V.com weekend vote: What inspired you to start playing the violin (or other instrument)?

June 26, 2022, 11:25 PM · What inspired you to start playing the violin - or other instrument?

A few things inspired me - first, we didn't actually have a piano. If we had, I'm pretty sure I'd have been all over that thing, and I may never have noticed the violin!

But when my elementary school music teacher, Mrs. Walker, came around recruiting, I was a rather musically-hungry fourth-grader. She came to our little classroom and brought along a little girl my age named Sara, who played something on her violin, a tune she called the "Irish Jig." As I sat on the floor listening and watching, my eyes popped wide open and I felt something that I can describe only as "recognition." I HAVE to play that instrument!

rainbow violin revelation

I came home and announced this to my mother, and I think it was clear that letting me have my way on this one would be the path of least resistance.

So my answer to this vote would be that I was inspired by another student, as well as my school program.

I have spoken to many, many people about how they got started on the violin, and very often they started because a family member also played - a parent, or very often, an older sibling. And in a related way, some people start because of the encouragement of a parent, whether that parent plays or not.

Several people, including Melissa White, have told me that they were inspired by seeing a famous violinist on ...Sesame Street! White saw Itzhak Perlman, but many artists have shared their talents on that show, including Joshua Bell, Nadja Salerno Sonnenberg, Yo-Yo Ma, Israeli hip-hop violinist Miri Ben-Ari, and probably quite a few others!

The sound of the violin - recordings played by parents or discovered in a search for good music - can also lead to playing the instrument. Or, a trip to a children's concert at the local symphony can inspire one to want to play.

What inspired you to start playing? Was it a performance by someone? The desire to be part of a program? The desire to play music? A fascination with the instrument itself? Please participate in the vote and then tell us all about it in the comments.

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Replies

June 27, 2022 at 04:29 AM · Hearing a recording of Yehudi Menuhin playing Mozart's 3rd and 5th with the Bath Festival Orchestra. I have the album cover on my bedroom wall today, pigeons and all.

June 27, 2022 at 09:26 AM · I voted "Parental encouragement".

My mother played the piano. Each week a violinist visited our home and played with my mother, so I knew the instruments. I started getting piano lessons for a couple of years. During that time my parents often asked "what about playing the violin?". And I started thinking that I would probably take up the violin sooner or later. And that actually happened.

June 27, 2022 at 09:31 AM · My fascination with and love for the violin started on seeing a violinist, Yehudi menuhin as i've deduced, playing with an orchestra and loving the sound. My actual playing came about because I was playing another instrument, the lap steel guitar, with a church band, and finding I was lacking somewhat in skill and music reading, amongst other things. The famous pedal steel guitar player Buddy Emmons learnt the piano to conquer his lack of music reading skills: I took up the violin. :)

June 27, 2022 at 01:21 PM · I started on guitar and piano, as an undergraduate I could not get near a piano they were always being used, I needed a new second instrument and so started the violin in a house full of students taking their finals. A few years later I realised that the violin was the instrument for me. I wonder what would have happened if I started young.

June 27, 2022 at 01:46 PM · I always loved music, had the best LP collection in my high school, went to the most rock concerts as a teenage...but dropped saxaphone lessons and guitar lessons because I "didn't have talent" and that of course meant I didn't have discipline or appreciate the need to practice. Real artists only seem to be born that way, in reality even the talented (of which I am not) must cultivate skills. This time around, at age 49 (7 years ago), I had come to appreciate all that, weighed the violin as my favorite musical instrument, and took the leap accordingly. So here I am slogging through my exercises and watching kids play circles around me. it's okay, as time passes I slowly get better, and I intend to take care of myself for a long time.

June 27, 2022 at 01:50 PM · For me, it’s a toss up between “Parental encouragement“ and “Watching a violinist perform on T.V., video or live.”

I started as a child because my mom gave me a “choice” between violin or piano. I chose violin but hated the forced practice sessions.

Years later as an adult, it was hearing a violinist at church and friends playing guitar that brought me back to playing an instrument and the violin.

