Every once in a while I get lucky enough to meet someone who does what they love for a living. I call these people Super Geeks. They’ve dedicated their lives to doing something they enjoy, and we should all tip ours hats to them.
A while ago, before Neeks and Gerds, I was working on a another hobby-related website. A large part of this website were Q&As with hobbyists. After seeing Lindsey Stirling’s amazing violin/dancing skills on America’s Got Talent, I decided she would be perfect for the website. I contacted her and she, being the kind person that she is, enthusiastically agreed to answer my questions.
Now, with Ms. Stirling’s permission, I am publishing the Q&A here as well. Lindsey Stirling is a musical Super Geek, and she represents us well.
How long have you been playing violin?
I’ve played for 17 years.
What made you choose the violin?
When I was a kid, my family hardly had any money. The only source of music that we had was an ancient record player on which my dad would play his favorite classical records. I can still remember the scratchy sound that would resonate through the hose as my sisters and I danced in our small living room. My parents would also take us to all the free orchetra concerts they could find. So with this musical exposure to the classics, I begged my parents to let me play to violin. It was a huge sacrifice for my parents to finance. My mom could only afford one lesson every other week, so no teacher would accept that. They felt that no child could learn with so little training. One teacher finally took me as a student and the rest is history.
Was it difficult for you to learn to play?
It’s funny; as a child, I had no musical ear. Before I picked up the violin at 6, I would sing all the time. My parents and older sister will attest to the fact that I was as tone deaf and as loud as I could possibly be. My sister would walk around with her hands over her ears. Somehow through my constant singing, and my violin practicing, I developed an ear for intonation and musicality. It took a lot of work, but now playing by ear is one of my best traits as a musician. Funny, our weeknesses really can turn into strengths.
What is the hardest part of playing the violin?
It is difficult to have good intonation and beautiful tone, but the hardest thing is to really bring a piece to life. The dynamics on the violin, especially in the high register, are hard to bring out. Also, the speed of the vabrato and the rise and falls in the phrasing all add to the musicality. Its hard to maintain everything else while focusing on that aspect.
Why might someone choose the violin over other stringed instruments?
The violin is definitely the most versatile of the strings. I love how you can appeal to anyone. I play classical violin, I play with rock bands, I dance and rock with hip hop, and I fiddle. It’s just amazing that you can impress people; you can have them jumping around having fun, or you can make people’s eyes fill with tears. I was a missionary for the Mormon church, and I had many opportunities to share my religious beliefs with people through word, through service, and through music. In NYC there are so many different cultures, and there were many people that I could not verbally communicate with. However, I love how music speaks a language all its own and everyone can feel it. And let’s be honest…it’s the star of the orchestra.
How would you describe your feeling while playing the violin?
There is nothing like the feeling of performing. There is this electric atmosphere that I can just feel from the crowd. It is so much fun to hear them cheer — to see them smile. It is incredebly invigorating when I can tell that they love what I am doing as much as I love doing it.
Do you have a favorite style of music?
My favorite style is hip hop because I have so much fun playing it. I absolutely love to dance and it’s so fun to combine to things that I love to do.
Have you performed in any ensembles?
I was in the school orchestras in jr high and high school, and I was in the regional and all state orchestras in high school. I also participated in community orchestras, the university symphony at BYU, and a Celtic fiddle group. I’ve played with numerous rock bands and solo artists as well. I am currently the fiddle player for the charley jenkins band.
Do you prefer playing solo or in an ensemble?
I actually prefer playing solo or in small ensembles.
How did your experience on America’s Got Talent influence you as a musician?
I’ve always been a very practical person, and I do things the way the book says they should be done. I met so many amazing people on AGT. Some of them had given up everything to chase their dreams. I realized that in order to chase your dreams, you have to take a leap into the dark. Yes, I still have to be practical and smart through the process, but God has given me a gift. He’s given me passion, and if I don’t give a full good effort into trying to be a performer, I will always regret it and I will always wonder. It’s scary to reach for something that you actually really want. If you fall, it hurts all the more, but the people I met at AGT inspired me to not be afraid of falling. We all fall in different ways in life. I took a fall when I was kicked off AGT, but the lesson I learned is that I can get back up and keep climbing.
If you were to write a book about your violin, what would it be entitled?
Thank you very much for your time. Do you have anything to add?
Yeah, I want to represent that young women don’t have to fit into a mold. I work with at-risk teenage girls at a treatment center, and so many of them struggle with trying to be what the world wants them to be. Through my unique style of playing, I want to inspire girls and show that they need to find out who they want to be. They need to love themselves not in spite of their differences, but because of them.
I would like to thank Ms. Stirling for agreeing to do this Q&A, and for letting me publish it here. She is not only very talented, but also very kind. I wish her the best of luck in the future.