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My violin, my violin

I am a fine musician,
I practise every day.
And people come from miles around
just to hear me play.
My violin, my violin…
they love to hear my violin…

This old Play School song is going through my head – along with David Garrett’s version of Coldplay’s Viva la vida – because I have recently started learning the violin!

One of the main characters in the current young adult book I’m writing plays the violin – it’s a crucial element of her identity. Don’t ask me why – I had an image of a teenage girl playing a violin in an empty tram and knew I wanted to write a story about her.

I wanted to write this part of her story with a little more knowledge so I bought a beginner’s violin and booked in for some lessons.

Some observations:

  • It’s an interesting process to learn something completely new as an adult, because let’s face it, it takes a while to learn the basic skills. I had to fight my frustration at hearing such awful screeching sounds coming from my beautiful violin, and my frustration at having to practise again and again the basic bow hold, even how to position the violin under my chin and the boredom of doing the same basic bowing techniques over and over and over.
  • But oh the satisfaction in making a beautiful sound, even if it’s just one reverberating D string!
  • The dismay on my children’s faces when I suggested I could play a few strings to summon them to dinner!
  • The pride in being able to play Twinkle twinkle little star – not well. Not fluently. Not hitting the right string every time. Not seamlessly easing from the E string with three fingers held down, thank you very much, to the A string. But I can play a somewhat recognisable version.
  • The rituals – how I love the ritual of adding rosin to the strings on my bow, then using the tuning app on my phone to tune my violin, before settling the violin into position tucked into my neck.
  • The distinct sound of my husband or children shutting the hall door when they hear the first screech of my violin!

I’ve been out a couple of times to listen to a contemporary violinist. First of all, how wonderful to be out in Melbourne hearing live music! And then all the notes I took, how each violinist held her bow with such grace, how the violin sounded played with the piano or the drums, how both violinists were also singers and how they moved between singing and playing effortlessly.

My violinist character now has some added depth, some authenticity as I describe her playing movements or talk about her musical dreams. I have a stronger image of her playing her violin in an empty tram now.

And sure, thanks for asking, if you’re interested, I can probably free up some time to play jazz violin at your next event – just check with my manager!

Structural editing and aborio rice

6 Comments

Pamela

Thank you for sharing this. I have visions of the family scurrying and of you playing beautifully and surprising them! It’s given me a joy that is needed at this point of time.💕

March 26, 2021 at 7:46 am

Colleen

Go girl, if anyone can become a beautiful violinist it is you 🌹

March 26, 2021 at 8:49 am

David Dixon

Karen,

If all you need to succeed is determination (or pluckiness in this case), musical appreciation and a supportive family, you will be on stage in no time.

March 26, 2021 at 12:41 pm

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