. Tuned weird compared to pianos, etc. Very hard for someone at my level to improvise on it. Difficult to play blues on.

On the violin, it is linear, easier to improvise, all the notes are there. I have opportunities to play. I would actually feel like a musician playing the violin (when I wasn't crashing and burning). I can use music theory. I can play blues.

So I guess that's my community orchestra.

Am finally taking lessons with someone I like.

Mainly, wanting to improvise the blues.

May 8, 2019, 3:12 PM · Paul - I did not have an intimate relationship with my previous instrument, it is with this one that I acquired at the end of last year, when I met this instrument it felt like kismet. And then I didn't want to believe it and spent several weeks weeks trying to convince myself that I didn't love it. I swear I looked at it while playing a simple scale last night, smiled and thought, "I love you". Never in a million years would I believe that I'd be this attached to an instrument. This is likely why I am very content to be in the solitude of the practice room making glacial progress.

I do not think of my instrument as a baby, and I do not think of it as a lover, but as a collaborative partner.

May 8, 2019, 3:19 PM · My current motivating factors, in current order:

1. Orchestras and chamber ensembles.

I don't see this as entirely social, because I also prefer to play in ensembles that strive for excellence. There's something magical that happens when a challenging piece comes together. At its best, it feels like flying. I'm fortunate to play in an orchestra that can do this routinely. I'd like to get involved in a chamber ensemble that aims to present high-quality performances. (Related to this: one of the hardest things about struggling with shoulder injuries this year has been allowing myself to play at a merely "acceptable" level due to limited ability to practice. I hate shooting for par.)

Of course, I also enjoy the social aspect. The right people can make any musical experience a lot better. One of my favorite orchestra experiences was a casual community orchestra that was not at all musically satisfying but where the viola section was extremely close-knit (our whole section even became a pub trivia team) for about a year and a half.

2. A "bucket list" of pieces I want to perform or at least play at a creditable performing standard.

This includes solo rep (Walton and Bartok viola concertos, Clarke sonata) but most the list is for some kind of ensemble. Much of the ensemble music is challenging enough that I have to keep raising my technical ability and get myself into groups that can play it -- my list includes late Beethoven string quartets, Don Juan, and lots of Shostakovich.

3. The challenge.

The easiest way to get me committed to something is to tell me I can't do it. For the first 10 years, the one thing that motivated me more than any other was having been turned away by every teacher I asked, and specifically being told when I was 13 that it was already too late to develop the motor skills to play in even the lowest-level community orchestras. Eventually this receded in importance as I started to get more motivation from the ensembles I was already playing in. But I still definitely want to see how good I can get at something that was allegedly impossible for me to learn beyond beginner level.

4. Fighting for musical underdogs.

There's a lot of excellent music out there by lesser-known composers, and I want to get it played. I bring obscure pieces to chamber music reading sessions, and I greatly prefer to play in orchestras that regularly solicit programming suggestions from orchestra members.

Similarly, while I would like to perform as a soloist as much as possible (so far I've done it once), my biggest motivation for seeking solo opportunities is wanting to highlight the viola as a solo instrument.

May 8, 2019, 3:24 PM · A small voice inside that says that I'm the greatest of all time and that all others will eventually bow before me.
May 8, 2019, 3:56 PM · Hahaha Christian - that reason is fantastic.
May 8, 2019, 5:39 PM · Gotta nurture that inner child, Pamela!
May 8, 2019, 6:45 PM · As an educated old-timer beginner, I tend to preserve my time on violin. I mean that I want it to be the best time since the previous one, so if I do not feel like playing it because my mind is polluted by stress or constraints, then I do not pick it. I feel like it is out of respect, just like you do not go out for dinner when your mind is not totally focused on your date.

My main motivation is that playing the violin for me is like making something impossible happen. I was never programmed to play it so when I wrap my fingers around the fingerboard and screetch a sound (or a note in good days), I feel right amongst the gods of arts. In a legit way... That may seem pompous or pretentious, but once I have tuned the strings I feel like nothing can go wrong. So either I sound awful and I learn, or I sound decent and I am happy!

