case reopened


A few months ago, I felt a strange and sudden urge to pull out my violin and show it to Phoebe and Theo.The case had been closed for many weeks. And when I say “many,” I mean a number greater than 52. I vaguely recall having had the violin case open at some point in early 2009. Or maybe I’m remembering a lunchbox. Something was open then.

But that evening a few months ago, I indeed opened up my violin case. I pulled out the violin, and the strings were totally loose. It may shock you to know that I barely know how to tune my violin. My teacher always did it, at the beginning of each lesson. I managed to tune it once, when it got so badly out of tune that I couldn’t practice, and I did a decent job. But this time the strings were so loose they might as well have been just lying on top of the violin. I decided to give it a whirl, anyhow. John pulled out his iPhone with a tuner app, and I started to turn the pegs and the little fine-tuny-screwy-things (that is the technical term), and I was feeling quite pleased with myself…until the E string snapped.

So much for that demo.

But I got to thinking, and the next day or so, I called my violin teacher. For the first time since Theo was born. I asked her about strings, and while I was at it, about starting lessons. For me, and for Phoebe, too. My teacher said she’d work on finding space in her schedule. Eventually, she found a time when she could put our two half hour lessons back-to-back.

Tonight, Phoebe and I started violin lessons together.

I can’t say it was all a joyful, magical experience. Phoebe was tired. She’d had a full day at daycare with no nap, then we’d rushed off to a 45-minute karate class, before rushing home for a rushed dinner, and rushing back out the door. Plus I think she found the process of starting the violin to be pretty anticlimactic. We got her set up with a violin of the right size (quarter-sized). Then it was about learning to hold the violin with her chin, and how to properly hold the bow. That was about it. By the time we got to my part of the lesson, which ended up being only the last 15 minutes of our hour, she was pretty much done for. She collapsed on the floor next to me, periodically rallying herself enough to tug on my arm while I attempted to play. In spite of this, I enjoyed myself. I remembered more than I was expecting. (Not that we tried any of the more advanced things I’d worked on when last I’d had lessons, over 2 years ago. We worked on stuff that was probably from my first or second year of lessons.)

Next week, we go back.

I feel like this post needs some sort of snappy ending, but I’m too tired to think of an ending, and I need to make Phoebe’s lunch and get to bed. So I’ll post a completely unrelated photo to distract you.


Hey, look. Tires. ‘Cause I’m tired. Ha, ha, ha.

31 responses to “case reopened

  1. I always always always wanted to play a string instrument. mom made me play the stinky flute

    • I don’t know why I have an affinity for stringed instruments over wind ones, but I definitely do.

      It’s not too late for you, Christine…

  2. Yay! It’s great that you’re starting again, even if you don’t end up getting to play much. I hope Phoebe will enjoy her lessons!

    My parents made me take piano, but I was never that into it; I quit as soon as they let me. Now, though, I’m vaguely toying with the idea of learning to play some sort of accordion-like instrument. And when I say “vaguely toying with the idea”, I really mean that I like the idea in theory but will probably never do anything about it!

    • I’m intrigued by the phrase “accordion-like instrument.” Is there a family of instruments that are accordion-like without actually being accordions?

      I had piano lessons very briefly when I was 7 or 8, but then taught myself to play other things after the lessons stopped. I think mostly badly, at least as far as rhythm goes. But I did learn to read the notes.

      • A full-sized accordion is quite heavy, which doesn’t appeal to me. (A friend of mine in college had one. She liked to strap her friends into it and take pictures before they could disentangle themselves!)

        I actually don’t know huge amounts about this, despite my love of all things accordion-related, but there is indeed a family of accordions and their kin.
        By “accordion-like instrument” I meant some (possibly smallish) sort of squeezebox, defined by Wikipedia as “any musical instrument of the general class of hand-held bellows-driven free reed aerophones such as the accordion and the concertina”. See:
        http://squeezebox.wikia.com/wiki/Squeezebox_field_guide

  3. The more enjoyable ways that you can find expression, the richer life is. Thank you for sharing this good thing.

    • “The more enjoyable ways that you can find expression, the richer life is.”

      I really like that, De.

      And yes, it does seem nice to share something positive. I almost shared stuff about our exploding water heater. (And may yet…be forewarned. Though “exploding” makes it sound more interesting than it really was. “Spewing” is probably more accurate.)

  4. Cool! I love that you’re taking lessons together. Even if the lesson didn’t go quite as perfectly as you might have hoped, it still sounds like a good start to me.

  5. Yikes – yours and Phoebe’s schedule sounds… really busy, Alejna. No wonder you feel tired. And yes, I’m glad you put up that tires photo because it’s really beautiful. (On a language note: be glad you write American English — otherwise, you couldn’t make that tire pun on account of the British English spelling for those rubber things being tyre. :b)

    • Yeah, the day was a bit overloaded. I would have preferred not to have both violin and karate on the same day, but that’s how things worked out. At some point, one or the other will probably change, though.

      And funny observation about the tires! I suppose I could have just said I was tyred. Maybe I’ll spell it that way some time anyhow…

  6. I didn’t know you played violin… did I? Agree with YTSL that you guys sure have a busy schedule. Not sure I could do it all.

    • It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned the violin. I actually only ever remembered writing one post about about playing in a recital</a<, way back when, but when I did a search on "violin,” I see that I used to mention it much more frequently than I remembered.

      The schedule was particularly bad that day, and happily is not always like that. John often takes Phoebe to karate, and I stay home and make dinner, which is much easier than doing both. But he couldn’t get home in time that afternoon.

      But yeah, it’s tiring. It’s all the driving around that gets me. We live so damn far from everything that it eats into my day just taking the kids to daycare/preschool, or running out to the store.

  7. Cool! I used to plpay the trombone…can’t picture picking that up again. LOL.

  8. That’s so cool that you’re picking up, both figuratively and literally, the violin again. I bet Phoebe will get into it over time.

    • I hope Phoebe gets into it. She was so excited about the idea. And I figure that even if she doesn’t decide to stick it out with the violin, learning about music will carry over to other instruments if she decides she wants to learn, say, the trombone or the accordion.

  9. good for you!
    Mq wants to take violin lessons, and the choir director at my church just happens to have a degree in violin performance, and gives lessons. now to make it happen…

  10. Yay! When my viola skills catch up with your violin skills, we can play duets!

    • I’d totally forgotten that you’d taken up the viola, R! When did you start?

      It would be loads of fun to play together. We should have a play date!

      • Alejna, I took a few lessons last summer but then didn’t have time to continue in the fall. I started again in February, so not long at all.

  11. That’s wonderful, Alejna! I use a metronome/tuner to tune mine and it works really well. There’s a light on it that turns green when you’re on the right vibration.

    • My violin teacher is old-fashioned, and does it by ear, by playing double stops. I can largely hear the correct intervals, but get hung up on the fine-tuning. Perhaps a tool like you use would be good for me. (Of course, that wouldn’t help with me overtightening…I’m also not good at getting the pegs to stay put, especially in the winter, when the air is dry.)

  12. Also, nice post title :)

    • Thanks for noticing, Rima! For ages I had in mind the post title “Case closed” to write about my lack of violin usage. So it seemed fitting to go along with that theme for this.

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