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Becoming a Violinist: Multi-specialist pt 3.

Hi all, it's Fabian from the think-research team. I got inspired to write this blog after reading Amanda's the other week. It reminded me that I had a lot of ongoing passion projects.

As a guy, guitars were one of those popular instruments where you're not seen as special for playing. By the age of 15, I was never exceptional at it, but good enough for campfires and family events. Comparatively, my friends were already masters of guitar solos, trying to become the next Slash. As I mentioned in this blog, I get pretty excited with new things Master of None: Finding Value in Being a Multi-specialist ( I jump into new things but often do not stay long enough. So before I even mastered the guitar, I was already obsessed with other instruments. Piano was next on my list. I learned how to play one song and one song only, and move on.

Up next, the violin. This beauty of an instrument got me obsessed. Despite the versatility of this instrument across genres, it manages to sound classy. Fast forward to college, I tuned in to a lot of classical music, but mostly piano pieces. I was a sucker for French Impressionists such as Debussy and Satie, but I was not listening to a lot of classical violins. Jazz would be the genre closest to my heart. And so one day, I found the best of both worlds.

I fell in love with this video in my final year of college when I was living in Italy. I had been to Florence at that time, but I did not get a chance to see these musicians. Hearing an all-time jazz classic "Autumn Leaves" (originated from the French "Les Feuilles Mortes" by Yves Montand) played in the Violin. I have never been so attracted to an instrument. Supplemented by the deep rich sound of the acoustic bass and the sharp Gypsy-jazz (my current favorite jazz subgenre) strums of the guitar. I was playing this video in the background repeatedly.

Fast forward to a few months ago, I discovered that Maya, a fellow giftmaker in Bali, plays the violin. Her violin was left untouched as there were no orchestra during the pandemic. It only took me one video to get triggered:

The saying is really true. Seeing is believing. An adult beginner who was able to play well within two years. I thought "that's it" "this is the time". The competitive spirit I had within me thought "challenge accepted". As a child, I always thought that there's nothing I can't do. And so I started a new passion project, keeping the same mentality I had when I was younger.

Suzuki Violin Method - Vol 01 (1)
Download PDF • 5.50MB

So I picked up the bow, had Maya tune the violin every now and then, teach me how to read sheet music and I started playing "twinkle, twinkle, little star" without any drills or technique warm-ups of any sort. Let's just say, dogs within the vicinity of my room weren't too thrilled about my at-home recitals. But, I was never discouraged from having a terrible start. I just wanted to play songs immediately, which I think is mostly a good thing.

The good thing is, I am continuously motivated. I took every lunch break from work to play the violin. I became so addicted to learning songs. Once you get the hang of one, you move on to the next slightly more difficult one. It's like that satisfaction when you solve a math problem or get the right dance move.

The challlenging thing is, I have to relearn a bunch of things because I was used to the wrong techniques. Unlearning and relearning is more tedious approach than just learning the foundations in the beginning. But who wants to drill bowing movements with each stroke at the speed of 60bpm without any melody? I would be bored in the first week if I were to only do so. So I thought it was worth it.

Here's a clip of my practice in December and this week. Note that I stopped practicing for more than two months, because I started another passion project - drawing. (I really cannot stick to just one..)

Song of the Wind

The Happy Farmer

Ultimately, I want to start as many passion projects as I can (that I am interested in). Yes I will be a master of none for a while. But by slowly improving many skills at the same time, I aim to be a master of everything by age 40.

So what is my main message here? I find that when you reach adulthood, you assume that things are much harder to learn and that you can only start learning anything at the age of 3. People put high expectations and want to achieve things fast. I find it a pity to hear that passion projects get swept under the rug, just because people are too discouraged to start.

So let me ask in the comment section below, what is one thing you wish you could do but never started because you think it's too late?

Here is a diagram that spits the truth.

I hope whatever your answer in the comment, will actually come to life. For me, once I get my hands on a drum kit, that will be my next project.

See you next week!

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