What Musical Instrument Are You?

Instruments can be metaphors for how we see ourselves in the world.

Posted Dec 15, 2013

I thought I was a voluptuous cello, but a musician I knew said I was a violin. The image pleased me. I liked this idea of being light and graceful, yet powerful—the concert mistress who tuned up the orchestra.

Cellos are mellow. Low notes. Not me. And I’m certainly no second violin or viola. Definitely not brassy or reedy. And don’t even think percussion. While I may not hit all the high notes and vibrato of my younger days, I am still well tuned, creating melodies playful and deep.

When I gave the writing prompt, “What instrument are you?” at a workshop, we ended up with nearly an entire orchestra—strings, woodwinds, and percussion. One writer said she was a cello and wrote about pulling a bow lovingly across her strings, singing with a deep, low continuo. Another, who said she was a clarinet wrote about being accessible, but offbeat and jazzy. She wanted have influence without being “the big, brassy voice of the trumpet.” A third said she was a drum, rat-a-tat-tat, a slow brush on the hide of her skin, sometimes jumping joyfully out of her chair. The drum was a beat to dance to.

Instruments can be a wonderful metaphor for how we see ourselves physically and psychologically. Do we feel large or small, airy or grounded? Brassy and shrill or sweet? Thinking about what instrument we are helps us think of the sounds we make in the world—high and staccato or low and rumbling. The image of a particular instrument can be full of meaning and resonance.

Writing prompts:

What instrument are you?

What instrument would you like to be?

Copyright © 2013 by Laura Deutsch