I started taking violin lessons last week, but only started to learn how to use the bow to play the strings this week. It’s maddeningly difficult, because I have to unlearn years of muscle memory: My teacher keeps telling me to use my wrist, to let the wrist lead the body while using the bow, and not to use my core muscles.
In tennis, the power of your shots comes not from the arms or shoulders even, but from your core. You have to lock your core muscles and then turn your body into the ball — your arms and shoulders will just naturally follow along through the momentum.
In taichi, I remember that I was constantly taught to engage the lower core and thigh muscles. Only then will your centre of gravity be stable, allowing you to perform the taichi strokes naturally.
In aerobics, and almost any form of cardio or resistance exercise, the instructor always reiterates the importance of “engaging your core”. This is to help keep your spine stable, avoiding injury while targeting your abdominal area to engage them during the workout.
So yes, playing the violin is the first physical activity in the history of my life that requires me to not use my core. At all.
There really isn’t any specific, enlightening reason as to why I suddenly wanted to learn a musical instrument at the age of 31. But rather, it’s the accumulation of many small factors that finally pushed me to start:
1) I’ve always liked the violin and its acoustics. In my opinion, it’s a special type of instrument that is able to evoke much stronger emotions than a piano or guitar.
2) I am going to have quite a lot of free time from late-May to early-August. Now is the best time to start learning a new skill.
3) I absolutely love Shinsuke Nakamura’s current WWE theme, which is predominantly led by an amazing violin performance:
4) Lindsey Stirling is awesome. I have to look at the strings with my absolute focus, to ensure that I am playing the correct note. And yet she’s able to dance around and perform pirouettes for the camera while playing the violin:
5) There’s a lot of videogame music recently with very strong, evocative violin performances. Steins; Gate 0, Fire Emblem Fates, and NieR:Automata are some examples. I would like to be able to recreate them on a violin some day.
Let’s see how far this new hobby and skill will take me.