Featured Student Stories

Meet 

Michelle

from 

Olympia, WA

I can pour out my emotions on those strings, and whether it sounds good to anybody else or not doesn't really matter. It matters that it makes me feel better.

What’s your name, where are you from, and when did you start learning violin?

My name is Michelle Murray and I've been playing the violin for two years. I am originally from Detroit, Michigan, but Olympia Washington is my home. 

Why did you choose the violin?

When I was 10 years old, they brought instruments into our school, and it was the first time I only heard the violin and it just resonated in my heart. I took the instrument home to my mom and I was like, I want to play the violin. And then she looked at the cost for it, and she says, No, you're not. And so my love for the violin just never left me. And even though I was forty eight and I have no musical background, I didn't let that stop me and I just picked up the violin and decided to learn how to play it. 

What are some of your biggest challenges on the violin? 

So I have PTSD and there's times when I have difficulty sleeping, when I feel very angry or very sad, and the violin is something I can pick up at three o'clock in the morning, one o'clock in the afternoon, whenever, and it just puts me in this calm, happy place. I'm not your typical “practicer”. I have chronic fatigue, so I only have limited energy. So I have learned a way to maximize the limited time I have with practicing. I make sure I do my 15 minutes a day at an absolute minimum. So even if you don't have that hour to spend practicing, that's OK. You'd be amazed at what you can do in 15 minutes. 

What advice do you have for fellow adult violin students?

I struggle with rhythm. I have no natural sense of rhythm. And you know, it's very hard to OK, that's supposed to be a quarter note. This is the full note half note. It's very frustrating for me, and I still struggle with that. But I just get past that by understanding that that's just part of the process of learning. And as adults, we don't want to mess up, and we’re supposed to just know things, but we don't. Practicing is what gets us to that place. When I'm feeling like, “I just can't do this anymore,” I remind myself that I just got to push through it, and I'll get to the other side. 

Why did you start using Trala?

One of the things that I was having trouble with when I first started taking private lessons was getting that instruction outside of the lesson. And I was looking for some apps that might help me with that, and Trala was listed as one that would do that. And so I checked out the app and I love the string detection because that's something you don't need your teacher there with you, but it gives you a lot of information. 

How have private lessons enhanced your learning experience?

Lessons are an excellent way to build your confidence in learning and to make practice more enjoyable, in my opinion, because you get the feedback from your teacher. And so you know specifically what to work on and you're working with somebody to accomplish those things. And I found that the teachers at Trala are as invested in what I'm working on as I am. The teachers just have that level of enthusiasm and you just know they love teaching. 

Violin is one of the harder instruments to learn. So the fact that you're even doing it, applaud yourself and just keep going and and use the tools that Trala provides because they really do help improve your ability to play, especially if you don't have the benefit of private lessons.  


Michelle Murray is a writer from Washington state, who’s been learning with Trala since 2020.


Learn violin at any age, from anywhere.

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Photography by Orel Chollette