What Playing The Violin Has Taught Me About Sex

Morgans pasty white body alongside their pretty pink violin. You can see most of their boob, but not their nipple, because... artsiness?

So, if you read my blog post about the coronavirus pandemic, you’ll know that I’m not exactly coping well with the apparent end of the world. 

So I bought a violin.

I could dissect why I bought a violin. I played violin for about a year when I was ten, almost entirely because my mum told me that if I could stick with it and learn the skills it was meant to teach me – reading music, tuning an instrument, doing things even when they’re hard – we could see about getting me an electric guitar. Except I didn’t stick with it, and when my mum did get me an electric guitar five years later, I didn’t stick with that, either. Maybe I bought a violin in the midst of the pandemic because I wanted to right that wrong and prove I can stick with difficult things. Maybe I bought a violin because I wanted something that reminded me of my childhood which, while turbulent, did not feature coronavirus at all. Maybe I just bought it because it was shiny and pink and matched my phone case.

It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that, so far, I am sticking with it. And I’m learning some skills which I’ve realised I can apply to sex – skills I’m going to tell y’all about, in case you were on the fence about your own ridiculous violin purchase. 

The first of these skills is, of course, perseverance. Whether it’s the BPD or just who I am as a person, I’m extremely sensitive to the feeling that I’ve failed, and will usually avoid activities I’m not already good at for the sake of my sanity. Avoidance works well, as dysfunctional coping strategies go, but it means that I never practice the skill of taking on the information I’ve learned from “failing” and trying something different. Practising violin has meant a lot of wincing at notes I’ve played “wrong” (as much as you can ever go wrong when doing something artistic) but then readjusting my fingers and trying again. Similarly, in sex, it’s important to be able to take feedback on board, readjust your fingers and try again, preferably without crying. Playing violin has taught me that I might not be instantly good at everything, but that I’m capable of improving and that trying again is worth the effort.

Playing violin has also taught me to slow down when something isn’t going my way, rather than to panic. Taking one’s time is important during sex, even during quick, desperate fucks, because it’s the difference between putting a condom on correctly or having it split on you, or between bumping someone’s cervix with a dildo and not doing that, or between sustaining an injury and coming out of the fuck unscathed. 

On the topic of injuries: violin is teaching me the hard way to listen to my body. I’m very good at ignoring or muscling through alarming levels of pain, but I can’t do that with the violin, because in the long term (“long” here meaning “a few hours” – I’m still not good at conceptualising the future beyond that) I know it will bite me in the arse. See, I’m excited to be learning the violin, and that means that I have to stop when it hurts, so that I can play some more later that day. (And oh my God, does it hurt – it works muscles in my back I didn’t know existed, and leaves me clutching my wrist or shoulder and wincing if I overdo it.) Stopping activities when they start to hurt me is not something I’m well-versed in, but it’s important even for a masochist like me to be able to read their own body and react accordingly. (Or accordionly… because, you know, musical instruments… I’ll show myself out.)

Then there are the “hard” skills violin is teaching me. My joints fucking suck, but I’m pretty sure I can already feel my fingers getting stronger and my shoulders stabilise a little. I’m also constantly improving my hand-eye coordination whilst playing, as well as my ability to multitask and do different things with each of my hands. (I will leave it to you to imagine why this might be helpful during sex.) I can also read music again, after more than a decade of refusing to even look at a stave; reading music isn’t a useful skill for sex, but it’s a useful skill to brag about to the people with whom you’re having the sex. And bragging about my violin progress has boosted my confidence! People find confidence sexy, or so I’ve heard, and all the skills I’ve learnt from the violin have made me more confident in every department – including the sex department. Maybe that’s what I needed from the violin: confidence.

It doesn’t matter, because my violin is shiny and pink, and I can play Mary Had A Little Lamb on it now.


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Skills I’ve Learnt By & From Bottoming

A chalkboard with a mindmap on it, with a lightbulb at its centre. The mindmap is titled "Bottoming Skills" and has six bubbles, which say "boundaries", "self-care", "balance", "processing pain", "communication" and "mindfulness" inside

Last month, I asked my Patreon people what they’d like to see a blog post about for the month of October, and they voted for “Skills I’ve learned or am learning, as a bottom and a human”. So, naturally, I… proceeded to go about three weeks without writing or posting anything. My brain has been on the fritz again and writing about bottoming has fallen to near the bottom of my to-do list (get it?), but at least I can spin it in my favour this time, because one of the most important skills I’ve learned as a bottom is understanding and asserting my boundaries.

Looking after my boundaries comes under the heading of “soft skills”, and it’s a soft skill I’ve had to battle to learn. That’s not a surprise; I’m assigned female and recovering from abuse on top of that, so I’ve spent a lot of time acquiescing on my boundaries for the sake of my safety. In kink, though, the best way to ensure your own safety and wellbeing (and that of the people around you!) is to recognise and assert your boundaries, so that you don’t say ‘yes’ to something you can’t withstand. If you, like me, don’t care much about your own safety or wellbeing, you might find it helpful to reframe it as, “Part of being a responsible bottom is communicating about my boundaries and limitations. It helps my top/dominant if I am forthcoming about what I can and cannot do.” This helps you grant yourself permission to assert your boundaries, and the more times you voice a boundary and have it respected (and even congratulated, with phrases such as, “Good pup for telling me”), the more you’ll train your brain to connect asserting a boundary with having a good time, which is hugely helpful in non-kink contexts, too.

That’s the thing about soft skills like these: I learn or build them whilst bottoming, but they improve my quality of life in vanilla contexts, too. Skills in a similar vein include communication and self-awareness, as well as mindfulness and staying present within my body – something I struggle with, since 1. I dissociate pretty frequently and 2. My brain is usually running at ridiculous speeds and is never fully focused on a single thing. When I’m bottoming, staying present and attentive to my body and brain is essential to my safety as well as my enjoyment of the scene, and this has the pleasant side effect of teaching me that being present inside myself can be a good thing.

Another skill that I practice whilst bottoming and that helps me in my day-to-day life is processing pain. I have hypermobile joints that cause me chronic pain, with acute flare-ups often occurring in cold weather, when I’m ill, when I’m stressed, when I’m not eating right, and/or seemingly at random. It’s hugely helpful to have pain processing strategies to hand for these – things like deep breathing, visualising pain as heat which is radiating from my body, and learning not to freak out because pain is not always equivalent to peril. I’m not learning to ignore pain – in kink, because pain is part of the fun; with my joints, because pain is informative – but I am learning to cope with it.

Bottoming is also teaching me to prioritise self-care. I’m a better bottom (more engaged, more attentive, able to push myself) if I’m well-fed, well-rested and managing my chronic pain appropriately. It’s sometimes difficult to grant myself permission to perform self-care, so, much like with the assertion of boundaries, it’s useful to reframe it as being useful to other people, as well as mixing in the incentive that if I do more self-care, I can do more BDSM.

I have also learned and/or developed “hard” skills from bottoming. Some of these things are as minor and context-specific as coiling my Daddy’s rope for them, but some are bigger – like rope stuff helping me to improve my balance and proprioception. Bottoming-related hard skills are ones I’d like to explore more thoroughly; things like bootblacking would aid my hand-eye coordination, help me to keep my own Doc Martens in good nick and, as a nice bonus, put me into a service-oriented headspace. There are so many ways that bottoming has the capacity to improve one’s quality of life beyond just the bedroom/dungeon/wherever you do kink, and I’m excited to keep exploring them.