One tool I am using to get self-motivated is a small application named HL Intonation. It tells me whether I am playing in tune or not. The more it records me "in the zone" (while practicing scales or Suzuki pieces), the prouder I am. If I am not "in the zone", then I expect the next day to be better and look forward to it. However, I do not want to constrain myself to practicing if I am not in the right mood. There is no way I would act resentful or stressful with my instrument in hand.

May 8, 2019, 10:10 PM · I started at 23 and my motivation was greatly repertoire oriented: I heard the Paganini Caprices for the first time but no matter how hard I worked, they wouldn't sound good enough on the guitar.

After picking up the violin, the first time I had goosebumps ever playing something I realized that what I actually want is to be able to convey emotion to the audience, like Heifetz did, or Kreisler. I listen to a great recording or a performance and I'm captivated by it.

Practicing on the violin is like nothing else and the feeling of accomplishment is also unique - never have I felt such joy climbing the octaves to reach the top note way up on Mt. Everest, yet physically it's right there. There's no exertion or fatigue.

May 9, 2019, 1:03 AM · For me definitely orchestra where I am now the concertmaster (means not much given the low level of our ensemble). I expect myself to play the parts cleanly, also all the nasty passages, and that motivate me to keep my technique up, scales, exercises, etudes, etc. I am however getting more and more frustrated that many violinists in our orchestra simply never practice their parts. They come to some rehearsals, also skip quite a few, and then seem to have no qualms participating in the concert although their sound is miserable and they simply stop playing whenever it gets too technical. Would appreciate getting tips on how to deal with this, after all, we are all amateurs, we are all humans, so it is a touchy subject.
May 9, 2019, 2:11 AM · Jean, as a teacher of many adult beginners, I can say that the average adult player just doesn't care as much as we do. For them, it's just a hobby, something fun to do. Of course, this keeps the $$$ coming for me, but can be frustrating at times.

My suggestion is if you want them to practice, hold sectionals every week. Most people don't like practicing alone, but they'll happily practice in groups, especially under supervision, since they can simply ask questions instead of having to figure answers out for themselves.

Also, sectionals will make it a little more obvious when a particular person doesn't practice, so they'll probably be more motivated to do so in the future if they know they're going to be exposed every week.

It's also possible that people don't actually know they're bad. This happens more than you would think. And to be honest, there's no great way of telling someone this, because if they haven't already figured it out, you mentioning it to them isn't going to help.

May 9, 2019, 2:39 AM · Erik: "Jean, as a teacher of many adult beginners, I can say that the average adult player just doesn't care as much as we do. For them, it's just a hobby, something fun to do."
Out of curiosity Erik what are the approximate ratios of poorly, moderately and highly motivated adult beginner? And do you have enough students to also compare the (long gap, meaning not just a year or two) returners?
May 9, 2019, 3:22 AM · Unfortunately, I have to second everything that Erik says. Having been principal violist in that kind of orchestra, I found that the only way to deal with that frustration was to get out and find a more serious orchestra. (And I didn't even have your frustration because the viola section was more serious and significantly more competent than the rest of the strings. I would have been happy with that section if not for literally everyone except me moving out of town the same summer.) That orchestra also had a Dunning-Kruger aspect to it where the worst players in the orchestra were the ones who thought they were the best; they were also older players who openly pooh-poohed the idea that anyone without gray hair could possibly have any understanding of music. Again, leaving was easier than arguing. As it turned out, the concertmaster of that orchestra left after a few frustrating years, started her own mid-level, moderately serious community orchestra, and got most of the more serious musicians to follow her.

If you have a critical mass of more serious players, you may be able to get people to show up to sectionals. As long as enough people are serious about the music, they'll create social pressure for others to show up.

