The Violin is one of the most popular instruments in the String family. There are more violinists used in symphony orchestras, chamber orchestras and other ensembles than any other stringed instrument.
Violins are the smallest in the string family and because of this are the instrument most frequently chosen by children than any other stringed instrument.
There are numerous benefits to playing the violin that enhance our well-being that involves more than just learning a new skill.
We become physically stronger, more emotionally connected, more alert mentally, and we increase our friendships through new contacts and groups that share the same passion for the violin.
Let’s look at some of the best reasons that everyone should play the violin
Physical Benefits: muscles, posture, coordination
Musicians are athletes of the small muscles. This means that every time you play the violin, you are actually working out much like someone would at the gym or on a playing field.
All of the muscles in the neck, arms, shoulder back, and even core area are used when playing the violin.
If one’s position is correct while playing and they remained relaxed, over time these muscles will strengthen just as if you were to do sit ups each day for a month.
The upper arm areas especially are worked when playing for long periods of time.
Another direct benefit from correct posture during violin playing is better posture.
Since your core is engaged while playing if you’re standing or sitting correctly, you will definitely see an increase in your overall strength.
Players that sit a lot to play need to be especially careful about consciously involving their core to hold their upper bodies up while playing.
The best way to engage your core while sitting and playing is to plant both feet firmly on the ground and push up a bit while lifting your upper body at the same time.
Then pull your belly in toward the center of your spine, bring your shoulder blades together, and gently raise your violin into playing position.
Be mindful that you don’t start bending over from the center of your back while playing, but bend from the hips, even when you have to turn pages.
Coordination and fine motor skills are improved as well when we play the violin.
Violinists are multi-multi-taskers.
Left hand and right hand activities occur simultaneously, yet are completely different in their function. More than that, we’re also doing different things with each hand while playing.
Our left hands/arms help to hold our instrument, while our left fingers are pressing on the fingerboard to play the notes, as well as vibrato and move quickly from one to another.
Our right hands/arms are move our bow across the strings at different speeds and styles, sometimes playing off the string with fast movements, or playing on the string with slower but heavier strokes.
You will be amazed at how much organized your multi-tasking can become after playing the violin for a little bit.
Mental Benefits: concentration, memory, discipline
Brain power is the “Force” within all violin playing.
All of the multi-tasking mentioned above, is actually done mentally first.
Our bodies do what our brains tell them to do, for the most part.
In order to accomplish learning how to play a note in tune while learning how to hold your violin correctly, takes much focused concentration on 2 different activities at the same time.
Many times, a student will need to break things down so they are only focusing on one thing at a time.
As they succeed with one activity, then another one can be added in, so that they can put more focus on the new activity while still aiming some concentration on the already learned one.
This process teaches violinists how to approach problems by breaking them down into manageable goals, and at the same time increase our ability to focus on more than one thing at a time successfully.
Memory skills improve in violin players without us really even knowing it.
Our brains and even our subconscious minds are learning the notes to a piece while we are physically learning it.
What ends up happening is that one day we can all of a sudden play some of the piece without looking at the music. As our playing improves and we play more and more pieces, we end up memorizing more because our brains are getting accustomed to working that way.
You will even find that you’ll be able to remember other details in life better, such as phone numbers, names of strangers, or certain dates as a result.
Everything about playing the violin takes discipline, and that isn’t just the discipline to practice. It takes mental discipline as well.
If we practice notes, without thinking about what we want to accomplish with those notes either musically or technically, we’re really just wasting time.
Again, our bodies do what our brains tell them to. If our brains aren’t engaged with our physical movements, it will take a lot longer to learn skills and pieces, and the risk of losing interest can set in.
It’s always best to work for smaller amounts of time that are used with both your physical and mental resources, than longer periods of just rote playing and letting your mind wander to other places.
Emotional Benefits: self-confidence, connection, joy
The amount of emotional benefits from playing the violin is probably too large to count.
One of the most visibly emotional benefits that come from playing is the increase in our own self-confidence and respect. Learning the violin is hard work! It takes an incredible amount of endurance and a “keep at it” attitude to learn everything needed to play well at any level.
Days of practicing the same passage over and over can pass by without any notable improvement, until one day, all of a sudden, it works.
That feeling…is indescribable really, and ends with a “Yes I Can” every time, and the more this happens, the “No I can’t’s” are said much less.
Beyond greater self-confidence, violinists experience a deeper emotional connection to themselves and those around them.
Music bypasses our brains for the most part, and affects us directly in our emotional realm. You know the saying: “Music is the language of the heart”. It’s the language of emotions, that’s certainly true.
The musicality of a piece is expressed through dynamics, through the mixing of specific chord structures, and through emphasized tempo changes for specific phrases.
You know when someone says, “That gave me chills”? The ‘chills’ come from the musical expression in a piece, not just the notes alone.
While it’s true that even listening to music increases one’s connection to their own emotional life, playing an instrument like the violin more than doubles the strength of that connection because the player has to be open to that part of him or herself in order to project it into their music.
“Joy comes in the morning”, or in this case, with each note.
Violinists who keep their craft alive, are actively playing with others in a band, a chamber or symphony orchestra or even just a few friends, have a greater sense of joy in their lives, as opposed to those who don’t.
Children have so much fun in lessons and in learning new things. Their laughter is contagious and can quickly spread to their families and the other students in a violin studio.
Social benefits: new friendships, cultural enrichment, & community engagement
There’s no doubt that playing with other violinists and string players enhances one’s social life.
Rehearsals offer not only time to practice, but also time to meet and connect with people outside of our normal circles.
Finding a good and trustworthy teacher who serves as a steady and supportive mentor is one of the greatest experiences that any violinist can have.
A relationship like this goes beyond just learning how to play the violin many times, and plays a vital role that provides a confidant and emotional support system for students.
Cultural awareness and involvement increases through violin playing as people from all over the world play, and one doesn’t necessarily need to know another person’s native language in order to be able to communicate with each other through their music.
Most symphony orchestras have players from all over the world playing in them. Many good violin jobs are found in countries outside of the USA and often, pay better.
Violinists all over the world, offer their playing in different segments of their community, whether it is their local schools, or service club meetings, or playing for funerals or even for the sick and those in hospice.
Incorporating some type of community service with your violin playing will bring an abundance of rewards.
Some violinists have found a lot of satisfaction through playing in their local hospitals for cancer patients, or those on that are passing out of this world.
There’s even a whole field in music dedicated to helping others through music, called Music Therapy.
Other players like to go into some of the local schools that might not have a lot of money for a strings program, and volunteer to play and work with the students.
There are senior centers where many people would love to hear some violin music.
Any avenue that you choose to give through, will increase not only your own happiness, but it will help you to also meet new people, find like-minded servers that might have other skills that you could team up with, and will give you a more positive outlook on your own life.
You might even end up finding another musician that you could play with and get some local gigs in your town.
There’s really not one area of your life that won’t benefit from learning and playing the violin
It doesn’t take hours of practice each day to play successfully. All it takes is some dedication, patience, and willingness to be open to new experiences and people.
Although different from going to the gym a few times each week, it’s much the same in that the more you do it, the more you reap the benefits.