Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

Christmas is Just Around the Corner!

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

My favorite time of year as a violinist is the time immediately before Christmas. There are a couple reasons for this.

First, it seems to me that the most interesting amateur orchestra concerts occur at Christmas. I don’t know why that is. Maybe I just prefer listening to (and playing) music with which I am already familiar. Maybe I enjoy hearing new variations on favorite songs. Maybe I just enjoy the enthusiasm students show when they play songs they’ve sung for years.

Second, the songs and carols just seem to be ingrained in my fingers. I hate to admit it, but there was a time that my instrument lay unused for almost a decade. When I picked it up again, the songs were still there in my fingers. My wife thought that I was reading music, and walked into the room to find me with my eyes closed standing next to the open violin case playing and improvising. Some of what flowed from the instrument had been parts of pieces I’d played years before. Some were improvisations produced on the spot. But they were not only recognizable, they were pretty. When I’m just too busy…when I’m sad…when I’m frustrated it is the music of Christmas that returns to me again and again.

So, I’ll play this year. I’ll listen this year. I’ll enjoy the songs for my 57th Christmas as much as I did for my tenth — when violin was still a new and wonderful mystery to me. I hope you enjoy the music of the season as well.

Well, back to the Violin Student Central website.


Remember, we don’t work the violin, or struggle the violin, or suffer the violin…the verb we use is play!

Thankful for Violin

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Boy Playing ViolinI started violin lessons when I was in fourth grade. I was really happy about it.

But I can tell you that at various times in my playing career I have been somewhat less enthusiastic than others. But at age 56 I can tell you that I am Thankful that I learned to play the violin. Here are some reasons why.

My first teacher was Ellen Buxton (nee Shenton). One of the first things that she told me was that I was really lucky to be allowed to learn an instrument. I never really thought about that before I took lessons from her. But many people want to learn to play an instrument and never get the chance. The teacher is not there. They can’t afford an instrument. Their parents just don’t think it is important. The buy into the fiction that three years of high school football is more rewarding than picking up an enjoyable lifelong skill, and then regret it ten years down the line. Mrs. Buxton reminded us all that it is a privilege to learn an instrument. I’m thankful for that.

Mrs. Buxton also let us know that we were not going to make the immediate progress that many of us were used to in school. I was a member of an “enriched” class, in which many of the students were quite smart. We read something, and it stuck. We were articulate and polite, so many of us were well liked by adults. We worked for a little while, and we achieved what we wanted. Violin wasn’t like that. And most of life isn’t. Immediate gratification was not going to be the norm for my life, and my screeching on the violin just drove that home. It was a lesson I needed to learn, and I’m thankful for it.

I’ve met a lot of people because of violin who I never would have known. Several world-renowned musicians in Rock, Folk, and Classical genres. Instrumentalists gathering from hundreds of miles away for special events. Young ladies who had recently immigrated to the United States, and spoke very little English, but got the chance to play music in school. I’m thankful for that.

A chance to step away from the nonsense of daily life and participate in something more transcendent on occasion. I’m thankful for that.

Just some thoughts on this Thanksgiving Eve.

BTW, I’m Thankful for your stopping in to read what I had to say.