Why does one start learning violin?

April 26, 2020, 11:26 AM ·  https://i.imgur.com/hSmVGzB.jpg Ask any musician for what good reason they began on the violin, and the most widely recognized answer is likely that a parent had them take exercises when they were youngsters. Be that as it may, inquire as to why a player who is still effectively playing the violin today, "What props you up?" The appropriate responses are unending.

The rich tones that enter both the ear, your head, neck, chest—the sheer physical closeness—of a violin is something very extraordinary. Mitigating, energizing, satisfying, and periodically testing, there is a sort of happiness that separates it from the guitar and other stringed instruments. Maybe it is actually that—the physical commitment of the violin to your jawline, the tones and vibrations all through the two arms, through your fingers and the case… essentially inebriating.

Presently, some liken the violin as a "traditional music" instrument. In any case, any player deserving at least some respect will disclose to you how they have a great time, fiddling with Asian, Middle Eastern, just as old style music. Rapidly reflect and you can presumably name about six stone, pop, Americana, and jazz tunes that highlight a violin. Groups and craftsmen like The Eagles, Kansas, Michael Bublé, R.E.M., Alicia Keys, without any end in sight, have fused violins to lead or back their sytheses, contributing forcefully to a tune's immortality.

Notwithstanding type or period, a violin can lift well known music, keeping a Top 40 jingle from turning out to be such a great amount of "Residue in the Wind." (Sorry, couldn't help it.)

The fact of the matter is, be it rock, society, Persian, Arabic, or klezmer, you'll discover violins by the drove!

Replies (16)

April 27, 2020, 12:25 AM · Why do music? Music does not need a justification outside of itself.
Why choose Violin? In my case at age 11 I wanted to play an instrument, so my dad took me to the very small local music store. They had three instruments on the wall, a trumpet, a clarinet, and a violin. I blew in the Trumpet and nothing happened. the Clarinet- again nothing. I moved the bow on the violin string and it made a sound. I said to myself "this one works, I'll do this one." All during middle and high school, the one hour a day practice was an escape from everything else. As an adult musician, the motivation comes from wanting to play certain pieces, usually beyond my technique.
Edited: April 27, 2020, 12:49 AM · I never had music in my family at early age. I picked up guitar age 18 or so, played it for 10 years, got bored and wanted something new. I had listened some wind instrument stuff, especially the air synths like EWI, and wondered if I could play one of those. However, I didn't want to spend so much money into an instrument I might not like and tried one of those awful, horrid 15€ recorders we had to play in elementary school.

Turns out it was the right call. A birth defect in my mouth/nose prevents me from blowing into wind instruments without the air escaping from my nose, so that option was off the table. I then considered piano, but couldn't figure out a way to play one in my apartment building. Of course there were electric pianos and keyboards, yet I abandoned that line of thinking upon seeing the prices people pay for ones with weighted keys.

So what was there left? I didn't want to do percussion or drums. Then I remembered I had seen an orchestra at some point and they played string instruments. I didn't know anything about them or string instrument music, so I contacted a music school and started the Suzuki method. That was 3 years ago.

As to why keep playing... Well, whenever two strings join to play in harmony, that has to be the most beautiful sound humans can make.

April 27, 2020, 5:35 AM · Why play violin? I agree with Joel that playing music needs no justification other than the music itself. I play many instruments (some of them very well) and I have to say that every instrument has a special charm for me. The physical sensations of each instrument are very different from other instruments.
My journey to the violin came after I fell in love with a violinist. Shortly after we started dating, she helped me pick out an inexpensive instrument from a local maker who was selling at a discount to raise money to buy tools and supplies for a bow-making course he wanted to take. I learned some on it but never developed very far as marriage, going into business for myself, having children all got in the way. Fast forward many years and I decided to take up mandolin (an easy switch for me from guitar) and I found myself picking out Suzuki tunes that I had spent the previous 30 years hearing my wife teach and helping my children learn. Then the lightbulb flashed on in my mind that if I could do that on the mandolin, I should get out my old cheap violin and try them on that. So I started playing again, with some excellent coaching from my wife. I've gradually moved on to better instruments and found my real love on the violin are Celtic/Folk/Old-Time tunes, which I will sit and play by the hour.