But beyond holding sectionals, I'm not optimistic about changing the overall culture because even non-auditioned orchestras in any given area tend to sort themselves by level of commitment. Even when you have a whole bunch of more serious musicians, it's hard to change the culture in a casual orchestra without alienating a lot of people and possibly splitting the orchestra into two. The latter is basically what happened in the casual orchestra I played in.

Edited: May 9, 2019, 5:14 AM · It's the natural love of music - esp. Strings music. And then you would listen to a lot of those music, thinking day and night how to play those music by yourself, and you will in turn try your best to create chances/reasons to play violin - community orchestra, my own band, playing for church, and even teaching. If you love it very much, you would create these "reasons"!
May 9, 2019, 8:01 AM · Krista Moyer wrote:

" It's very meditative for me and works almost as well as a long run to improve my emotional state."

More or less this. Like running, practicing violin is a good way to escape the rest of life for a small while. But unlike running, it occupies the mind more fully. When I'm running alone, my mind often drifts back to life or work issues I'm trying to solve. But when I'm practicing violin, my mind has to concentrate solely on the violin. So in that sense, opening the violin case is like leaving for a very short vacation.

May 9, 2019, 10:49 AM · What keeps me motivated? The community orchestra that I'm in (same one as Karen) prepares 3 concerts per year, so I'm motivated to practice the rep for that. Also, I look for opportunities to perform solo (Mendelssohn and Bruch with my orchestra) or with a quartet/quintet (usually made up of members of my orchestra). So those performances keep me motivated as well!
Edited: May 9, 2019, 11:29 AM · Elise, there aren't any good stats on this. Certainly there are some amateurs who are very dedicated and others who aren't. I played in a community orchestra as a teenager too and it was the same then, so I'm not seeing any kind of downward trend.

My observation is that the culture of effort has to "come from the top." That means the director and the principals. In my research group, I have some very hard-working students but I still work harder than any one of them and they know it. When your conductor can't be bothered to number his measures or even cue entrances, that's not something that makes you want to go home and shed your part.

With some orchestras, there are people who just don't belong there. If you're going to be playing Ruslan & Ludmilla or Karelia Suite, you can't be seating Book 3 level violinists. Then you'll have people who don't practice their parts because to do so would be totally pointless. Community orchestras need to pick music at the median skill level of their members, or perhaps even a notch lower. Ensemble and musicality can always be improved even if the parts are technically quite easy.

May 9, 2019, 2:11 PM · .. or they pick higher-level music and let the weak fall by the wayside. I've seen a couple of orchestras like that that do not have auditions.
Edited: May 9, 2019, 3:04 PM · ".. or they pick higher-level music and let the weak fall by the wayside. I've seen a couple of orchestras like that that do not have auditions."

When the concertmaster I was talking about left to form her own mid-level orchestra, that's basically what she did. The new orchestra was still non-auditioned, but whereas the casual orchestra considered Schubert's Rosamunde Overture to be a hugely ambitious undertaking and has only ever played one full symphony (by Haydn) in its entire 25+ year existence, the new mid-level orchestra played Beethoven and Mendelssohn symphonies in its first year. That weeded out all the weaker members, except for two or three adult beginners who had the same attitude that I started out with.

I'm guessing that's how non-auditioned orchestras end up sorting themselves in other places too.

May 9, 2019, 4:30 PM · I dislike the artificial dichotomy between amateur and professional musicians and would opt for avocational instead. If the OP's question can be restated as t: what motivates you to play when you do not have to do it to earn a living? The love of music. The awareness that music making and being in a position to play this instrument is a privilege and blessing. It is joy to play, as simple as that.
May 9, 2019, 11:49 PM · I would distinguish the people in community-orchestra string sections by both whether or not they're capable of playing the parts accurately and musically, and whether or not they practice. The intersection of those two things effectively determines the degree to which the player sounds prepared. I used to be a slacker in my community orchestras; I'd practice the parts a bit, but didn't want to put in the woodshed time to nail every note, especially in more difficult works.

