3 Violin lessons that have taught me important life lessons

I've been playing the violin for ten years. A decade. Wow, that's a long time! Over those tens years, I've probably had millions of violin lessons. 

I've grown so much these past ten years. In my first violin recital, I didn't even play the violin, I just did this thing with the bow while reciting "Up like a rocket, down like the rain. Back and forth like a choo-choo train. Around my face like a great big sun. Stop in  the middle, curved pinky and bent thumb!" Now, my programme is the 3rd movement of Bruch's Violin Concerto in G Minor, Bach's Preludio in E Major, and Bartok's Rumanian Dances (the three B's)

I'm not telling you this all just to brag, I'm just letting you know: I've had many, many violin lessons. But I haven't just learned things that were pertinent to violin, I've learned some very important life lessons. And I would like to share those with you today

1: Don't be so afraid of making mistakes
 that you forget to have fun

This has been the one that has most impacted me, both in violin and in life. I guess I should give you some backstory. 

Last year, I played the Second Violin solo in the Bach Double Concerto for orchestra. I played it in our school concerts, our spring concert, and then with 2 local high schools. I was absolutely terrified every single time I played it. Now, I am more of a solo player than an orchestra player, and I've been to several competitions. But for some reason,n I dreaded playing in front of my orchestra mates. I couldn't explain why. 

Well, one high school nearby was performing Vivaldi's Gloria for their choral spring concert, and the high school where we had Youth Symphony rehearsal's was asked to send players to the other school. They also wanted to perform the Bach Double (they had somehow heard that the Youth Symphony played it that spring) and so I was asked to play with them. 

I was still terrified every time I played it (this was the first high school I played it with, I later performed it at the high school where Youth Symphony was based), and at the rehearsal before the performance, the director (who was the choral director and not our usual Youth Symphony director) stopped everything during the Bach Double, and looked straight at me. Then he said, "You're so afraid of making mistakes that you're forgetting to play music, to have fun. Stop being scared and do what you love!"

Wow, I really took that to heart. After the performance the next day, my dad (who also plays the violin and had listened to all my performances so far) told me that that was the best he had ever heard me play this.

Ever since then, I've been working on not being so afraid of messing up that I forget to have a good time. Because that's what you want in music, to have fun.

In life, I often find myself being held back by the thought "I'm going to fall on my face and everyone is going to laugh at me". I don't go all out, or don't put in as much passion, or don't enjoy myself as much because I am scared of failing. I'm scared of making a fool of myself. Of falling on my face.

But that's when I remember that piece of advice. Then I throw myself wholeheartedly into whatever I'm doing. Because there's a chance that because I'm not forgetting to have fun, and going full-out, that whatever I'm doing will be better.

2: Don't let desperation keep you down

Now, this next one will be a little difficult for me to write, because I've never really opened up about this except to maybe my mom.

I have a really bad habit of repressing any negative emotions I have. I just keep them under the surface and never really think or talk about them. Normally, I don't have any repercussions from this actions, and they never bother me. But when I get really stressed out, my emotions become extremely volatile and unpredictable. This is because I've been repressing certain emotions and they escape when I'm stressed out.

Last October, I had a really bad case of what I've just described. I had a very big violin competition coming up, and was practicing a lot for it. But the week before, I was taking the ACT for the first time, and right after I took the test, I had to run across the community college campus and play two of my pieces at an event.

I was a complete mess. My pieces weren't coming out right. I was worried about the ACT. I honestly just wanted to throw my violin across the room and never play again. I considered seriously quitting violin.

Now, I've considered that many times, but they were usually in fits of anger, never really serious. This was the first time that I stopped and thought hard about what else I liked.

But yeah, I was a complete mess. I remember almost bursting into tears while at ballet for messing up a simple combination. That's when I knew that I really had to stop and take a breath.

I will tell you, I cried a lot during the week leading up to the ACT. I really thought that I would quit violin. I just couldn't see how I was going to survive this weekend and then the competition.

I struggle a lot with self-confidence. Especially when it comes to my playing. A lot of people tell me that I'm talented, but I never really believe them. My parents always try and encourage me, but I never really seem to believe them.

So everything looked really bleak until the night before the ACT. I don't know what changed that night, but as I was practicing with my dad, I realized how much I loved playing. I knew that I could never really quit, and decided that if I was doing this, then I was going to do it with everything I had. After the performance, someone came up to me and told me that I had made her cry. (I'll attach the two videos from the event at the end of this post, please excuse my playing. I can never hear myself play without criticizing myself so it sounds really awful to me xD)

Life lesson? You might feel down sometimes. You might want to stop. But don't. Push on, the moment of desperation will pass and everything will start looking up, but only if you don't allow yourself to quit.

