There are pianissimo dynamics and tremolos so light they are barely audible, but there is no such thing as a quiet violinist. It’s taken me many years to understand this simple fact. I was always told to play louder. In orchestra rehearsals and in private lessons, even when playing along to the hymns in church, I was continuously being told that I needed to play out. Playing out, however, seemed impossible. I was shy! I was an introvert. How could I play out if I didn’t know I had the ability to speak up? I’d been considered shy by my peers and teachers for so long, I thought it to be my truth. I felt impaired by my introversion and plagued by the tendency to shy away from giving myself a voice.
“Use your bow and your neighbors!” my instructor would demand. “You paid for the whole bow, now use it.” My collection of these creatively worded encouragements grew and grew. Nothing, however, felt relevant enough to stick. It wasn’t until my private teacher, Roger Frisch, shared with me an observation. “I admire your calm spirit when you walk into the room,” he told me, “but you need to set that aside when you play the violin.” The thought of my quiet personality compromising my expression in music terrified me. And with that, my journey of growth began. Roger did not call me shy. He did not allow my personality to define my ability as a player. Roger showed me in this memorable observation that I am capable of playing out. He continues to teach me with his inspired mentorship that the tendencies of my personality are not linked to my abilities as a musician.
With time and dedication to my instrument, I began to grow as a musician. I let go of the idea that my sound was to be heard and embraced, the idea that to play my violin was an act dedicated to my own self-expression. It was this realization that transformed my sound. It was never about digging in or using the whole bow, though I learned how to do these things; it was about learning to play with intent. I grew as a musician when I learned to project.
My musical growth lead me to find the sound that organically became my own. I have also learned to apply this to my life and how my introversion affects the way I live. I have learned to strike each note with purpose just as I speak only when I see a purpose. And now, because of playing violin, I have reached an understanding that that is okay. With awareness, I learned to embrace my intention as correct even if it is that of an introvert. From this experience I can identify my goals in life: to be quiet but confident and to play expressively with the voice I value within. Growing as a musician is teaching me how to grow outside of music, to gain knowledge and skill sets necessary to develop an original, artistic voice. This is why I love what I do. Its relevance is magical across mediums, and there are no words.