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….