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Hello, fellow Medium members! My [pen] name is Viola Altiste. I am a 26-year-old Canadian professional musician. Currently, I am a section violist in a symphony orchestra. When I’m not practicing, I can be found playing Animal Crossing or learning a new language. As a Canadian, I am always looking for ways to improve my French. I have also taken an interest in Spanish and Italian this past year.

My musical journey began at the age of six when my parents put me in violin lessons. As time went on, I wanted to learn other instruments. I began piano lessons…

A simple way to organize your thoughts

Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

Undoubtedly, the pandemic has taken an immense mental toll on everyone. Even now, many regions are still under a stay-at-home order to control the spread of the virus until the mass distribution of the vaccine.

I currently live in Ontario, Canada, one of those locked down regions at the time of writing. On social media, I see tons of posts from my fellow Ontarian friends who struggle to cope with feelings of isolation and loneliness while waiting to become eligible for their first vaccine dose. …


I missed my chance to get a selfie with Canada’s “hot” prime minister

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He is wearing a grey suit. He is holding a microphone in his right hand with his left hand in the air.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He is wearing a grey suit. He is holding a microphone in his right hand with his left hand in the air.
Photo: “170923-D-DB155–040” by DoD News Photos (CC BY 2.0) on Flickr

Dear Mr. Trudeau,

I get that being prime minister of a country is no easy feat, especially this past year during the pandemic, but could you be more attentive to your adoring fans?

About three years ago, I attended the armchair discussion with the prime minister and Bill Nye: Investments in Canadian Innovation.

I vividly remember waking up at 6 am that morning so that I could get a good seat.

Once I arrived at the venue, I stood in line for a good two hours until the security let us in. I’d gotten there relatively early, so I had…

How to persevere while also knowing when to quit

Photo by Julio Rionaldo on Unsplash

Whether you play a musical instrument, write on Medium, or do competitive sports, you have probably been told that rejection is completely normal. Everyone has experienced it, whether or not they wish to admit it.

I can attest that rising above the pain of rejection is how you will succeed in your chosen field. If I gave up when I didn’t win a competition or got dismissed from an orchestral audition, I wouldn’t have the job that I have today.

I’ve read many articles about writing on Medium or freelance writing in general, and there are numerous parallels between my…


You have to take care of yourself first

Photo by Official on Unsplash

Most of us would do absolutely anything for our best friend. They were always there and gave you much-needed stability in those difficult times.

As with any friendship or relationship, it is imperative to create healthy boundaries. It may be hard for your Instagram followers to believe, but you are two separate people with different needs, goals, and interests. Of course, you should always be there for your BFF, but here are seven things that you do not owe your best friend.

1. Money

It can be devastating to see your bestie going through financial hardships, but you are not their personal…

One of the greatest mysteries of the universe

A piece of sheet music on a wire music stand with some tulips in the foreground.
A piece of sheet music on a wire music stand with some tulips in the foreground.
Photo by Joshua Woroniecki on Unsplash

If you have played any musical instrument, you will know firsthand that individual practicing is an integral part of your journey.

Not only do you need that time to prepare your music for your lessons or rehearsals, but it’s also how you reinforce the important technique fundamentals. Regardless of how long you’ve been playing, taking an extended break from your instrument is going to temporarily set you back, as you will need to retrain your muscle memory.

How much do you need to practice? The short answer is as much as you need to learn all of your music and…

They’re always waiting to see what you will publish next

An elderly man using a Macbook
An elderly man using a Macbook
Photo by Beth Macdonald on Unsplash

The Medium “view-pocalypse” is no joke. While I haven’t been writing that long and don’t know what those so-called glory days were like, getting even 50 views on an article is challenging for me.

It can be infuriating when you work for many weeks, days, or hours on a beautifully crafted article to then count your views on one hand.

You hear about these people who make hundreds, even thousands of dollars a month on Medium and the writers with a smaller following have had articles go viral. …

A challenging balance for musicians

Photo by Tetiana SHYSHKINA on Unsplash

Playing any musical instrument at a high level takes many years of dedicated practice and study with a teacher.

While learning the fundamentals of technique for your particular instrument is essential, people don’t want to pay to hear someone play a scale or etude. They want to hear music.

However, it’s a fine balance because your musical gestures and ideas can get lost in translation if your technique or intonation isn’t solid.

As a student, balancing my technique and musicality was a constant source of frustration. I found that playing with passion and really getting into the musical aspect of…

Those darn musicians and their frivolous pursuits

Microphones in a recording studio
Microphones in a recording studio
Photo by Jonathan Velasquez on Unsplash

As a professional musician in a pandemic, I am all too familiar with being told that my work is non-essential and that I should stay home to prevent the spread of Covid.

While I understand the need to keep everyone safe and healthy, it’s been over 13 months of this pandemic ridiculousness, and I can’t even perform in an online live-streamed concert with my peers at the moment in Ontario, Canada let alone a concert with an audience.

This rage inspired me to advocate for the essential role of art in society. …

This twentysomething is fascinated by your life

Middle-school-age students in a classroom listening to a male teacher in a plaid shirt
Middle-school-age students in a classroom listening to a male teacher in a plaid shirt
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

As a new person to being called “old,” I am genuinely curious about what life is like for those under 20.

At the ripe old age of 26, soon to be 27, I have seen a lot in my life. Most people would still consider me to be a young person, myself included, but I also have moments where I realize I’m not 20 years old anymore. Trust me, when I was your age, I thought 27 was really old too.

There’s a whole generation of kids 10–20 years younger than me, living completely different lives than what I experienced…

Viola Altiste

Canadian violist and freelance writer. Viola Altiste is a pen name. Twitter: @violaaltiste

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