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Why violin (or cello or whatever instrument)?


HoosierGirl
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What inspired you to take up your instrument?

It's a little embarrassing, but I started studying cello because of the sitcom Wings . (Remember that one? Crystal Bernard played a wanna-be cellist who worked at an airport cafe.) When the show first aired I was a piano/violin lesson dropout who was toying with the idea of starting up lessons again. The more I watched the show, the more I thought "cello -- what a great sound." So eventually I called around and lined up my first lesson. This was in '92 or '93.

What's your story?

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I have a tendency to rebel against anything my mother tries to teach me. About a quarter of a century ago during my piano lesson with her, I pointed to her father's violin case and said "What's that?"

"It's a violin.... would you like to learn to play it?"

"Would you be teaching me?"

"No"

"OK"

... and so it began.

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I decided that I must be in the school band when they came around recruiting in 5th grade. My dad was an E6 in the Coast Guard at that time with 3 kids (I'm the oldest) and no savings.

My grandfather had bought a violin in Germany during WWII and was willing to loan it to me to learn how to play. It was my only option if I wanted to be in band.

Now, 23 years later and after becoming proficient on bassoon and xylophone, I am back to my violin. I'm glad that my grandfather loved and trusted me enough with what is now a wonderful family heirloom to loan it to me. I wish he was still here to hear me actually play it with some small degree of expertise. It would have made him very happy.

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Interesting question! As a kid I originally wanted to play saxophone but the public school strings program in my town started a year earlier than the band program, in 4th grade, and I was talked into trying violin out for a year with the promise that I could switch to band later if I still wanted to. Nearly 40 later I'm still playing the violin! -Steve

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My older cousins and grandpa played the violin, and whenever we got together they'd all play hymns and Christmas carols together. It really annoyed me to be left out, so when my parents asked me if there was an instrument besides the piano I wanted to play...

For the first while they all seemed so much better than me- everyone would lecture me on technique. Years later, I'm the only one who still plays... they all quit around grade 5 and I'm a performance major! How did that happen?

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Growing up I always loved music. When I was in 3rd Grade my mother put me in Piano lessons. I did that for 2 years until we moved and I never took it up again.

In 5th Grade when band came around I chose the Saxaphone because I loved the Pink Panther music and other pieces like Yakety Sax, although I never learned to play either. I did this for 6 years. At other times I have tried to learn to play guitar but just couldn't get a feel for it. So I gave up music.

Then about 15 years later I started to miss music again and really wanted to play but I didn't know what I wanted to do, I didn't want to go back to what I had done before. So as fate would have it about 2 years ago went to hear an Orchestra with a friend who had an extra ticket. I don't know what piece they were playing but there was a part were the Soloist was playing a particularly emotional passage that ended with a long sustained note very high on the finger board with a strong vibrato that cut through to my very soul. When it ended I realized there were tears running down my face and at that moment I knew what instrument I wanted to play.

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At a garage sale I saw a violin lying on the concrete floor under a chair, the strings all a-jangle. I asked the price, it was 20 dollars. I had never even seen a violin up close, let alone touched one. The only instrument I had ever really played was blues harp, some decades ago, and I had never entertained the notion of taking up the violin. I bought it and took it home. It turns out all it needed was a bridge. My roommate at the time knew a bit about violins; enough to show me how it's tuned in fifths and how to play a scale. I started playing scales, and then whatever simple melodies would pop into my head, bits of pieces I used to sing in choir and such. Then a friend introduced me to Harry Smith's "Anthology of American Folk Music." I became a bit obsessed with what I heard, and started playing along with whichever pieces I could figure out some sort of accompaniment to. That was about five years ago, and I haven't stopped playing.

- Danny

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School music program for me. Every kid had to play an instrument in 6th grade. I picked the violin because Einstein played the violin. Plus everybody else was picking band so to be contrary I picked orchestra.

I've always wondered did Crystal Bernard really play the cello? I remember one episode towards the end of the series where it sure looked like she was plyaing. If not if was a good job of faking.

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I grew up on a large farm and we had people (farm workers mainly) who came over for Sunday lunch. If they brought their instruments and played, my family would serve up lunch. Then, the preacher would pay a visit around 4:00 for a little sermon, since many of the people who came around couldn't get into town for church (45 miles). Those porch jam sessions really made an impression on me. I wanted to be able to wail away like the old timers that I saw. So, an old fiddle wound up in my hands.

