It’s hard to imagine a time when the world didn’t know the name “Lindsey Stirling”, but it existed. Her performances have been viewed all over the world. She has won awards and received monetary and critical success. Lindsey is the quintessential internet success story having begun her rise to stardom via her YouTube channel, LindseyStomp.
But many people may not know the hurdles that she had to overcome. Many times, we look at someone as successful as Lindsey and we simply see the accolades and not the adversity. Well, I hope that this article will bring you some new information on her journey and in turn, provide inspiration to anyone who is struggling to forge a path to their dream.
A Stirling upbringing
Growing up, Lindsey’s family did not have limitless means. In fact, her parents were only able to afford 15-minute violin lessons only once a week. By most accounts, that’s half of what most teachers provide for a single session. Possibly just as discouraging, teachers told her parents that she would never be able to learn violin with such short lessons with so few sessions per week. And yet, her parents persevered.
Lindsey began taking violin lessons at the age of 5 and continued her studies throughout her formative years. While living in Gilbert, Arizona, she made her way through Greenfield Junior High School and Mesquite High School. In high school, she joined a band named “Stomp on Melvin”. This was a band of friends that helped Lindsey to grow in composition and exposure with a group. While she was performing with SoM, she wrote a solo violin rock piece that helped her win Arizona Junior Miss.
Dancing in her heart
Throughout this time, Lindsey was following her love of the violin, but she had another love. She remembers always wanting to dance. When she was young, she wanted to take dance lessons as well as violin lessons, but her parents did not have the finances. They told her, “’You [can] choose violin or you [can] choose dance, but we can’t afford both’”. Though she chose violin, dancing would become one of the things that defined her.
Lindsey started her YouTube channel in 2007 and simply began to upload videos of her performing her now famous brand of “violin hip hop”. Her channel began to grow, and people regularly came across her interesting take on a classical instrument. I’m sure by now you can guess that people liked it! Though she continued to write, record, and perform, her big break(or big heart break) wouldn’t come until 2010 when she performed on America’s Got Talent.
Lindsey entered the competition on season 5 of the show. Initially, she was greeted with praises and unanimous agreement that she was talented and interesting. However, when she got to the quarter-finals of the competition, the judges felt her performance failed to live up to their standards. Piers Morgan even stated that he felt she wasn’t talented enough to play the violin and dance. Basically, he told her she didn’t have the ability to perform the unique style that she had personally created.
Lindsey remembers how distraught she was after receiving the results, “I was devastated at the results … It was painful, and a bit humiliating; however, I had to relearn where it was that I drew my strength.” Lindsey knew that she could not allow one experience to dictate her future. If she had packed up shop and not continued to pursue her goals, she would have essentially allowed someone else to tell her how to be herself.
Lindsey would later reflect on this concept in 2012 when she said, “A lot of people have told me along the way that my style and the music I do…is unmarketable. But the only reason I’m successful is because I have stayed true to myself.”
Her sound, her way
Lindsey continued to be herself and found that there were a lot of people that liked her style. Additionally, America’s Got Talent gave her national and international recognition. Now, people from all over the world were searching for her online. She started filming, recording, and producing more music videos for YouTube and her channel took off like a rocket.
She would go on to win countless awards on multiple continents and perform with A-list musicians in world-famous venues. As much of a household name as Lindsey has become, none of her present-day success would have happened had she not decided to follow her gut and pursue what made her unique. The key to Lindsey’s success lies in her realization that there were people who loved what she had to offer. They loved her style, her charm, her energy, and her music.
Musicians need to learn from Lindsey. Find listeners that like your style and write and perform for them. There will always be naysayers, but remember that they can’t tell you who you are unless you let them. A great line I once heard is, “you do you…”. If you can find the strength to make this a reality, perhaps you too can find success like Lindsey Stirling.