I went with “Watching a violinist perform on T.V., video or live” because that’s what caused me voluntarily pick up the instrument.

June 27, 2022 at 01:53 PM · Some of my hearers might use a word other than "inspired" - "possessed", perhaps?

June 27, 2022 at 02:06 PM · I started on the recorder, aged 7 or 8, learning the basics of how to read the treble clef, but having attended several of the Robert Mayer childrens' concerts at the RFH in the 50s with my dad, I wanted to be part of the action. My aunt, who had been at the RAM in the 30s, but had abandoned studies because her income (as a secretary!) was needed during the depression, had kept her fiddle on top of the wardrobe. She offered it to me and I was hooked. The ambition was - and still is - to play with others. It still remains: concert last Saturday with NEO, and still on a high!

June 27, 2022 at 02:38 PM · Watching a violinist, actually a group of them in a pro orchestra, perform live at my elementary school. That really jump-started my ambition to play violin. Now I not only heard but saw how these players brought to life some of the scores I'd already heard at home on recordings and radio.

I started piano lessons at 7 y/o but hadn't gotten beyond basics when the violin muse got hold of me. The sound of the instrument got me hooked as I listened to recordings of major violin concertos and solo pieces.

I began fingering and bowing familiar tunes by ear on a half-sized fiddle. I couldn't explain now how I managed to pull this off, but somehow I did. Thanks to piano lessons, I could read music; so I started reading and playing from my first violin instruction book. I did both of these things - playing by ear, then reading - before I had my first teacher. At our first lesson, some weeks later, she was very pleased.

So violin was my second instrument, but it's the only one I can play fluently. What happened in my case was a little like what happens when you acquire a second language at an early age - and then the second language takes over. The first language is still there, but I no longer use it or think in terms of it.

June 27, 2022 at 02:47 PM · Junior High before Kennedy was elected President. The local school board voted to make art and music five day a week classes. The music teacher responded by dividing his lesson plan into five 10 minute classes followed by an everyone attempts to play every instrument in an orchestra. After my turn on the violin I was hooked.

My father's response was "When you can afford it, you can do it." He was correct, just married in my late 20's getting some yarn from my Mother-In-Law's attic I found her grandfather's violin next to the yarn box. I got the violin restored to playable condition, found a teacher willing to start an adult, achieved my goals and got convinced to go further than I ever dreamed possible.

I do love "Classical" Music thanks to Warner Brothers Cartoons, Leonard Bernstein's children's concerts on TV and my father's family tradition of listening to the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday afternoons on the radio sponsored by Texaco and hosted by Milton Cross.

This is why I provide free violin lessons to children who cannot get private lessons in my retirement.

June 27, 2022 at 06:09 PM · To be entirely honest it was probably a mixture of almost all of the option we are voting on.

I'll say this though: My parents really wanted my brother and myself to play an instrument but left the choice of instrument entirely to us, did not try to influence us at all (though they were glad when neither of us chose the piano).

June 27, 2022 at 06:31 PM · When I was little, my parents used to play violin duets together. I remember both the sound they made and the fun they had together. I wanted to do that too!

June 27, 2022 at 06:46 PM · My first exposure to a musical instrument is a digital keyboard my Mom bought before I was born. It became one of my most significant toys when I was a toddler and then I started piano lessons at age 4. I added violin 3 years later, I don't remember why but I think someone suggested it to me and I wanted to try. Needs in ensembles led me to take up viola a few years later and I'm happily playing all three regularly ever since.

June 28, 2022 at 12:35 AM · I started learning the violin in order to play the viola.

Although I had piano lessons starting when I was 5, I had very little exposure to classical music other than solo piano music because I mostly grew up in Dubai, where there were no Western string instruments until the mid-1990s. I discovered classical radio in 8th grade, shortly after moving back to the United States, and then first saw string instruments being played a few months later at a symphony concert where the Walton viola concerto was on the program.