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When the teachers were getting kids into band, etc..., I really really wanted to play flute. But my family was very poor and we couldn't afford the band rental, so I didn't get to play anything. Later in life I took piano lessons-but it was hard getting two hands to play. I really struggled with two clefs. Then one summer my husband (who owns moving company) was contracted to move pianos for the summer chamber series we have here. As a perk he got free tickets to all the concerts. We went to one and they played Vivaldi's Summer. I was amazed at the soloist-how fast his fingers moved, how beautiful it sounded, the way he moved. A bit after that I decided that after all these aborted attempts at music (band, piano) I would take up the violin. I got a shiny new red violin on a rent to own program from a local music store. My first sheet music purchase was the complete Four Seasons. At the time I could only play one or two notes. There were no teachers with space, so I worked through a beginner's book on my own until, finally, one of the teachers had a cancelation. That was 10 years ago, and I don't regret it for one second...and the most thrilling thing for me was when I could finally play Vivaldi's Summer!

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I saw and heard a violinist girl playing with a guitarist in the subway. Nothing overly complex (I'm sure Pachelbel's cannon was in what I heard). It was always around the same time, 9AM on Fridays, during the summer of 1999. Somehow the tone got to me, probably helped by the nice acoustics in that particular musician spot.

Then I played with the idea of starting myself for a couple of months while listening to as much repertoire as I could lay my hands on. I remember distinctively telling myself that: "I have no idea if my mind will ever go fast enough to play this piece" - I was listening to the Bach double concerto.

Well, I have "played" through the first movement for several months since that time. Of course it's not perfect, but my initial goals were not AS steep as I thought. Now I don't think in terms of pieces (because I tend to never reach the level of perfection I want - in all honesty I slaughter many pieces still), but in the general quality of playing in bow changes, tone production changes, the locking (or lack of) of muscles, etc. It's much harder to assess your progression in terms of these but oh! so much useful and accurate.

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In fourth grade, the school's strings teacher came around to our classroom and demonstrated the violin, viola, and cello and encouraged us to sign up to play. Well, I remember thinking that the violin just sounded too high and squeaky for me (actually it still hurts my head sometimes if I listen to violins playing by themselves on the E string for very long) and the cello seemed a bit too big, but the viola was just right. My dad, who has always listened to a lot of classical music, tried to convince me to play violin instead, since they get more melodies and such, but I guess I was a stubborn little girl and insisted on viola. Obviously I've always had very good taste, even in fourth grade!

My sister started playing violin mostly out of jealously of the attention I was getting, I think. And my teacher sort of encouraged her in that direction.

My brother was only 3 when he came with my mom to a lesson, and heard somebody playing cello through a doorway. He was entranced, and asked my mom what that sound was. He then begged to play cello for two years until my mom figured he was old enough to start at 5 years. He had such a cute little 1/8th size cello!

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When I was in 8th grade there were no cellists in the high school orchestra I woud be going to. The school board offered free cello and bass lessons to encourage us kids. I asked my dad, he asked "how much will it cost", and when I said it was free he said "sure". I told them I wanted to play the bass (looking cool like a jazz man). They said "well you know that the bass is a girl's instrument? Tight skirts make it impossible to hold a cello correctly, so they need to have a stand-up instrument". I fell for it. And here I am

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She has recorded a couple of albums as a singer and has written some songs. So she's musical even if she wasn't really playing.

Anybody remember Bess Armstrong playing viola in a show called "On Our Own"? That was for real.

I was another aspiring saxophonist when I was old enough to join the elementary school band. My mom said, "How about violin instead?" and I said "OK" but I don't even really know why, except I liked the idea of being different. (My mom just wanted to do anything to avoid having me in marching band!)

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I started playing violin young, around age 4. It just amazed me in some way i guess but i was too little to remember why...

I added cello a few months ago because they r beautiful and also my great grandfather played it... so i wanted to bring back cello into the family. I have only played for a few months but i think im gonna stick with cello(and violin!) considering I've come pretty far in both. (I'm going to play unaccompanied Bach Cello Suite 1 for solo and ensemble and Humoresque for violin, its eassyyyy, teacher's suggestion:)

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I've loved the sound of a good cello for quite a while. A bit ago, I started getting that nagging idea that I wanted to do something new. And why not something musical? My previous attempt was at clarinet, but that was during a time when I just wasn't dedicated enough, so I let it go after a slow year-and-a-half (though I still do love that instrument, as well).

It finally dawned on me that I should learn cello. So, that's what I'm doing. At least now I have more dedication than before, which is only made stronger the more I learn and hear. Especially with reading some of the things here, and with watching some other musicians play. They make it look so easy

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