The Call of the Violin

Long ago, I used to play violin every day. I was at my musical ‘peak’ in grade twelve, when I attended the Young Artists’ Performance Academy at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, and practiced two hours a day. At that point, I tossed around the idea of becoming a professional musician, but gave it up in favour of travel and books. Shortly thereafter, I left for a year in Brazil, which put me so far behind with conditioning that it would be have been hard to study music at university. Besides, I got to read books for five years while getting my degree, and that was very much to my liking.

Over the course of eight years, however, I’ve learned that relegating an instrument to the status of ‘hobby’ means it doesn’t get played. Perhaps others are more dedicated at playing for themselves on a regular basis, but I need goals in order to keep practicing. I never pull out my violin unless asked to perform for a specific occasion. Then, when I do, it’s a stressful ordeal involving a whole lot of stage fright, tense days of frantic practicing, and very tight forearms and sore fingers. I’ve lost conditioning, technique, and all my callouses; it’s rather depressing.

Accompanying a local choir this past summer
Accompanying a local choir this past summer (photo: Peter Little)

Ever since A. started his violin lessons in November, I’ve been thinking about how much I miss the presence of classical music in my life on a daily basis. (I’m sorry to say his scraping and squeaking can hardly be classified as music yet.) After all these years, I’m beginning to wonder if I could do it again. Could I possibly go back to taking lessons and practicing? As a kid, it was relatively easy to learn an instrument because I always had two parents checking up on me, holding me accountable, making me do it even when I didn’t feel like it. Now it would be entirely up to me, and that responsibility is a bit scary.

I have a dream of someday doing a violin recital. To me, it seems a rite of passage, and though I was supposed to do a recital during that year of study in Toronto, for some reason I never got around to it. It would take me a long time to get the point where my technique and repertoire would allow such a performance, but at least it would be a good goal to have.

I don’t know what I’m going to do, especially considering that violin would require a monthly commute to Toronto for lessons. Or I could tackle something new, such as piano lessons locally, which is something I’ve always dreamed of doing. In the meantime, I’ll keep listening obsessively to YouTube clips of Jascha Heifetz playing Vitali’s Chaconne and Joshua Bell playing Kreisler’s Praeludium and Allegro, in hopes of discovering the answer.

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3 thoughts on “The Call of the Violin

  1. Im thinking a bit far in the future (because my dad SAYS I can have my piano this summer but he’s not always the best with follow through), but we could play a duet if you’re interested? I can start learning a piece now, I just have to practice in Kincardine. I miss classical music too 😦

    1. Thanks, Mom. I’m leaning that way because I do miss the city and it would be nice to have a reason to connect with it again. I’ll have to give my teacher a call!

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