The physical sensations from playing the violin are wonderful and I'm glad I finally arrived at this instrument, even though later in life. But I get just as much physical pleasure from playing trumpet (my main instrument), recorder, sax, flute, clarinet, percussion. Each one unique, each one very enjoyable.

Not everybody enjoys the physical sensations of the various instruments, and might find one very objectionable while loving a different one.

Some people choose an instrument for no better reason than that a friend has already started playing it. Others choose an instrument because a parent insists on it (often resulting in an early exit from the musical world). Others choose an instrument because of specific pieces they have as a goal to be able to play.

The reason really isn't important as long as the person enjoys the journey and finds personal worth in the process.

As they say, different strokes for different folks.

Edited: April 27, 2020, 2:39 PM · A little over over twenty years ago my mother gave me the family heirloom, a violin that had been in the family for 150 years, with instructions that I should take lessons and learn to play it. Which I did. The unanticipated result six years later was that my presence as a cellist in local orchestras was replaced with my presence as a violinist. Whether in the firsts or seconds is unimportant, I just enjoy it.
April 27, 2020, 7:43 AM · When I was very young I wanted to do everything my older brothers were doing. They were getting music lessons (violin and piano) so I did too.
April 27, 2020, 3:06 PM · Jascha Heifetz snuck into my youtube recommended.
April 27, 2020, 3:51 PM · for a LOT of violinists the answer will be "I was a little child, I had to pick an instrument, I chose the violin".
Edited: April 27, 2020, 4:26 PM · Every day from the time I was first aware, I was aware that after my father came home from work he played his violin. Then for my 4th birthday his father gave me a violin as a present. I played it every day from then on, probably much of the day. We lived in a first floor apartment on 176th Street on the west side of Manhattan (actually within feet of a place you can often see in the background during the weather report of the daily ABC national evening news) and I would stand on the toybox, in front of the window of the bedroom I shared with my baby sister and play the violin, watching the people walk by and thinking they watched me. After hearing the noises I made for 6 months my parents asked my if I wanted to take violin lessons. Assuming this would teach me to play the way my father did, I said "yes."
That was 1938 - '39.

That's why I started learning violin.

Edited: April 27, 2020, 7:58 PM · I'm thinking, but I'm not certain that it was Frank Zappa who said that the reason young males aspire to be rock musicians is because they want to meet girls. He said that was true whether they're willing to admit it or not. It's probably the same for violinists. ;)
April 27, 2020, 5:44 PM · I loved music since I can remember. I had a little keyboard my parents bought before I was born. I enjoyed playing it as a little kid and started piano lessons. Then, after hearing some talk from friends or something (don't remember clearly anymore), I took up violin and then I took up viola another few years later to help out the local viola shortage. Play all three regularly to this day.
Edited: April 29, 2020, 3:55 AM · "it was Frank Zappa who said that the reason young males aspire to be rock musicians is because they want to meet girls. He said that was true whether they're willing to admit it or not. It's probably the same for violinists. ;)"

Most kids who start learning the violin ARE girls, so I don't think that male-centric thought from fifty years ago applies...

April 29, 2020, 8:27 AM · I tell my students, and particularly their parents, that there is only one valid "reason" for playing the violin - Because you want to.

Exposure helps the decision. Way back in my Jr. High days, the music teacher made all of us attempt to play every instrument in the orchestra. You did not have to succeed but you did have to try. I learned that I hate the feeling of reeds in my mouth, that the flute was ok, the embouchure of the horn was too small, as was the trumpet, the tuba too large and the trombone just right but when we got to strings and the violin, something just clicked.

I grew up with Milton Cross on Saturday afternoons at the Metropolitan Opera, Leonard Bernstein and the Sunday morning program for young people, and, of course, all those Warner Bros. cartoons set to classical music.

My family did not have the resources to fund my incipient desire to play the violin - so that desire was on hold for a very long time till one day, getting a box of yarn out of the attic for my new Mother-in-Law I discovered her grandfather's violin. Found a teacher willing to start an adult, had the instrument restored and,... over 40 years later I still get that thrill when I learn a new piece of music or solve a problematic fingering or shift and always when I just let go and play out music that I love.

As Marie Kondo says: It gives me joy! Not for money, fame, or any other reason than that sense of joy from making music. That is why I play and why I teach young aspiring musicians who are in the same financial situation that my family was in back in the 1950's.

