The violin’s unique musical qualities has also made appearances in modern music as the high-pitched rich tones just can’t be achieved by any other instrument. Just take Gogol Bordello as an example.
This week Bring The Music asks Sophie Hudson why she plays the violin?
Why the violin?
Having played for almost five years Sophie has gone through many of the rollercoaster of emotions a musician experiences with their instrument: love, hate and just about everything in-between.
She said: “When I play the violin it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something.
“When I play a piece perfect I feel overwhelmed and happy but when a piece goes wrong I get quite frustrated.
“It’s one of those instruments that are really expressive. Playing a smooth piece feels nice and flowing compared to a stompy piece where you can really get some aggression out.”
Five years ago and sitting in primary school wondering what instrument to play, Sophie chose the violin, but it wasn’t exactly instant love.
“I really only chose the violin because other people were playing it at school”, said Sophie.
“I had initially been interested in the clarinet but after hearing people playing it badly at a concert I was put off.
“I kind of grew to love the violin rather than instantly liking it.
“And when I listen to big violin stars such as Vanessa-Mae, I admire how skilled and talented she is and how one day I’d like to be as good as her.”
On exams and nearly quitting
Having recently taken her grade 4 exam, the worry of passing is still fresh in her head.
She said: “I would love a distinction grade this time as I have never achieved that. It slightly annoys me because I’m always so close to achieving it.”
Sophie was two marks off in grade one and only three marks off at her second grading. But as the saying goes, 4th times a charm. However, when grade three approached early last year the dreaded feeling of wanting to quit plagued her mind.
“When I took the grade three exam I didn’t really practise because I started to lose interest in the violin”, said Sophie.
“All in all I wanted to quit. I just about passed that exam but I was disappointed not to have done better. I guess I can’t blame anyone but myself because I know I didn’t put the work in.”
After the scare of losing touch with the violin, Sophie kick started herself to continue and has rekindled the passion with the instrument she momentarily detested.
She said: “Since the new year I’ve been putting a lot more effort in and I’ve started to enjoy it more.
“I’ve been more motivated to play and getting a new violin has really made me want to continue and improve my playing.”
On being in an orchestra
The classical concert is very much like any gig of your favourite band. The nerves, the expectation and above all worrying whether the crowd will appreciate your music.
Sophie said: “It’s really exciting to play in front of so many people.
As I have said in previous posts, there is nothing better than playing with a group of people who share the same musical interests as you. This is exactly the same in an orchestra and has many things in common with even the most extreme underground Metal band.
Sophie said: “My favourite bit about playing in an orchestra are the concerts.
“The excitement of learning new pieces to play to an audience is very fulfilling. Playing with such a creative group of people helps me to learn new things that I wouldn’t necessarily learn in a lesson.”
“And when the whole orchestra is playing the music sounds really powerful and moving.”
Having already dealt with the stress of an exam, Sophie took part in a truly wonderful concert on the same day. This featured some of the great modern classics, such as The Beatles‘ Hey Jude and the party favourite The YMCA. Along with classical favourites such as The Danube.
Here is an excerpt of Sophie playing The Danube with the Poynton Music Academy:
Having played around 15 concerts with the Poynton Music Academy Sophie is now a veteran of playing to an audience. However, she still recalls the first time and the nerves that brought.
“I remember walking out in front of a crowd for the first time and felt really scared.
“I’d never done anything like that before, but once we’d finished, it was one of the best feelings ever!”
Violin in the future
A tough question to ask any musician is what their favourite piece to play is. I know I would find the question hard as well, but it’s always fun to see a musician second guess themselves.
“Well I guess my favourite piece would be “La Cumparsita” because its upbeat and smooth”, said Sophie.
“It’s a piece that goes with the tango and is really catchy and just a generally good tune.”
Here is Sophie playing her favourite piece:
One of the beauties of being a musician is creating your own music. Playing music is fun but building your own compositions from scratch is a trick every musician should try.
Sophie said: “I’m not writing my own stuff at the moment because I don’t think I’m ready.
“I’m guessing it’s harder than you think, what with balancing the tune and rhythm and sequence of notes.
“But I think as I progress further I’d like to at least give it a try, it sounds like a fun concept to play with.”
And that’s why Sophie plays the violin.