I wanted to start learning the viola first, but ended up starting on violin because a violin that had belonged to a long-deceased great-uncle, was available to me for free. It still took a while to get started. My school district had no beginner-level string programs at any grade level (school orchestras were selectively auditioned from day one), and I was rejected by multiple private teachers who said I was already too old to learn a string instrument even as a hobby. Eventually I gave up looking for a teacher, started self-teaching, and gradually worked my way up the ladder of community orchestras. I switched to viola when I was able to get one on loan for all four years of college, and have played viola almost exclusively since then.

June 28, 2022 at 03:17 PM · 1965.

That’s the year I first heard the Bach Double.

I didn’t know squat about violin.

Taking lessons now for around 5 yrs.

In August I’ll present all 3 movements at studio class.

I will have waited 57 years for this.

June 28, 2022 at 09:35 PM · Re ~ What Inspired You to start playing violin (or other Instrument?' {#16}

Very Simple!! My father was a superb violinist, protege of violinist, Michel Piastro, and his Juilliard Professor, Eduoard Dethier, artist pupil of Eugen Ysaye + Robert Donat. His own father, {my Grandfather, violinist in Josef Kripps San Francisco Symphony, and co teacher of a San Francisco Violin Teaching Studio with Naom Blinder, teacher of Isaac Stern; Menuhin for

awhile by Grandfather & Naom Blinder, until Yehudi Menuhin went to Persinger in NYC, & Grisha Gulaboff, Fellow Prodigy with Menuhin}, was teaching students at our home in suburban Los Angeles, & Poppa would play Violin/Piano Sonatas with Momma a lot which as a toddler, I do remember enjoying!! A 'Composer' @aged 2, my 1st little piece made up by myself was: "Momma, Tie My Shoes!" which both my parents thought 'charming'!

Realising being a composer was not my forte, I'm told I "asked for a Biolin for my Birthday", which was my Third One!!! I can still see the living room of our house at evening on The Night

of my third birthday & opening the 'Biolin' case with little dotted bumps as on top, seeing green velvet and a violin as my third birthday present w/Poppa standing up then crouching down

beside me to let me hold my new 'Biolin', teaching me to put it safely under my chin and Happy as a lark! I evidently played something holding the bow & my musician parents were then

aware of their little daughter wanting to play the 'biolin' and gave me lessons from that Oct. 1 Birthday until I played well enough to be soloist w/a 'power house' orchestra at USC, in Aram Khachaturian's Violin Concerto for the most important concert of the year & unknowingly, for USC Audience Guest's, *Jascha Heifetz w/great friend/colleague, Gregor Piatigorsky, seated together in prime rows and friends of my parents just behind, who spoke Russian, able to overhear and quite a bit

understand their comments about my playing, later calling my parents to tell them this!!! I would Never have walked on the Bovard Auditorium Stage if knowing God, Jascha Heifetz, was in the audience!! Egads, Folks! One was not crazy! But finally it worked out with Mr. Heifetz accepting me into his first ever Jascha Heifetz Violin Master Class at USC's Institute for Special Studies w/ himself - Heifetz, and my other 6 JH Violin Master Class classmates, *Erick Friedman; Adam Han Gorski; Robert Witte; *Varoujan Kodjian; Carol Sindell & dear, *Claire Hodgkins!! We were all seven subsequently filmed in what Mr. Heifetz, termed, 'our normal classes' in 7 separate individual

Films playing Heifetz assigned violin repertoire. Mine was JH assigned Khachaturian Violin Concerto 1st movement only & due to each of our films being just 30 minutes. It was delightful

by then and we had all become a happy albeit dysfunctional Violinist's Family w/Mr. Heifetz as 'Dad'!!!!!!!

A Word: 'In Memoriam' ~ Of my fellow Jascha Heifetz Violin Master Class classmate's with an *prior their names, and on this June 28th, 2022 Day, with heartfelt memories of all our Special Times & closeness with Mr. Heifetz, whom we all so mourned deeply upon his passing, December 10, 1987, & All of whom, Eminent Pupil's, now R I P with the GOAT Violinist-Mentor, Jascha Heifetz, in God's Heavenly House . . .

