How not to learn the violin

How not to learn the violin

When I was in the second grade in Portland, the music teacher asked who wanted to play the violin, and about 10 of us young hopefuls raised our hands.

For me it wasn't so much what the violin looked like or even the sound it made. It was the little cube of golden resin that came with the violin that I loved, along with the shiny black case the violin came in ... and being excused from class: "Judie, you may go to music, now."

On lesson day I could hardly wait to hear, "It's time to go, dear," and for the smell of resin to fill my nose as I slowly rubbed the white bow strings.

After school, there was always the little thrill knowing that classmates saw me walking home with my shiny case.

"Do you play the violin?" I imagined them asking enviously.

What they wouldn't know was the minute I got home, the case disappeared behind the couch, and it stayed there until it was time to take it back to school the following week.

Somehow, I missed the point that the important part of taking lessons was learning to play the instrument. By the end of second grade, my bow strings were dripping with resin, but I couldn't play a note.

Sitting in my car a few weeks ago at Albertsons in Medford, I watched a boy about 10 years old walking down the sidewalk carrying a black violin case.

Whether by accident or on purpose, I don't know, the case dropped from his hand and hit the ground with a clunk. He picked it up, walked a few steps, stopped, lifted the case high over his head with both hands and threw it down on the cement as hard as he could. Not finished yet, he gave it a kick, stepped back, pointed his trigger finger and shouted, "ka-pow, ka-pow." Then he stood staring at the case, picked it up at last and jauntily continued down the street. Had I just witnessed this boy's life-defining moment?

As he disappeared around the corner, I tried to imagine what career he will pursue when he grows up. Well, he might have a great future as an actor, I decided. But one thing is for sure, I'll bet that boy is not going to be a violinist.

Joy reader Judie Bunch lives in Talent.

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