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Cpl. Ashley Arvis, expeditionary airfield support specialist, Marine Wing Support Squadron 374, plays violin for Joshua Tree Philharmonic Orchestra at the High Desert Cultural Center in Joshua Tree, Calif. She has been playing the violin since she was seven years old. (Official Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Levi Schultz/Released)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Levi Schultz

What I’ve Learned: Ashley Arvis

14 Apr 2016 | Lance Cpl. Levi Schultz Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

When I was seven years old, I saw my cousin practicing the violin. I asked my mother if I could play too and she got me my first violin. I’m 23 now and I’ve played violin for almost 16 years.

The violin is a very soothing instrument. It serves as a pick-me-up for when I’m feeling mentally and physically exhausted after a long day of work.

I really enjoy playing in an orchestra because there is a family dynamic. Everyone works together toward a common goal. I also like playing in a quartet but if you make a mistake it is a lot more noticeable.

With Joshua Tree Philharmonic, we rehearse every Monday night at the Joshua Tree Cultural Center. We also hold concerts for the local community.

I believe the hardest part of being a musician is being a perfectionist. When you’re practicing on your own, you can work on something until it’s perfect. However, when playing for an audience you only have one chance to get it right.

I grew up 20 minutes from Chicago in Elmhurst, Ill. Our school was very music oriented and while I was in the marching band we had the opportunity to travel to New Orleans to perform. It was a very memorable experience.

After I graduated from high school, I went on a sort of hiatus. Recently, I started playing again because I missed the feeling that came along with making music for others.

I’ve practiced playing with a lot of different instruments. I taught myself how to play the piano when I was 16, the ukulele when I was 17, the guitar when I was 18 and also took lessons to play the drums.

When I was learning the violin, I struggled holding the bow at first because my hand would cramp up. I used a pencil to help me practice and over time it became second nature.

It is frustrating to hear yourself play an instrument poorly at first. Eventually you get the hang of it and it becomes a lot of fun.

My older sister works as a hairstylist and plays the guitar very well. She is much better than me because she practiced a lot to get where she is now.

I joined the Marine Corps for the camaraderie, to travel the world and to meet new people. Being in the military has taught me to be more humble and appreciate the little things such as being able to sleep in on my days off. I definitely have come to appreciate the time I have with my family more.

Another aspect that drew me to the Marine Corps was the challenge. I felt I had to prove to myself that I could make it.

At first my parents didn’t like the idea of me joining the Marine Corps. Over time, they have grown to love it.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms