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Investing in Arts Education

Lindsey Stirling: Embracing the Artist Within

lindsey sterling-violin-music-orchestra-instrument
lindsey sterling-violin-music-orchestra-instrument
Lindsey Sterling, Photos by Lindsay Fishman

Through her unique blend of music and dance, Lindsey Stirling engages audiences while remaining true to herself.

Lindsey Stirling vividly recalls her introduction to the violin.

“My earliest memories are my parents taking me and my sisters to outdoor orchestra concerts,” explains the 36- year-old classically trained musician. “I noticed the violinists always got the solos. They always got the fun, fast melodies, so at the age of five, I started begging my parents and saying, ‘I want to play.’ They finally got me lessons, but I remember also really wanting dance lessons too, because I had seen a lot of musicals, like ‘Singing in the Rain.’”

Refusing to settle

Intimidated by other young girls dressed in tutus in dance class, Stirling decided to focus on her music.

“We started with half lessons, because my mom couldn’t afford anything more than that, but she eventually found a way to scrape up enough money to pay for these short violin lessons for 15 minutes a week. I really didn’t start dancing until I was in college. I always loved dance, but I never tried it, and I never had a chance to really invest in it. So, I decided I would teach myself.”

Passion reignited

By the time she started college, Stirling was burned out on the violin, and no longer enjoyed playing her beloved instrument. 

“I decided to study to be a therapist instead, but I knew I didn’t want to give up the violin either. So, I went on a search to make it fun again. For the first time ever, I started to not play the classical music I was supposed to play. Instead, I started to play the pop/alternative music that I actually liked, and I started to write music playing with all sorts of different styles. That’s how I found the fusion style that I now have. I started to combine dancing with it because the music felt like it required movement. I couldn’t imagine performing it while standing still, so I taught myself how to dance and play at the same time. I almost gave up the violin, but then came back to it with my passion completely reinvigorated.” 

Merging interests

“I love playing the violin, video editing, costume designing, sewing, dancing, and performing in engaging ways,” Stirling explains. “Who would’ve ever thought these things could have worked so well together? Thankfully they did, and now this is my day job and my night job.

“When I get burned out on writing, I start working on tour costumes. When I get burned out on that, I start practicing my dancing and violin. I have all these different skill sets that I can rotate between and they all kind of fuel the next.” 

Moving beyond “America’s Got Talent

A hit with countless fans on YouTube, Stirling admits her first performance in the national spotlight wasn’t her finest hour.

“Maybe I wasn’t quite ready to be in front of an audience that big yet, because I had just started this whole dancing and violin thing. It taught me the importance of not judging your entire life and your entire work based on what one person thinks. I replayed that America’s Got Talent moment in my head, and I thought ‘if I can get up off that bathroom floor from crying after the show, then I can totally do it again.’”

Lindsey Stirling’s advice to others

Stirling, who’s preparing to release her second Christmas album and begin a holiday tour, encourages aspiring artists not to abandon their dreams.

“There are a lot of opinions and voices out there. Especially with social media, there’s no shortage of people sharing with you what they think about you. I think it’s so important to constantly remind yourself that the most important voice to listen to is your own.”

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