i feel like I want a private FB group for community/semi-pro concertmasters to discuss things in a non-public forum. :-)

May 10, 2019, 9:54 AM · The separation/dichotomy between the wheat and the chaff (pro vs amateur) is a little silly. It puts us "chaff" (amateurs) in the bin despite the fact there are those of us amateurs who take our instruments quite seriously. Regardless of the common language that's used -for better or worse- being able to play an instrument, especially when one doesn't have to do it for work, is a great privilege.
May 10, 2019, 10:21 AM · "i feel like I want a private FB group for community/semi-pro concertmasters to discuss things in a non-public forum. :-) "

The obvious answer is to make one - but maybe you have the same experience as I, that you need a critical mass to make a FB page viable - enough members to 'like' and even more enough members that will actually respond and (the rarest) originate topics. Unfortunately, as you are no doubt aware the latter would be hard to achieve...

May 10, 2019, 10:37 AM · Exactly. The community isn't huge to begin with -- probably a few thousand people worldwide -- and there's also a pro/am divide, as many community orchestra concertmasters are paid ringers.
Edited: May 10, 2019, 8:45 PM · "The love of music. The awareness that music making and being in a position to play this instrument is a privilege and blessing. It is joy to play, as simple as that."

I like that. It could be simplified to the first four words too.

May 13, 2019, 10:45 AM · I play in my spare "bedroom" which is a workspace for my husband and I. It is filled with all sorts of creative projects and storage for said projects - it is truly a workspace in that regard, an indoor garage of sorts...

Sometimes I play in my bedroom, but my little corner in the "studio" is set up juust right for my practice: shelf space for my music and miscellaneous items (metronomes, extra chamois, etc.), table, bench with my case on it, a chair for when I am too tired for standing practice, a rug to stand on, and my stand with light and pencil clippy thing. I often wish that my space was nicer looking, and more roomy, but it is a workspace not a living space - and I'm lucky to have that in NYC! (And my neighbors have yet to complain about my recent sans-mute late night -past 10pm!- practice sessions. Must be all the stuff in the room blocking the sound, ha.)

Edited: May 13, 2019, 3:41 PM · My 2nd "bedroom" serves as study/reading/playing space. I've a nice corner set up with a large mirror mounted for mirror bowing exercises, stand, light, table for books and such. My desk chair is a good height if I feel like sitting down rather than standing. The room is almost too full, but it's nice to have a less public section of my apartment set aside for playing. You can see part of it in my avatar for this forum.

Thankfully either the soundproofing in my bldg is better than expected or my usual practice times fall when neighbors aren't home. They've never heard me and am playing much more loudly than at one time. I suspect they just aren't home.

May 13, 2019, 12:59 PM · I started back, as I've written about some other places, to keep my newly widowed father company as playing his cello was one of the few things keeping him going, so I got a loaner, $25/month to see if I could still play and we began playing duets. He was thrilled and I was very surprised to discover that after 40+ years (18-59) I could still play. I got more and more into it, bought a better violin, took a few lessons, went to a few pick up chamber groups and i'm hooked. My goal is to be able to comfortable play loads of chamber music and keep up with others. I also now deeply enjoy practicing, very unlike when i was young and it was a chore. Now the problem solving, unbundling the challenges, working on them, putting them back together, totally holds my interest (and blocks out any other concern or worry!) and noting progress is so satisfying.
Edited: May 13, 2019, 2:35 PM · I had lessons today. And it was a pleasure. After quite some time I felt for the first time again improving,shifts were nicer, not a lush vibrato but not choked as well, better tone (a lot of g string which my violin likes).
My sixth year starts in summer and the last year sometimes felt like walking in circles.
So thanks to all the encouraging friendly teachers, helping us to get over our intermediate woodshedding blues.
Edited: May 13, 2019, 4:20 PM · Timothy - I've 3 light sources outside of my window and Mighty Bright Orchestra light. I really appreciated the helpful discussion about stand lighting a few months back. I need all the above turned on but, for now, that's enough light. I can reference that thread if and when I might need more...I also had to get "music stand" glasses as I couldn't see the music in my regular progressive lenses :-)

