It was the day before the big blizzard was expected to hit Massachusetts, and people all over the state were scrambling to buy their eggs and milk and bread and wine. I found myself in a school, in front of a crowd of several hundred people. And I played the fiddle.
I wasn’t wearing my pajamas, and I wasn’t late for a final. It was not, in fact, a nightmare. It was real, and I was actually supposed to be there. I was one of a small group of parent musicians accompanying the elementary school concert.
Flash back to December. Phoebe mentioned that her school music teacher was looking for an adult to play small violin part in the upcoming February concert. I was intrigued. I’ve been taking violin lessons for a few years, but I have never labeled myself as a violinist. I mean, I take lessons. I am, if anything, a student violinist. The only performances I had ever done with violin were a handful of recitals with my violin teacher and her other students, playing a single song in front of a moderately small audience composed mainly of the parents of the other students. (Who were mostly kids.) And the last of these was 5 years ago.
After some rather fruitless efforts trying to communicate with the teacher via Phoebe, I tracked down the teacher’s email address, and let her know I was interested in learning more about what she needed. She wrote back that another parent had already responded, and she was waiting to hear back. She decided to send me the music to look over, anyhow, in case the first parent decided not to participate. It turned out that there were more violin parts than I had expected, with violin parts to accompany 9 of the songs that the kids would be singing. Nine. On the bright side, they were fairly straight-forward. They were American folk songs, including “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” and “Skip to My Lou.” Phoebe really wanted me to play the violin part of “Fiddle-I-Fee,” one of the songs her grade would be singing, and which featured a prominent fiddle part. I started to learn the music, and became really taken with the idea of playing in the concert.
In the end (and there was a lot of back and forth and waiting and anxiety on my part in the meantime), we worked it out that the other parent and I would both participate, and we’d split the songs. We each took on the violin parts for 4 songs, which were grouped by grade, and then both learned the final song, which was a number sung by all the grades.
I spent a lot of time practicing, and worked on the music with my violin teacher during my lessons, in place of the classical music I usually play with her. I pretty well immersed myself in those songs. I played the CD, provided by the school teacher, of computer-generated instrumental versions of the songs in my car for a month straight. (I mean, when I was driving. I didn’t go out of my way to sit in the car to listen.) I played along with the CD. I played without the CD. I watched YouTube instructional videos on fiddling techniques. I worked myself up. I talked myself down. I played till my fingers were sore.
The concert came, with its two performances to accommodate the crowds of family members of the 400 students of the school, and felt I did pretty well. At the very least, I didn’t embarrass myself (or Phoebe).
I had a great time.
I could write loads more about the whole experience, but I should probably just move along. But I will say that I’d love to find more opportunities to perform.
Anyone need a fiddler?
The Hey diddle diddle image is from wpclipart.com.