Sunday, October 28

On music

In fifth grade, my school system finally introduced us to a music program. You could choose a stringed instrument in fifth grade, or a band instrument in sixth. I wanted to be in the band because my older brother played trumpet, but I started violin anyway. In the middle of fifth grade, my family moved to Belgium.

I went to a private international school while I was there, since I couldn't speak the language and would likely be held back at least two years in the Belgian school system. Also, the government was paying for the school. Nice.

On my first day, I had no idea what was going on. People dragged me around everywhere, and at one point it was "music period."

"What do you play?" They asked.

"Violin," I told them. Before I could qualify that with my desire to be a flutist, they took me to the orchestra room.

For the next three years, I was a violinist. At first, I was like many a player: I didn't practice at home, and didn't really care much about class. One day, though, something seemed to lock into place. I started practicing at home, I played to get my emotions out, and I joined the after school ensemble.

Our orchestra group went to The Netherlands to play in a student competition with a bunch of other schools. At the end of the day, the judges' top choices for each instrument played. I remember watching the violinist play her amazing solo. My friends were whispering to each other about where to eat lunch, but I was transfixed. The violin she was holding was almost immaterial; it seemed as though it was just being used as a tool to express what she was trying to say. I was stunned.

One day back at school, the orchestra teacher brought in a jazz piece. I had never encountered jazz music before, and I was new to the concept of solos. The teacher had me go first, and I got a little lost in the experiment. I started really getting into it, and eventually the teacher had to stop everyone to remind me that the solo only goes on for a certain number of measures. I was jolted, as if out of a trance, and immediately embarrassed. But we didn't get right back to playing.

"TAB," said the teacher, with a look of bewilderment. "What did you just do?"

Everyone was looking at me.

"What? Did I do it wrong?" I asked, my cheeks getting hot.

"No. That was amazing."

That year, I became first violinist and won the prize for Most Valuable Player.

When we moved back to the US, I was put in the back of the second violinist section, in an orchestra group four times bigger than I had previously played. After long enough, I became convinced that the conductor didn't know my name. I remember being shocked when she mentioned my name in class in reference to a composition assignment. My mom stopped paying for a private tutor. Two years later, I quit orchestra to take theatre. I have barely touched my violin in the five years since then.

I think I am going to start playing again.


Nadine said...

That was absolutely beautifully written. I was taken back to your time in school and could picture it in my mind. You should pick up again and play with great freedom.

Anonymous said...

You should go back and play again, even it is just for the fun of it. It is something you were good, don't let it leave you. If you do, you'll be sorry when you grow older.

londongirl said...

Absolutely please do go back - just reading about it made me feel transfixed. If you have a talent, it'd be a shame not to use it!

And do post you playing the violin - I'd love to hear it.

lowly peasant errand girl said...

Definitely go back to it. I almost went to school for music, but figured architecture would get me further. I haven't touched my instrument in 4 years, and I miss it very much. Do it while you're still in college, because the chances you'll get to play after are slim to none.

Paula Invisigirl said...

do it do it! music is amazing! beautiful writing btw.

Sarah said...

Without the Belgium part, I went through the exact same thing too. Even the part about getting fed up and quitting for theatre.

Bad news is I picked mine up again a few months back and I had to retape my finger positions. They just don't fall into place like they use to.

Anonymous said...

yes!!pick up your violin,
if you want to learn the flute, you can learn pretty easily by yourself, or you can take lessons

kittenpower said...

oh! how sad! you must play again.