Did you know that only one to three percent of students that play music will go on to play professionally?  Does that mean that the other 97 to 99 percent who have studied violin should be considered a “waste of time?” Absolutely not. I continually remind students and parents that I am not trying to make students professionals, but my intent is to instill the love of music in them. Who knows how many of them will go on to be connoisseurs of classical or other music – supporting music until the day they die.  How many will go on to become better citizens and make significant contributions to society in fields other than in music?  How many will become kinder and more loving people? How many will go on to use their violin playing therapeutically for relaxation or as a hobby?

Famous people that played the violin un-professionally

1. Albert Einstein

2. Thomas Jefferson

3. John Tyler

4. Woodrow Wilson

5. Benjamin Franklin

Who would have guessed that playing music would have helped Albert Einstein to discover the Theory of Relativity? Presidents Thomas Jefferson, John Tyler and Woodrow Wilson all played the violin, as did Benjamin Franklin, who discovered electricity and was one of the founding fathers of the United States. These men may not have achieved these goals without the added confidence, determination, and discipline that comes from learning and playing the violin. Then there are the people who studied the violin who became professionals. One perfect example is Maud Powell who revolutionized the violin when she stepped into the Victor recording studio in 1904, and became the first woman and person to record violin playing. She took recording technology to its highest level by becoming the first solo instrumentalist every recorded. That achievement transpired long before women were even able to vote.

Some people that play music question if all of these amazing people and achievements are actually a result of what I call the “violin effect” or merely coincidence, circumstance, luck or genetics. I have taught violin for over 25 years to more than 1,000 violin students. I can confidently tell you after delving into all of the scientific research, and the wealth of knowledge that I have learned from teaching, that there is definitely, beyond any doubt, a “violin effect”. That “violin effect” is a positive and influential force that is powerful, beneficial and long-lasting. When you delve into the myriad of scientific research on the positive and beneficial effects of playing the violin, you start to discover all of the fruit that has been borne as a direct result of the “violin effect”.  Playing the violin develops a sharper memory, finer eye-hand coordination, stamina, more focused concentration, improved test scores, particularly in language, reading and mathematics. Playing the violin can result in improved ACT and SAT scores, better discipline, increased finger dexterity, improved motor skills, increased arm strength, improved posture, and lower stress levels. Violinists have greater confidence stronger feelings of accomplishment, and more opportunities to collaborate with others, along with a greater sense of community, not to mention the cardiovascular benefits from constant use of the upper torso.

Anyone who doubts that there is a “violin effect” related to playing music should perhaps take a deeper look.

16 replies
  1. Nicolets
    Nicolets says:

    I have no plans to play the violin professionally, but I agree: violin is not a waste of time! It can be a pain, but I certainly appreciate learning the skill of determination and paying attention to detail. And while I am no prodigy, I (and those around me) can still enjoy hearing the pieces that I am able to play. Who says “simple” equals “boring”?! 🙂

    • Thornton Cline
      Thornton Cline says:

      Thank you for your input! I wish I had tracked every one of my over 1,000 violin students. I know I would find that most of them have done some amazing things with their lives. I know that some of my students are successful songwriters, successful business owners, doctors, lawyers, and a few are professional violinists.

  2. cgvm
    cgvm says:

    I am learning to play violin primarily as another outlet to relax while at the same time enjoying the new opportunities to meet other people. The cognitive benefits of playing an instrument extend over our entire life from childhood years to elderly years. I am content in the reality I will always be an amateur musician. I stumbled onto Violin Tutor Pro on Youtube in late 2012 before I had even thought about learning to play the violin.

  3. Thornton Cline
    Thornton Cline says:

    Thank you for following Violin Tutor Pro. I hope you found my article helpful. You are right about it being therapeutic. Violin playing for many of my students and former students is relaxation after a hard day of work. Keep on playing it and you will discover other benefits.
    Stay in touch.

  4. Yinmui
    Yinmui says:

    Don’t you think teaching music should still be considered professional? I do agree only very small percentage end up performing, the rest are probably teaching, I would still consider them professional.

    • Thornton Cline
      Thornton Cline says:

      Absolutely! Teaching music is a noble profession. There is no question music teachers are professionals. Look at all of the professional teaching organizations out there. As an example, I am a member of the Suzuki Association of Americas, and the American String Teachers Association, two worthy organizations. Actually, most music teachers I know perform regularly with their students, perform in weddings, perform in small and/or large ensembles or perform in recitals. I believe that must be an excellent performer to be an excellent teacher.

  5. Dave J
    Dave J says:

    There’s way more to learning an instrument that financial gain. I can’t imagine, at this point, ever playing for money. This was never a goal for me so I’m fine with that. Some things I do get out of it though are appreciation for routine and self discipline. These two things spread in to other areas of my life for the better. Another gain, the social atmosphere when attending class and practices. Networking with like minded individuals has future potentials that go beyond this shared interest.

  6. WonkyViolin
    WonkyViolin says:

    I picked up the violin in my late 30’s, so playing pro is more than likely not in my future 🙂 However, the satisfaction I get when I manage to play a piece I’ve struggled with, or finally ‘get’ a technique…well it is a great feeling. The camaraderie and joy as well as frustration I feel when playing with others in orchestra (amateur) is addicting! Learning the violin certainly has its ups and downs and I don’t consider it ever to be a waste of time. Well, perhaps after a rotten practice lol! I’m so glad I decided to play! I find I listen to music differently than I used to, I hear more nuances and color in the music.

  7. pheonixwhirlwind
    pheonixwhirlwind says:

    I have never known that Einstein, Franklin, and Jefferson had played the violin. Also, I am never going to quit playing the beautiful instrument aka the violin.

  8. Terrowyn98
    Terrowyn98 says:

    I want to major in Music. I love the feeling of satisfaction I get when I play my violin and don’t mess up! lol 🙂 The violin is amazing! music makes me happy!

  9. Anteros
    Anteros says:

    Interesting article. It would be interesting to have a follow up blog that delves deeper into the scientific research in this area. For example, it would be interesting to find out whether or not the conclusions on sharper memory, finer eye-hand coordination, stamina, more focused concentration and improved test scores are correlations or causations.

  10. Richard Kovacik
    Richard Kovacik says:

    Playing for 8 months and, the best new part of my life, it has provided a challenge, (bear with me for stating the obvious) and it is my serenity. Often a second daily practice with a glass of Pino Noir. I will never play professionally, but I will be a lifelong student, now actual playing the instrument of the music I have loved my whole life.

    My appreciation for and knowledge of the arts has grown beyond what I had ever imagined. Out of the blue, in a chat with my doctor I discover he is a violinist who, as he defines, achieved a high degree of mediocrity exceeding his expectations. And today is a board member of the Chgo Symphony Orchestra. So, for me reading the article “famous people who played…) is spot on for me. I am by no means famous but, am thankful for what participating has added to my life.

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