Technical difficulties have lead me from having this post exactly the way I wanted it to then, nope no more. So I'm going to try my best to recreate what once was. If it doesn't feel authentic, that's why.
When I was in sixth grade I told my parents that I wanted to play the violin.
Perhaps it was boredom that sprung about the desire to want to tackle another instrument in addition to the piano which I had been studying for several years, or perhaps it was the fact that I have never been one for hobbies such as sports, dance, or any activity that required a lot of movement that could result in my being out of breath.
Today I'm still shocked that my mom said yes. Not because she is an unmovable ogre who refused to let me pursue different hobbies, but because when asked why I wanted to play the violin my answer was: "Because it's pretty".
Looking back I suppose I'm lucky she didn't say, "The moon is pretty too, would you like to go there?"
But the joke is on her. I would have agreed, eagerly.
It's hard to express to parents how much they have to push their child to stay devoted to an instrument during the beginning stages of learning it. While today I am the one who can play Bach and Vivaldi concertos on the violin, my mother is the one who gave life to the passion that vibrates from my strings.
I began learning the violin through a video course and it was painful, wonderful, strange, and perfect all rolled up together. Given the chance today, I don't think I would choose a different way to have learned.
My mother sat through every lesson with me, insisting that I follow every order of the conductor while persistently correcting my errors. Lesson learned? If your child wants to learn a difficult instrument, and you want them to stick to it, you should probably plan on learning it too.
After two years of learning with the TV in front of me and my mother spitting out corrections from behind, it became time to establish contact with me, my violin, and a real person. Quite shocking to my mother and myself, the violin teacher at my local mall pronounced me to be no longer a beginner, but at an intermediate level. She dropped me in the middle of the Suzuki method books and within months had me auditioning for an orchestra an hour away from my home. After a crushing defeat in my first audition, I was sure my life was over. Most girls my age were crying over boys and I was crying because I didn't make it in an orchestra after only a few months of real instruction.
By the end of that year, the perfect orchestra for me came my way: an orchestra a half hour from my home comprised primarily of retired senior citizens. The better part of three years was spent in their company and I wouldn't have traded it for any more advanced placement available.
I wish I could tell you that this story gets exceptionally better here. That I advanced and amazed. But the rest truly isn't so fascinating. Music was my only passion at the time, other than my hubby who I had been going with for a little over a year. It was only natural that I went on to study music with aspirations of becoming a professional violinist. I studied at a fantastic college with extremely talented instructors, including but certainly not limited to, my private violin instructor, Michael Ludwig. He directed my course in music, and with a great sense of practicality and kindness he gave me a mental picture of what life as a struggling musician would be like.
That said, I slowly let go of my grip on the dream of becoming a professional violinist. While music still held a place of importance in my life, it slipped little by little down from a place of prominence.
This leads me to ultimately why I began writing this post in the first place. Recently, I had to have my violin repaired because it had a crack in it.
This is not something that any violinist ever wants to see in their instrument that cost more than their first car did. In my mind, this discovery equated to what a mother would feel like if she stood by and watched her five-year-old climb onto the staircase banister, then slide down, and crack his/her head on the hardwood floors.
"How on earth did I let that happen right in front of me?"
I don't know what the mother would chalk it up to, but for me I could only think one thing: neglect. A lack of attention to the instrument that had once dominated my entire life led to this. It could very easily have been just one of those random things that happens, like the time in college when my bridge snapped in half as I was tuning my violin. Unfortunately, I wouldn't let myself get away with such an easy out.
By the way, the bridge snapping in half was not a fun experience either. Just in case you were wondering. I consider it one of the top five scariest moments in my life.
While most musicians in limbo might return with wild excitement to their instruments after being inspired by a performance of Itzahk Perlman or the Boston Symphony Orchestra, this crack in my violin impacted me greater than either of those could.
It was a wake up call that I needed to make this old friend a part of my life again. It had slipped away to a place so far removed that it grew comfortable to ignore. I'm trying this time around to still play with purpose as I did before, but also for my own enjoyment and the enjoyment of those around me. I'm playing now for the love of the art of making music, and even for that dreamy teenager who thought she would become professional one day. I play this time in hopes that the next time my violin needs repairing it is because of too much attention it has been receiving, rather than neglect.