Research Paper about Violinists

Edited: May 11, 2023, 12:17 PM · Hi everyone! I am currently writing a research paper about violinists. I am a violin player myself, I have been playing for 9 years now and I wanted to make a post to ask everyone what their occupation is and their relationship to violin. How does playing affect your life? What was your biggest struggle while playing? and any other comments you want to add Thank you guys!

Replies (13)

Edited: May 15, 2023, 2:36 AM ·

I'm a retired statistician. (Math stuff.) I worked for research oriented, and high-tech companies like the Armour Research Center, Intel, a printed circuit board company, Baxter Healthcare, etc.

I began violin in 6th grade, played in high school orchestras, majored in music for year (though, graduated in Physics), and played in various college orchestras off and on, until I drifted away from the violin in the late 1970's.

I became interested in playing violin again near the beginning of the decade. After experimenting with a couple of internet violins, I ended up purchasing quite a nice violin from my luthier.

I've been taking lessons for a couple of years, and I like opting to play in a local orchestra for occasional concerts. While lessons help musicians improve, I find that I also take them just for the involvement that they offer me in music.

I have a degree in photography (as well), and I was all set to be involved in photography during my retirement. I am still pursuing that artistic direction. But, I find that my life is so much more fulfilled by having reintroduced myself to music in the way that I have. For me, it's been a huge win.

Edited: May 15, 2023, 2:40 AM · I'm interested in your project but can't answer a question which is so open-ended. Unless you simply want to collect a bundle of anecdotes, some short, some life-story long, you need to be more focused and specific.
May 15, 2023, 3:38 AM · What Steve said. If you're writing about everything, you're writing about nothing. Figure out exactly what your topic is, and come up with a questionnaire that focuses on that.
May 15, 2023, 3:53 AM · Although I agree with Steve and Andrew, we have to be lenient - educational systems vary greatly. In Britain, the tendency in academia is towards more depth and narrowness (the joke is that one day an academic will know everything about nothing).
In other systems in a conservatory, such essays ("research papers") may be just deliberately vague ways to get a student to interact more with their instrument and its ethos. I guess I'm speculating because of the vagueness, and I like to give people the benefit of the doubt.
May 15, 2023, 4:35 AM · Agreeing fully with Steve, Andrew and Gordon: I feel you need a lot more focus. For example, do you want a particular kind of violinist: performing professionals, teachers, amateurs, over-50s/retired? Is it a qualitative or quantitative study? Can your sample's responses be anonymized? (Difficult when the data have been submitted on an open site!) As Gordon says, it's difficult to see whether this is simply a 'write & reflect on something' or a research paper conducted on a more strict methodology. You might consider setting up a dedicated email for submissions and which you can use for further enquiry. On that basis I'd be willing to answer questions. Don't be daunted or dismayed: most people on this site are helpful and happy to share their ideas and experience!

Here is a link that might be helpful to you, though the institution where you are studying may have already given you some similar guidance, or other criteria for the essay.

May 15, 2023, 1:31 PM · I agree with Steve, Andrew, Jeff, Susan, Gordon, Miles, Jennifer, Sameer, Hiroyuki, and Alphonse (just anticipating what some will say in the future).

I'm a chemistry professor in the US and I play and study the violin as a hobby. I play in a string quartet club, and two orchestras, and I enjoy my lessons, my practicing, and my rehearsals.

May 17, 2023, 12:18 PM · Part 1 of 2

Thanks Sarai, for the provocation to reflect on the impact violin has on me. I decided to learn violin just 8 years ago, at age 49. Much of my time has been “self-taught,” during which I learned to read music (though not playing in good time) and to find the notes on the fingerboard, and roughing out some sheet music, mostly baroque sonatas. Within the first year I decided to focus on early baroque, buying lots of 17th century sheet music and using only gut strings, throwing away the chin rest and shoulder rest. After about 3 and a half years, I felt I’d hit a wall blocking further progress. I bought a brand new baroque-style violin (from the Charlie Ogle Workshop via Boulder Early Music Shop online) and found a fantastic teacher who specializes in early violin. She herself was a Yale undergraduate at that time, and will graduate in 2 days from Juilliard with a master’s in violin historical performance.

