I took violin lessons at the Eastman School of Music Community Music School in the late 1990s. I still have my violin but laid it aside for several years when life interfered with my musical pursuits. Until this past fall, that is, when the urge to play returned in full force.
Now, the violin is an instrument with a split personality. Despite its beautiful, almost ethereal sound, it is frustrating to learn, sometimes to the point of distraction. It is susceptible to cold and dry weather, and it frequently needs tuning. But, I find that the (sometimes not so) simple act of tuning the strings pulls me in and forces me to focus on the moment, and focusing on the moment is something I sorely need to master. Playing the violin also requires my full participation, as the sounds emanating forth from the strings frequently degenerate into squeaks and scrapes if I don’t pay attention. There’s something rather Zen about the whole endeavor.
I’ve returned to the basics, re-educating myself on violin note reading and practicing scales over and over to improve my bow handling and note recognition. The exercise works wonders for my mood and emotional health following the challenges I’ve faced these past few months. Making music is my prayer to the Universe, a reaffirmation of life. Something positive to focus on for a change! Grabbing the violin and squeaking out a song or two is like turning to an old friend for comfort.