Joshua Bell is one of the most celebrated violinists of his era, who went from a ‘musician’s musician’ to a household name when he went incognito as a busker at a Washington, D.C. subway station in 2007 for a Washington Post article by Gene Weingarten, which thoughtfully examined art and context. This experiment, which was videotaped on hidden camera, had only 7 out of 1097 people stop to listen to Bell’s nearly 45 minutes performance. Only one person recognized the American violinist.
The mechanics of playing the violin is cemented by practice and muscle memory; Joshua Bell started violin lessons since age five, after his mother discovered he had stretched rubber bands across the handles of his dresser drawers and plucked out music he had heard his mother play on the piano. At 14 years old, he appeared as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, which was conducted by Riccardo Muti. When he was just 17 years old, he made his Carnegie Hall debut with the St. Louis Symphony. He has since performed with many world famous orchestras and conductors.
As a child, I was fascinated by how sophisticated one looked while playing the violin. And the sound it makes is so alluring and dramatic and powerful, and even comforting. There are many benefits of learning the violin, and these reasons are beyond just gaining the ability to play beautiful music.
- Increased arm strength and flexibility in the upper body due to developing skills and muscle memory
- Increased finger dexterity and coordination: the left hand gains nimbleness, and the right hand learns to control the bow
- Improved posture because of the need to sit up straight to support your back and shoulder.
- Lowered heart rates and blood pressures, both of which are symptoms of stress
- Improved attention span: concentration and focus is important in learning the violin and in reading the score
- Sharpened memory as you memorise songs, and your muscle memory improves
- Better self-discipline: As a musician, you take on the sole task of increasing your knowledge and dedication to learning and caring for your violin. Practice makes perfect
- Music is a good way to express yourself, and that itself is therapeutic
- Boosted academic skills: Results of studies showed an improvement in fundamental reading and comprehension skills
- Self-esteem booster: When you gain the confidence to perform in front of others, this confidence shows in other aspects of your life as well
- Collaboration is important if you are playing the violin in an orchestra, since you need to master your part
- Realistic self-expectation and accomplishments: You learn to surpass your expectations when you set achievable goals, and feel proud for performing well. This standard can be translated to other areas of your life and make you a better person
Why is learning the violin good for children?
You are never too old to learn to play a musical instrument, but starting at a young age has its advantages. Violin lessons, whether in private or in a group setting, has the ability to improve many aspects of your child’s life:
- Even if it is just for pleasure, the sense of freedom and the ability to take off to new places with music keeps most musicians enthusiastic about playing and learning new music
- Attending regular violin lessons and practice time allows children to realise the importance of time management, and they learn to make the best use of their time
- Learning to play an instrument takes dedication and perseverance, so your child will recognise that they need to put in effort if they wish to see results. Children may be frustrated at the initial stage of learning, but as they progress, their sense of achievement and pride will encourage them to strive further
- Playing an instrument exposes children to a wide variety of music. Learning to play songs from different parts of the world also exposes children to different cultures, increasing their awareness of diversity within the world we live in
I hope the story of Joshua Bell has inspired you to start taking violin lessons. The benefits of learning music will outweigh your doubts about beginning violin lessons. So come on down to Bloom School of Music and Arts to start your musical journey! Click here to contact us for a free assessment.
“If I were not a Physicist, I would probably be a Musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music. I get most of my joy in life out of music”
— Albert Einstein