Think about it. All those moments of thinking that I wanted to quit violin made me realize that yes, I wanted to do something with music but I don't want to commit JUST to it. I started looking around and discovered music therapy, which is what I want to go into eventually.

But please, please, please, don't allow yourself to quit. If you quit when your emotions are all over the place, then you will be deciding with your emotions, and not with your heart. If the storm of emotions blows over, and you see that you still want to stop, and if it's the best for you, then quit. But don't quit when you're upset.

3: Don't let your mistakes stand in
 the way of future glories

Sort of continuing the story from the last one. So I survived the ACT and event, but I still had the big competition coming up. I was still stressed out, but I wasn't the emotional mess that I was before.

My practicing went fairly well the week leading up, I was really proud of the end of my concerto. My dad liked it. My teacher liked it. It was pretty good.

I was playing the Accolay concerto, and the end was a bunch of double stops that got progressively faster until you ended with the chords. I mastered it pretty well.

So we go to the competition. I play my Bach very well. My showpiece is tons of fun. And then we get to the concerto. I start playing, and all the spots I normally had memory slips are spot on. We start nearing the ending and I start getting excited. We go through the sixteenth note section and start climbing higher and higher and higher. We hit the top note, and barge into the double stops. I'm at about the second line when I just forget. I can't remember the next double stop.

I start over, but I get to that section again and can't remember.

So I start over. The same thing happens.

Then again.

And one last time. Finally, I remember, and we finish. The judge thanks me, and I leave. No tears. When I leave the room and start talking to my dad (who is always SUPER supportive in these competitions) I start crying.

I take a lot of pride in my performances. I've never had a noticeable memory slip since I was like 7 and even then I wasn't super fazed.

I was so upset. I was shaking. I was crying. But then I stopped myself and was determined not to think about it. At least I didn't cry in front of the judge.

When we get the comment sheets, the judge didn't say anything about the memory slip. He noticed it but didn't write anything about it. The judge comes over to talk to us, and he still doesn't say anything about the memory slip. He praises my technique. Tells me to play with more musicality. But nothing about the memory.

That boosted my confidence a little, but I was still nervous. The next day I had a gold medal recital for another competition and then a concerto competition.

When it came time for me to play my concerto at the concerto competition, I decided to use the first piece of advice I gave you. I wasn't going to be so afraid of making a mistake that I forgot to have fun. I did mess up, but it was a little fingering issue that I soon resolved.

Afterward, a few people came up to me and praised me. Which, again, made me feel a lot better.

Whenever you mess up in life, don't let that drag you down. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, learn from your mistake, and try again. Don't let a mistake stop you, for you are stronger, and better, and greater than a mistake.

I really hope that this helped you, it was a little difficult for me to write this. What are some experiences you've had that have helped you in life? Have you ever been so afraid of messing up that you didn't allow yourself to enjoy life? Have you ever let desperation drag you down? Did you let your mistakes stop you from future victories? Here's the link to the performance I was telling you about 


  1. Wow. I really needed this. I’m similar to you in that in stressful situations all my emotions come out and . . . yeah. It’s not pretty. But those three life lessons are what I really needed today. Thank you. Amazing post!

    1. I'm so glad that I was able to help, Nicole! Thank you for reading and commenting!

  2. This post is so encouraging, great job!

  3. Wow what an amazing, inspiring, and well written post. Thank you so much Ceci! I've definitely been there. But through these experiences one can learn so much!! So thank you for sharing! <3

    1. It's true, through hard experiences you can often gain great wisdom! Thank you Kiki!! <333333

  4. I have never played the violin, but some time a go I really wanted to learn it. Unfortunately, my dream didn't come true. Anyways, I really appreciate people who play the violin - it's such a wonderful instrument! <3
    Amazing post, Ceci!! I enjoyed reading it :)

    1. I'm sorry that you were never able to learn the violin! It is a wonderful instrument! Thank you, Ann!!

  5. WHAT THE HECK?! Where did you take violin because I swear my sister had to do the exact same thing for her first recital!

    But seriously, as a violinist myself, I loved reading this! Such great lessons that everyone can benefit from!

    1. Really? At that time, I was taking lessons at the University of Delaware. Maybe it is a Suzuki method thing, because that's what they were teaching.

      I didn't know that you played violin! I'm glad to have found out. I'm also glad that you agree with this!

  6. This is such a beautiful post! Thank you for being brave and sharing. <3 I can't wait to hear your violin playing some day! (You also made an old character of mine who plays violin come back to life to bother me, ahaha. xD)

    1. Thank you, Melissa <33. Haha, how those characters haunt us xDD And I hope I can play for you one day!


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