There is something nice about having that dedicated space in which to relax. I've made good progress in this corner of my world in the last 6 months as my teacher has me focusing on both beginning, and not-so-beginning techniques, all at the same time which keeps me challenged and interested without allowing me to jump too far ahead. He knows how to draw it out of me, for which I'm thankful - and yes - thanks to all to the encouraging friendly teachers here and elsewhere!

Edited: May 13, 2019, 9:01 PM · The violin and piano literature keeps me going. I really enjoy performing with a pianist friend. We've played some early Beethoven Sonatas, some modern classical works, tangos, and themes from movie soundtracks. In general, I prefer works where the two instruments are more or less equal partners. Lately, I've started exploring Schubert's sonatinas and I'm really enjoying the process (these works remind me of Mozart). In my youth I remember being focused on concerto movements as opposed to sonatas (with the exception of Bach and a Brahms sonata movement, which was the All State audition piece!). But I was fortunate to have a very talented violin teacher who could also play the piano parts a high level. I wonder if many teachers nowadays accompany their students on piano. I think it was helpful in learning to play with others.
Edited: May 13, 2019, 10:43 PM · What keeps me motivated?

When I was really young: playing outside with my friends. Because I couldn't play with my friends until I had practised the violin for half an hour.

Later on: same as others have mentioned: the beauty of the music; duo - ensemble - orchestra playing.

Also when I was younger and just got a beautiful violin that actually was responsive: improvising.

And in my early twenties: getting a concerto from the music library and going at it for hours ; skipping sometimes the most difficult passages. Then when it had to be returned after 6 weeks play it by heart although over time there were deviations from the original.

And listening to lots of music, often on youtube or CDs.

One thing that gets me going now: if a soloist plays a particularly beautiful passage. I get my fiddle out and try to copy it. Sometimes for long stretches of time. Just to get a better line and a better tone, vibrato, more clarity, more sweetness or more intensity etc.

Right now I'm working on the doublestop passage in Sibelius Adagio, and the majestic 16s after it that get so intense.

Playing ensemble parts with youtube.

Unfortunately my friend and mentor, Robert Bardston, died last year. We did a number of gigs and performances over the years, went to orchestra together and whenever I was practising a piece, mostly Bach solo, I ran it by him and took some lessons. It was a privilege to have known him and be taught by him. He had an amazing insight in music, was a great musician, teacher and motivator.

May 13, 2019, 10:29 PM · This passionate violin teacher answers your question between 01:37 and 03:30 of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCffzTjvZWI
She says what does she love the most about her job and tells an inspiring story! Very motivating!
Edited: May 14, 2019, 8:31 AM · A few years ago I started irregularly watching The Voice on TV and became impressed by the relaxed familiarity with the music-making process that the professional performers had relative to the amateurs, that gave real life to their performances relative to the otherwise-excellent amateurs on the show.

I decided that I would try to accomplish this in some way, and my process has been to practice mostly just one thing at a time (along with some less-serious fun playing) until I could play it backwards, forwards, upside down without thinking and then start to perfect it and play with what I was doing, on the fly.

I've been at this for just a year, and have just two short pieces to this stage, but it's affected my comfort level and whole relationship with my instrument in a really good way, some of it similar to ear training where I just "know" where things are on the instrument when faced with something new, and there's been bleed out to pieces I knew in the past, how much easier to play them and find the notes without quite remembering what the old finger patterns were. This has been really freeing in terms of how I am sounding, more like someone who knows what he's doing. :-)

My plan for the future is to develop this further so that the time to learn something new decreases to a more reasonable period, then build a repertoire of more pieces that I feel comfortable with. And then to extend that to a different instrument.

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