April 29, 2020, 11:26 AM · "...the reason young males aspire to be rock musicians is because they want to meet girls."

"Most kids who start learning the violin ARE girls, so I don't think that male-centric thought from fifty years ago applies..."

There are two questions implied: Why do CHILDREN start the violin? Why do TEENAGERS who excel go into overdrive in pursuing virtuosic excellence?

The situation is not so different for sports: Children start playing soccer or baseball because of their parents, but things change in middle and high school when the benefits of stardom become plain to see:
Popularity, especially with the opposite sex.

Interesting coincidence: Just yesterday I finished The Mating Mind by Geoffrey Miller. Fascinating reading for anyone interested in how the human mind, including language and art, may have had their origins.

I don't think it's a one-dimensional issue--people certainly have many reasons to pursue music, including the love of the literature itself. But our evolutionary past suggests that music performance and the drive to virtuosity of any kind are, I think, very much human manifestations of the Peacock's tail.

April 30, 2020, 9:49 AM · I don't fully remember, unfortunately. My parents are pianists, and I think, they assume a serious musician would either play the piano or the violin (because of the amount of great repertoire for either of those).
I heard that a cousin of my father's, a violinist, stayed with them for a couple of months, and he gave them a little quarter size violin as a gift, so I could start.
I think I didn't have much of a choice. Probably they asked me if I wanted to play the violin, but how could I have said no to that? I had to start with an 1/8 size, first, in order to grow up to that (pretty mediocre) 1/4 size.

Later, I also learned to play the piano, but although I got pretty advanced on it, it always felt on being second place, only. I never managed to sight read well, on the piano, for example, that being the main reason why I couldn't see a future for myself as a professonal pianist.

I regard the violin as being like a part of myself, like my voice. That doesn't mean, it is my favorite instrument. I like to listen to solo piano music much more than to violin or orchestral music.
That doesn't make me unhappy, though. Imagine a female singer who loves the deep bass sounds of her male colleagues the best, and still sings her soprano parts beautifully.

For my children, I tried to make sure they had a really free choice, for whatever reasons. So, trombone and viola, respectively, were chosen by my sons. When the youngest kid wanted to play the cello, though, I experienced how it feels when you have prejudices against your child's choice. I had never been very interested in the cello, and I only saw disadvantages: first, the instrument and everything you need for it, is sooo expensive! And, when you reach full size, it is not cute, anymore, and you always have issues with transporting it.
But as my daughter kept wishing to play the cello, persistantly, she was allowed to do so, and is really working hard on it, ever since.

Edited: April 30, 2020, 7:01 PM · I got into classical music (and eventually violin and viola) mostly as a result of reverse culture shock. I grew up in Dubai in the late 1980s and early 1990s; although American pop culture reached there, in the days before widespread internet access it was 5-10 years behind the US. Returning to the US in 1995, going into 8th grade, and finding that I had never heard of the bands my classmates were listening to, I made a conscious decision to turn toward classical and jazz, genres that seemed to steadfastly ignore the latest fashions. Not that I'd had much more exposure to classical music at the time -- access to Western classical music in Dubai was minimal until around 2000. But that led me first to classical radio, and then to attending a symphony concert with a friend's family and hearing string instruments in person for the first time.

At first I just wanted to play for fun, but what made me really serious about pursuing excellence was being rejected by multiple teachers over the next three years because I was supposedly too old (at in my early to mid teens!) to learn a string instrument. I was told that the window for learning the basic technique had already closed, and that I had little chance of getting past beginner level or even being able to play in a community orchestra for fun. Being told you can't do something can be a great motivator!

And now I've been playing viola for more than half of my life and can't imagine not playing. I have a long musical bucket list of pieces I want to play, including orchestral, chamber, and solo repertoire. I sometimes can't believe how much of it I've already crossed off; one of my proudest moments was completing the Beethoven symphony cycle.

April 30, 2020, 7:42 PM · I started learning because I wanted to be different to everyone else in my class. I should say guitar was the most popular instrument at that time. There was me and one other girl playing the violin then. At secondary (high) school, I was the only one who had lessons properly

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

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

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

Find an Online Music Camp
Find an Online Music Camp

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases



Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins


Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop

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