I have truly enjoyed reading all of the Replies of each person here and identified some from the UK, by their mention of the RFH and LAM, etc.!!! Bravo to Every Violinist & Violist here to keep with the instrument you Love and truly enjoy playing for without all of you on here those of us in the profession of Pro concert soloist playing would have no appreciative audiences without which, Great Classical Music would rapidly become forever extinct ... Thank You's to All here and to fine Editor,

Laurie Niles, for such an inspired Question on Violinist.com!

With Greetings from America preceding our July Fourth to come Weekend, I remain

... Yours musically ...

~ Elisabeth Matesky ~

Ref: https://www.facebook.com/elisabeth.anne.775?fref=nf

Fwd ~ dg

June 29, 2022 at 12:49 AM · I was 7 years old when my family moved from Texas to Colorado for my father's university teaching position. I did not want to go! But I was promised violin lessons when I got to our new locale, and that was enough to change my opinion of the move. (I guess there were no violin teachers in Texas.) I met the teacher that would guide me from age 7 through high school, and, in many ways, the person who would change my life. I would have studied with her in college, but she was actually the violist on the faculty, and so I was forced to officially move to a violin teacher at that point. (And, yet again, it turned out well.) So I will say that it was "parental encouragement" that set me on this path. P.S. I was fortunate, back in those days, that the local public school system also had an orchestra. In addition to private lessons, I was able to join an orchestra in the 3rd grade! That doesn't happen quite as much anymore.

June 29, 2022 at 12:12 PM · I was inspired to take up the fiddle by listening to recordings of traditional Irish music, specifically The Chieftains and The Boys of the Lough. Further inspiration came from a painting by the Brothers Hildebrandt titled An Unexpected Party, which was the centerfold of their 1977 Tolkien calendar. The painting shows Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf by the hearth in Bilbo's home and surrounding them was a band of nine dwarves. Among them they played a harp, two flutes, a drum, two whistles, a cello, and two fiddles. The musical camraderie was palpable and I wanted it. The fiddle seemed the most adaptable of those instruments, so that is what I chose for myself. A great decision!

June 29, 2022 at 03:36 PM · It started with the principal’s voice over the loudspeaker. Without any advance notice, students in the three fourth grade classrooms at our elementary school were told to line up for an assembly in the gymnasium. We were not told what it was about.

We filed in to find the lacquered wood floor taken over with rows of folding chairs. We settled in, and a very tall, seemingly agitated, bald man took the stage. He surveyed the room, opened his mouth to speak, then paused. He walked offstage and reappeared, holding a violin and bow.

“I am here today because we need your help. The world needs more violin players!” He propped the violin under his chin and drew out a dramatic melody.

“The world is so desperate for violin players that they are making violins small enough so that even toddlers can play. Look!” He brings out a half size violin. “My three year old daughter plays this! When I got home yesterday she was waiting at the door. ‘Daddy! Where’s my violin?!’” (He mimicked his child’s voice.)

“And that’s not all. Even babies are learning to play the violin!” He pulled a tiny violin out of his pocket. “Yes, this actually works!”

Enlistment slip in hand, I rushed home and tried to convince my parents that the violin world desperately needed me. They seemed unsure. My father used to moonlight as a steel guitar player and had different ideas about the desperation of the world for musicians. They also weren’t rich. “We’ll see,” they said. My excitement turned to disappointment.

Not many days later, my mother asked me to retrieve a sweater she left in their bedroom. On the bed was my first violin, a rental. I was so happy and grateful. I eagerly agreed to the terms my parents laid out in the discussion that followed: I was to practice at least half hour each day and stick with it through high school. It was not to be like those other activities, where I joined only to drop out—Bluebirds, for example. (Why did they always have to bring up Bluebirds?)

I stuck with it through high school; indeed, it sustained me through high school, but I put it aside as the combination of thin apartment walls and the demands of adulthood made practicing both intimidating and exhausting. I have taken it up again as I near retirement. The gift my parents gave me more than fifty years ago is a source of happiness and enrichment for which I am even more grateful now, understanding more fully their care, wisdom, and sacrifice in allowing me to pursue it.

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