Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My love/hate relationship with the violin

Sometimes I'm so enamored with the violin -- only a little over a year into playing it -- that I'm having a love fest with the instrument.

But about every two months I hit a wall with the damn thing, much like a runner must feel about two-thirds through a marathon. It's a debate whether to smash the thing or simple put it back in its case --- forever.

I've started this music marathon way too late in life to ever be winning any awards or holding any concerts. And I seriously wonder what I was thinking, to begin this at retirement age.

With the violin, I have to make sure I get my fingers on EXACTLY the right spot on the string or the note is wrong. Then I have to remember to hold the bow EXACTLY the right way to make the sound come out melodically, rather than a cat being held under a faucet. Now I also having to remember to hold the instrument correctly so I don't end up back at the chiropractic.

OK, I'm whining. But you get my point.

But then I join a group of fiddlers, guitarists, mandolin players, flutists who accept my elementary efforts and still let me join them in a joyful experience of making music and then I'm okay again.

Two good unexpected benefits so far:

1. My cousin Ruth said she's found some research that says that playing the violin really helps increase memory. Now that would be a Godsend, since my kids say that I have a memory of a twig.

2. I found a new philosophy in life. When I've commented to my violin teacher that the piece I'm learning is hard, he reminds me that "it's just not easy yet."

Great philosophy to keep in mind --- if I can remember.

A recent fiddle lesson. If I don't get the bowing right I'll also never be able to play fast enough --- plus it will sound like 'cat hell' too.

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