The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.
Front and Center: Professional Electric and Acoustic Violinist, Bridgid Bibbens
By Gabriella Steffenberg
Bridgid Bibbens began taking violin lessons at the age of 3, and has been immersed in the world of music ever since. She is is a multi-genre violinist and breaks the stereotype of violin being a strictly classical instrument. She’s performed with major artists across the board, including Christina Aguilera, Jay Z, Alicia Keys, John Mayer, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Being one of the most sought-after and well-known electric and acoustic violinists in the game, Bibbens is constantly in high demand as a studio player and performer, as well as a solo artist. With all of that mixed in, she still takes the time to teach across the country and immerse herself in yoga practice. Check out Bibbens’ website here.
WiMN: You do so much! How do you find time to balance everything from touring, studio recording, teaching, writing, practicing, and fitting in your hobbies?
BB: I am very lucky to have a good balance. I am grateful to be busy, but I think there’s a danger in being “too busy.” I’m always active, always doing something, but I keep my priorities in order. My yoga practice has taught me to take care of myself first, then the rest falls into place. I’m careful not to let myself feel overwhelmed, otherwise nothing will get done well and I’ll just be sick and miserable – and so will those around me.
WiMN: You’ve said that in the past you never thought you’d be able to teach. What changed your mindset?
BB: I began to teach more private lessons when I was in college, and fell in love with the learning process. It’s a unique challenge to approach each student – whether in a private, a classroom, or a large ensemble setting – in a way that they learn best.
Those “lightbulb” moments that every student has are so rewarding to me as their guide. Sometimes they happen weekly, and sometimes it takes months and months of practicing the same thing with different approaches. The process of getting to those milestones is fascinating to me. I love empowering others to want to learn and explore on their own, assess themselves, and come up with their own best strategies to move forward.
WiMN: What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through your experience teaching thus far?
BB: I think the most important thing is that I’m not just teaching someone how to play their instrument or how to play a certain piece of music, but that I’m encouraging them to find their own voice and celebrate their own unique gifts.
When I first began teaching, I wanted every student to become a great musician. Over the years, I’ve realized that it’s so much more important that they become a great human. If they happen to become a great musician in the process, that’s just a fantastic added bonus.
WiMN: Your debut album, Sugar & Steel, was released in 2013. What’s in the works for your next project? Do you plan on recording your own original pieces?
BB: This summer is going to be all about writing my own music. I’ve been working on it here and there, but I have a lot of ideas that need to come out one way or another. I’m also writing original rock/pop music and arranging current pop music for school orchestras.
WiMN: What’s been the biggest challenge musically that you’ve had to overcome?
BB: Writing and recording my own ideas has been so hard for me – which is why there’s nothing recorded yet! I blame my classical training for that, actually. It was always so forbidden to think outside the box as a classical violinist, and while I’ve branched out considerably in the past 10-15 years, I’m still a classical violinist at my core. My early teachers who would “tsk tsk” at me for bowing in the wrong direction, or playing a note out of tune or out of time, still float around my head when I play or write, so I’m terribly self-conscious and critical of my own ideas… I’m working on that.
WiMN: If you could give any piece of advice to fellow female musicians out there, what would you tell them?
BB: Have a firm handshake, know your stuff, and know your worth. It wasn’t until I got into the non-classical world that I realized how much disparity between the genders exists in the music business!
I have been shocked at how rudely I’ve been treated by male sound techs, booking agents, and even fellow musicians. It’s been a huge motivator, though – I make sure to really know my stuff. I don’t just show up to the gig and ask the sound guy to set up my gear. I know my gear and I know what to tell the tech I need. I know my worth and refuse to undersell myself, and I’m not afraid to say no or to stand up for what’s right. It’s almost laughable when a sound tech is surprised that I know what I’m doing. Just because I may show up to the gig wearing a short skirt doesn’t mean I can’t haul my own gear, know what I need in the monitors, and play circles around the lead guitar player. 😉