Despite a few relatively brief youthful attempts to learn an instrument (sax in 6th grade, guitar several times), I always abandoned the project out of frustration with my lack of progress and perceived lack of musicality. Of course I didn’t practice enough, but what is “enough” and, perhaps more importantly, why didn’t I just not give up? Because I realize now that if I hadn’t given up on guitar those decades ago, I would be able to play it now. This time, with the violin (and, since 2018, also the bass viol), I am committed to never quit, no matter what periods of discouragement come and go. And I’m committed to regular lessons on each instrument. And I’m committed to daily practice on at least one instrument, and both on a good day.

May 17, 2023, 12:19 PM · Part 2 of 2

Although I have 2 degrees in History and a few grad certificates in other fields, I have worked as a solar electrician for the past 15 years, shunning sedentary jobs to carry solar panels up the ladder and across slanted roofs. This keeps me in excellent physical condition, but can mean I’m tired in the evening and thus practice less than I wish. I’m also a dad of a special needs son and heat my house 100% with wood I cut and split myself, so I don’t beat myself up for practicing less than I wish. I’m grateful for the full life I have.

Over the past 8 years, my brain and emotional state have grown in more diverse and resilient ways, due to the focus and mind-body coordination required to study instruments. I have always been a voracious reader with long attention span and ability to hold focus without distraction, but music seems to require a very different cognition than reading. I believe it has given me patience and calm, and brought me into a side of life that is not verbal or even fully conscious. My goals in music are to start or join various amateur early music ensembles, playing for ourselves, our friends and families, and hopefully some local audiences. I hope to someday bring music to people shut in by illness or old age, and maybe also at local taverns or parties, if there might be an audience for consort music from the 16 and 17th centuries.

May 17, 2023, 1:33 PM · You may be collating anecdotes but please don't call it a research paper. The results will be skewed by so many factors - for example, the subset of violinists that are members of; the ones that like to communicate; the ones with an interesting story; etc etc.

Maybe you are gathering stories to be used in a book or something? At the very least you should share what the purpose of your 'research' is. Clearly its not a scientific project (see above) and I guess also that you do not intend to respect the privacy or intellectual content of the people that reply.

So more information on your objective here please.

May 17, 2023, 2:28 PM · I'm curious, Elise, what "privacy" or "intellectual Content" could be violated if such information is first being voluntarily disclosed on a public forum? You and the other commenters above have offered relevant insights towards what makes a good "research paper," but I'm happy to leave such advice to the writing teacher, and happy enough to just answer the questions as asked by a fellow violinist. Or to a "" internet forum (where I'd have less interest hanging out myself).
May 17, 2023, 3:10 PM · I think Elise's point is that asking for something from people you don't know can come with the reasonable expectation of disclosing the terms of the exchange, and disclosing the terms transparently is a sign of a sincere collaborative attitude.

But really, the problem is that it's going to be a nearly useless paper if it doesn't include MY input, which is unfortunate.

May 23, 2023, 9:17 AM · Hello Sarai, As you can see from earlier responses, violinists often excel in other activities, and many violinists are very opinionated. So here's my quick story.

I played violin in elementary and middle schools, but my high school had only band - so I switched to string bass and played in a jazz band in high school. Many years later after retiring from managing high tech companies, I picked up my violin and took classical lessons for 5 years to build technique. Then I took improvisation lessons from teachers who play trumpet, guitar, piano, etc. to learn jazz improvisation. I've been playing jazz on the violin in local groups for over 15 years.

My two largest struggles have been: 1. putting in practice time - even though I enjoy the results, and 2. dealing with the tension that arises before I begin improvising (aka making it up) for an audience.

The impact on my life has been: 1. meeting and working with interesting and very talented people, the satisfaction of advancing in the magical mysterious art of improvising, and finding new and interesting ideas to explore in almost any song and any genre that I hear in any situation.

May 23, 2023, 10:56 PM · Elise's comments are spot on.

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