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Quitting music is the easiest thing… I do it all the time.

By Billy | July 24, 2012

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’m quitting forever.
Today I watched a rather informative YouTube video about vibrato on the violin. And after crying for a while, I decided to quit playing the viola. I’m just certain my body is incapable of making it sound beautiful. No, I’ve never had a formal lesson. Yes, I’ve only been playing on and off for four years. Four years, though. I know stringed instruments require a long time to sound nice, but I am ridiculously bad and tired of being frustrated with it.
OK, so if you know me at all, you know I’m just writing all this stuff and I don’t mean it and I’ll probably still keep playing and I’ll probably talk myself out of being so negative in a few minutes.

A while back, I wrote about how it takes 10 years to become excellent at something. I wrote about how I have no idea what I want to be excellent at, but at the time I did mention that I want to be excellent at an instrument someday. A few months after I wrote that post, I was inspired to get better at the viola. I practiced violin (yes, I’m talking about two different instruments because I only had violins in Austria) almost every day, for a rather long time, and really enjoyed it. It was on New Years day (Sylvester in Austria) that I decided to take lessons, and really put myself into learning my viola. I never took lessons, which I suppose will probably be one of my things I promise myself I’ll do before I can officially quit, but I did pick the viola up nearly every day the first month I was back. Now I try to pick it up several times a week.

Reasons why I am quitting:
1. It always feels like I’m making an investment when I play. I never can just sit down and play and enjoy myself. Rather, I always have to start playing when I’m in really high spirits, and then I need to do something afterwards which builds me back up. The only reason I play is because I will be glad I did so in the future.
2. My body is physically incapable of moving the way that’s necessary for vibrato. Have you ever listened to a violin without vibrato? It’s ugly and boring and always sounds flat. Yuck. My wrist doesn’t bend in the right direction and my neck is too long to allow me to hold the instrument right, so I can’t relax and release my grip, plus my back and neck hurt after playing.
3. The viola was a bad choice anyway. Who plays the viola? Apparently nobody. It’s impossible to find my place in a jam session, since I can’t just do what the violins are doing. Appalachian music has no place for violas whatsoever. My little fingers don’t reach the C string well enough, either, which doesn’t help the vibrato problem.

I hate writing stuff out because it all becomes so clearly illogical. I can’t even finish this post with any congruency. I just want to list the things that debunk the arguments posed above, then look up where I can get a couple lessons for cheap nearby, then do something to build myself back up so I can get practicing again on Thursday or something.

1. Sometimes I really enjoy playing the viola. Often it is discouraging and I do put it down because I’m fed up with how inexperienced I am, but I look forward to playing every day because it’s something I enjoy doing. The investment is just a bonus.
2. My body, in all likelihood, is capable of performing vibrato. It’s more likely that my technique is unrefined and my muscles and synapses haven’t been properly trained to do it. Quitting before someone even attempts to train me is hardly starting at all.
3. This viola is awesome. None of those stupid squaky violins (kidding) can hit that low C like I can. Besides, if I ever wanted, I could make it into a chin cello and play the cello part, which can be hauntingly beautiful. The viola is supportive and different, which fits me nicely.

Bah. Why can’t I throw a pity party for more than 10 minutes, just once?

Chin Cello action.

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