A small update

The author stands on a rock with her arms in the air. The ocean is in the background.
The author stands on a rock with her arms in the air. The ocean is in the background.
Photo of the author.

Hello everyone!

It’s me, Viola Altiste, and I’m now using the name Viola Geena! I will leave this pinned for at least a few weeks to make sure all my regular readers have a chance to get caught up. If this is the first time you’ve read something from me, consider this an updated “About Me” story.

If you don’t feel like wading through my rambling, all you need to know is that I’ve changed my name on Medium. I’m still me and still going to write the same type of content.

Viola who?

When I first started on Medium, I thought writing under…


My career and lifestyle differ from many, but that’s the beauty of it.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Classical music? Isn’t that for older people?

For those who don’t know me, I am a viola player in a Canadian symphony orchestra. I primarily write about my career and journey as a classical musician, mostly shedding light on how Covid lockdowns have severely impacted my industry.

I would consider my field of work to be somewhat niche; classical music is not exactly something that most people would associate with young people. When you imagine a symphony orchestra, you likely assume that most patrons are at least 60 years old. …


Would this be a step toward making the arts more accessible or a step backwards by compromising excellence?

A man sitting at a table in an auditorium. He has a stack of papers on the table. Presumably he’s a judge for an audition.
A man sitting at a table in an auditorium. He has a stack of papers on the table. Presumably he’s a judge for an audition.
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Musicians have accepted auditions as a standard process to get into schools, training programs, and, ultimately, employment.

Aspiring teenaged musicians spend their last few years of high school preparing for their university entrance auditions. Most of them have already spent most of their childhood taking private music lessons in their given instrument, so these auditions aren’t a big deal for most.

However, not everyone has the privilege of taking private music lessons. While many school and community programs are designed to make music accessible, these programs are often ensemble-based and do not offer regular private lessons.

Generally speaking, students who only ever played in their high school wind ensemble without taking private lessons will not be able…


Why are we still in this situation?

Photo by Wan San Yip on Unsplash

In June 2020, I had gotten to the point where I was legitimately concerned that my career as a musician was effectively over before it truly began. While outdoor patios and hair salons reopened, there was no indication of when live performing arts shows would resume.

I attended a parade of incessant Zoom meetings throughout that summer to brainstorm options of what our orchestra could do in light of varying levels of Covid restrictions. However, it was so overwhelming to consider every aspect.

Would we find a venue where we could maintain physical distancing? What would we do about musicians…


It went differently than I imagined!

Screenshot of a Zoom call. The author is teaching a young violin student who’s face as been blurred for privacy/safety.
Screenshot of a Zoom call. The author is teaching a young violin student who’s face as been blurred for privacy/safety.
Screenshot of the author's Zoom lesson.

Teaching music lessons online is certainly not an ideal scenario, but necessary to keep everyone safe and prevent the spread of Covid.

Initially, I viewed it as an opportunity to teach more students than I ever could before. It can be difficult for young professionals to develop a teaching studio in my city. The parents here don’t typically put their children in music lessons or see the value in music education. I was no longer confined to the tiny pool of students here; I could teach anyone in the world with online lessons.

However, it didn’t quite go as planned. I advertised on a platform called Superprof. On one of my early Medium articles, Are Online Music Lessons Worth the Hassle?, I…


OPEN LETTERS

You people know it’s just a game, right?

The author’s animal crossing character posing in front of a teddy bear string quartet decoration.
The author’s animal crossing character posing in front of a teddy bear string quartet decoration.
Screenshot of the author’s in-game island.

To whom it may concern,

Every Animal Crossing New Horizons Facebook group claims to be a drama-free zone where people can connect with others who also play Animal Crossing.

While the smaller groups generally achieve this incredible feat, the large groups are intimidating and, frankly, toxic. Did you people really think that you could achieve a drama-free space on Facebook of all platforms?

Animal Crossing gave me much-needed stability in the early months of the pandemic.

When my work as a musician was cancelled indefinitely, I got an island getaway package from Tom Nook. I spent my days catching bugs…


Leave me alone; speak to the manager.

Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

Call me naive, but I thought Medium was the Karen-free zone of the Internet.

I’ve mentioned in several articles how writing and engaging with other writers has improved my mental health immensely. I’ve raved about how I’ve received nothing but love and support from everyone here. I’ve written many things on Medium that I would never share on my personal Facebook or Instagram for fear of judgment from my peers. Overall, I can’t say enough positive things about how Medium has helped me cope in these confusing, socially distant times.

Unfortunately, I had my first Karen experience today. I always knew that putting myself out there on the Internet has risks, even on a…


14? 16? 18? 21? 25? 30? Does it matter?

Photo by saeed karimi on Unsplash

To date or not to date, that is the question.

If you’re *still* single in your late twenties or thirties, people constantly ask why you’re not married or attempting to find a partner. However, if you get married in your early twenties, people accuse you of accelerating your life before you know what you want.

As a late-bloomer to dating myself, I’d be rich if I had a dollar every time someone said, “Why don’t you try Tinder?”, “How will you know what you want in life if you don’t date when you’re young?” or “Do you even want to get married?”.

The negative backlash from my “alternative” lifestyle made…


Or should we stick to music written for us?

A photo of a viola da gamba, a cello-like instrument from the 15th and 16th centuries. In the background is a carpet-like tapestry and the table beside the instrument has a box with bows for the instrument.
A photo of a viola da gamba, a cello-like instrument from the 15th and 16th centuries. In the background is a carpet-like tapestry and the table beside the instrument has a box with bows for the instrument.
A photo of a viola da gamba, a cello-like instrument from the 15th and 16th centuries. Photo by author.

My long-time readers will know that I play the viola, as my Medium name may suggest.

Most violists make a living through orchestral and chamber ensemble performances, myself included. While there are amazing solo works written for the viola, we don’t have the immense wealth of repertoire that the violin, cello, or piano has.

If you’re wondering why there are so many viola jokes, it’s because the viola was considered a lesser instrument at one point. Composers wrote mundane, simplistic parts for the viola in orchestral and chamber pieces. …

Viola Geena

Formerly Viola Altiste. Canadian writer who happens to be a violist in a symphony orchestra. All opinions are my own. Twitter: @violageena

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