I wish a were .. a violinist.

I have always loved music. In the rural area where I grew up, music was brought to us by transitor radios, and by our parents who sang lullabies and whatever songs they knew to us. I was amazed at the young men who played the guitar. They walked about our neighborhood carrying their guitar and strumming and singing on their way. I was fascinated by my sister’s banduria playing and by the schoolchildren passing in front of our house on their way to and from school carrying their bandurias. I was envious when a neighbor bought an upright piano – that was the first in our neighborhood – and enrolled a daughter to piano lessons. Alas! Piano lessons or any other music lessons were beyond our family’s means. I contented myself with listening to the radio, learning the songs I heard, and singing. Whether my family and neighbors liked what they heard or not, I sang anyway. I sang – while washing dishes, cooking before a fire, and doing all sorts of chores.
There was some sort of music lessons in school – which I remember most for the few times that my teacher was present in class – but I would not have any real music lessons until after I was a 29 year old lawyer looking for some ways to enrich my rather boring and stressful life. I had money then, too, to spend for lessons and a musical instrument. I enrolled in violin lessons and I bought a violin, a cheap one, but a cherished treasure nonetheless.
I went to my first lesson like a kid going to school for the first time. Finally, I could realize this vision of myself playing under a silvery moonlight the sweetest, most soulful and achingly beautiful violin music that wafted in the air and filled the hearts of anyone who heard with all sorts of emotions.
But, reality bites. I was mortified that there were others in the class, children as young as five years old toting their little violins. I tried so hard to be not conscious before the budding virtuosos. Their rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and other beginner pieces were superior to mine. They also memorized the pieces faster than I ever could. (To this day, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Bach’s Minuet No. 2, if I am not mistaken, are the only two pieces that I know, more or less, by heart.) They also kept time better than I did. Needless to say, my teacher – who was my age – got frustrated with me a number of times. Yet, somehow I learned and even did a recital or two with the five-year olds.
Being able to play the violin was a great accomplishment for me. For one, it showed my resilience against the banging neighbors’ windows whenever I start practicing at night. On a more serious note, even if I was not the talented musician I dreamed to be, I learned. I improved myself. When I was down, I could turn to the violin for some wholesome diversion.
When I migrated to the States, I brought along my cheap violin. I thought I would continue practicing and learning in my spare time. In the early years of my marriage, I did manage to play here and there. The coming of children, however, kept me almost completely away from the violin. There was  hardly any spare time for violin-playing and even if I had some, I’d rather do something quiet so that I would  not wake up sleeping children. As a consequence, not only had my progress at playing been stalled, but also, and worse, I played worse than before. My fingers have lost dexterity and I see middle age and manual work affecting my finger bones. Still, I hope to resume playing on a more or less regular basis. I even bought a new violin last year when the one I originally had got completely trashed. I know that I will never be a virtuoso,  may not even get past advanced beginner level, and will never get to play Meditation from Thais, but  I will still try to play the violin because I want to and playing the violin makes me happy.

I am joining the DP Challenge:  I wish I were….


  1. Good for you for taking violin lessons as an adult. I wonder if I would have been too self conscious to do it. I do hope you are able to get back to playing.

    I played clarinet in junior high and high school and I still have it. When my older son decided he wanted to play clarinet as well, we rented him an instrument because I couldn’t give up my baby 🙂

    1. Thanks, Janna. You know, I feel that way about my violin. When I play, the children suddenly want to play too. Sometimes, I did not want to let them because the violin is mine. 😉

  2. Playing violin sounds fun. But I think it’s a difficult instrument to play with. Ako, gusto ko matuto mag-gitara naman 😉 I just don’t know if my fingers are still pliant enough given my age lol

    1. I guess it is just as difficult as any instrument. I could not do the guitar because my fingers are too short. You know, my MIL learned to play the guitar and dulcimer in her mid-60’s. I guess it is not too late to learn and to be good at something. 🙂

  3. I love that you took this on! I wish I could sight read music well… I’m one of the few in my family who can’t, and it’s not for lack of lessons or trying… but I will keep loving music and playing instrunents as best I can. Thanks for sharing this! 😉

    1. Thanks, Adinparadise. Apart from the tone of the violin, there was a practical side to the choice of instrument too: a starter violin can be truly cheap. I have not heard of a cheap, i.e., affordable, piano though. 🙂

  4. sarap naman basahin ng post na eto. Me, It tried learning to play the guitar so that I can use to entertain the elderly, but I gave up. Have no talent and my voice is terrible:)

    1. Naku Joy, they will still be happy if you play for them. Palagay ko, mas importante sa kanila ang thoughfulness kaysa super big talent, lalo na kung love k a rin nila. Aral ka uli ng guitar, it is not too late.

  5. You just revived my dream of learning to play piano. I took some lessons in my mid-20’s and, upon realizing what a long process it was going to be, I promptly stopped. I hope I will find the courage to do it again so that I can envisage old age sitting at a baby grand!

    1. Thanks, camparigirl, for the visit and comment.

      I am sure you still have that piano knowledge somewhere in your brain and hands. They will come back to you when you decide to play again. My mother-in-law learned to play the dulcimer, and maybe read notes too, in her ’60s and she is doing well. Take heart. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Madhu. The children are easy learners. One thing that goes for them – they are still not too embarrassed about mistakes. I think that is a great advantage – they can think of things as play.

  6. I commend your determination Imelda… Very brave.. Recently, I went back to something I did many years ago. I’m in a class with kids too and they are faster and better than I am but you know what? I don’t care. My attitude is different now and I’m just glad to be able to do it again. 🙂

    1. That is wonderful, Eof. 🙂 As i just said to Madhu, children have the advantage of not being too embarrassed by mistakes, but we, the more senior ones, have the advantage of knowing that we are doing something that we are passionate about. My kudos to you and I wish you the best. 🙂

  7. Wow, you’re story brought so many of my own memories to the forefront. I have a similar longing to play the piano. Nothing sounds sweeter to me, just as I imagine the beautiful tones of the violin can make your heart melt. I applaud your continued determination to play again one day. Really great piece!

  8. This is possibly one of my favorites of your posts. I love the violin photography, the video you featured, and just the topic in general, because I can relate to it SO MUCH. I’ve been thinking about taking such photos of my favorite instrument, but have just not gotten there yet. The daily kiddos practices somehow get in the way. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this, Imelda!

    1. Thank you, Sandra. I am glad you enjoyed the video. It is one of my most favorite pieces. The photos are rehash. I did not have the time to take new ones. Take photos of the violin being played by your children. That will be very interesting. Then, be inspired to write a poem or two. 🙂

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