When Nina Violet was four years old she received a package addressed specifically to her. It was from her cousin, seven-year-old Floyd. She was so small she had to dive into the packing peanuts to find what lay inside: a pint-sized violin. Her first musical instrument.

That was a long time ago. Now, at 34 years of age, Ms. Violet is an established violist, songwriter, string and winds arranger. She has toured the United States and the United Kingdom with bands and under her own name. She has released three solo albums, and her string arrangements have been heard in songs on shows such as Breaking Bad.

And yet, lately, she has not been performing much, choosing for the most part to turn her back on the music industry. This summer, she did perform two shows on the Vineyard, one at the Grange Hall and once at the Tabernacle.

“It’s a cycle of gross . . . it’s not a very modern place to be a lady, the music world,” she said on recent morning, sitting barefoot in her shared vegetable garden in Oak Bluffs, a plate of whole-wheat birthday cake set out on the table. She is also at odds with the decidedly not rural nature of the industry. She likes to get up early, work in a garden and grow her own food. Music takes flight at night in bars and clubs in cities. But Ms. Violet is not new to going against the grain.

Performing at the Tabernacle earlier this summer, one of her rare performances these days, with harpist Annie Howell. — Ray Ewing

“I found myself in male environments all my life,” she said. “I was raised by a single father, I drove a dump truck starting when I was 15, I worked on a farm before that. Most of the stuff that I’ve done was male dominated. Only when I was in my 20s did I become a gardener, which is female dominated. Music and labor, my two gigs, and those are two gigs where you have to prove your metal. Unless you get wise enough to know you don’t have to prove anything. At this point, I have nothing to prove.”

Ms. Violet made quick use of that first violin she received. She was allowed to join the All Island Strings Program as a kindergartner, one year earlier than most. When her music teacher, Stephanie Kupchynsky, said that not many people played the viola, young Nina volunteered to switch immediately. She was drawn to the uniqueness but also to the low tones of the instrument.

Cocky in her innate ability, Ms. Violet said didn’t practice her viola much in those early years. But in fifth grade her music teacher Mike Tinus gave her a much needed reality check.

“Mike Tinus showed up and was like you’re pretty good . . . but you’re not that good,” she said. “I appreciated him so much, his being a hard ass was a version of respect, holding me to a higher standard.”

As she got a bit older, Ms. Violet was swept up with rock and roll. She went to shows at Wintertide and formed a band with a few neighborhood girls. The band never settled on a name. Ms. Violet played guitar and wrote the songs. They raised $150 with a lemonade stand to buy a bass.

In high school she felt as if everyone else was figuring out their path, but she was already set. College seemed more of a financial risk than reward so after graduating from the regional high school she set off on a cross-country tour with Island band Kahoots.

Ms. Violet left the tour in Seattle, Wash. to stay with a friend and try her luck in the music scene there. In Seattle, she felt anonymity for the first time. Under age, she was not allowed to play in many clubs or bars, so she made her living busking. When she was 20, she spent two months in San Francisco without a net.

She’s been back on the Island for over five years now. She ran the Pit Stop with her father, Donald Muckerheide, creating a thriving music scene in Oak Bluffs for awhile. Now living at a campsite in West Tisbury, working on her music but staying away from playing in bars, she faces the same problem many Island kids do: she can’t afford to live here much longer.

“You will not meet another person who is 34, it’s hard, there are very few,” she said. “There is a big section of people missing.”

Ms. Violet said that although working in isolation on songs can be easy, she appreciates working with others because it challenges her to find a new perspective. With Milo Silva she started the Mint House to help inform their work. They favor improvisation and do crash recording sessions with Dave Smilie, where they eschew careful planning for momentary inspiration.

“The idea of trying to react and listen to each other as much as possible, exploring connectivity and spontaneity,” she said.

Ms. Violet said she isn’t sure where her life would have gone if she hadn’t been swept up by music, but that she also doesn’t know where she is headed next.

“I didn’t pick the big music scene because I didn’t like the lifestyle,” she said. “I almost signed a huge deal, and I didn’t. That’s it. That’s all. Big deal. I’m choosing to have my life and I can do it however I want and just because I’m good at something doesn’t mean I’m obligated to pursue it 100 per cent. Because I did. And I didn’t like the news.”

She’s getting married this summer. She’s exploring visual art. She’s working on her fourth album. She’s living life her way.