Violin Debacle

The discussion of bands and band instruments the other day reminded me of something that I haven’t thought about in quite a while.

When Child was in the third grade, she came home with a permission slip and information on joining orchestra at school. I was a little skeptical.  When she was five, she wanted to take piano lessons but after 2 months, her piano teacher fired her.  She didn’t want to practice and then at the last lesson apparently she was rude to him (I was in the kitchen when this happened, so didn’t witness it).  She hadn’t made any other overtures toward an instrument, or even music in general, so I was surprised when she informed me she wanted to play the violin.

I always wanted to let her try things, so I read through the papers and signed her up. Luckily the school had a violin she could use for free and the next day she carried it proudly home.  Then for the next week she proceeded to torture the poor thing horrendously.  I can’t even begin to describe it but whatever you’re imagining right now, amp it up.  The dog and cat hightailed it as far away as they could get from her.  I wanted to jump off a cliff, but since that’s not very encouraging to a kid, I pasted a smile on my face and ate a lot of chocolate.  At one point I thought, is it really that hard to make a decent noise on a violin, so while she was at gymnastics, I tried it.  I certainly wasn’t going to win any awards, but I could at least pull the bow across the strings to make a sound somewhat reminiscent of music. So there it was; Child had no violin ability.  Still I let her scratch on because I figured I’d let the music teacher do whatever dirty work was needed.

By the end of the second week, she was practicing much less. While this made all the ears in the household happier, I knew it meant she was losing interest.  The third week she didn’t practice at all, despite my reminders.  There was a practice book in which she was supposed to record how much time she spent playing; I told her that if she wasn’t going to practice she had to be honest and put down “0” or it wouldn’t be fair to Mr. Brown, the music teacher.  So she marked all the days with a “0” and off she went to school.  When she came home that afternoon and she still had the violin, I was a little surprised but not nearly as surprised as when I looked at her practice book and where there had been “0”s that morning, there were now numbers on every day.  10 minutes, 20 minutes, one even said 30 minutes.  She had erased the “0”s when she got to school and written in her false data.

While I appreciated her ingenuity, I couldn’t let this go, so I made an appointment with Mr. Brown, took her with me and had her tell him what she had done and then apologize. He was AMAZING.  He was very kind and understanding.  He asked her if she really wanted to continue and when she said “yes” (I just about fell on the floor), he suggested they give it another week.  Of course she didn’t even pick up the violin the next week so we went in again and met with Mr. Brown to give him the violin back.  She never looked back.

Is there something that you just don’t a talent for?

36 thoughts on “Violin Debacle”

  1. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    Bookkeeping. My brain just won’t go there. I cannot see the details or keep track of what box the number correctly inhabits.

    47 years some poor auto parts business owner had his inventory system utterly wrecked by me. It was the days of mini-skirts, so I brought in a lot of business because mechanics wanted to see my legs (his wife told me that), but the inventory was not accurate. I quit before they fired me.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Renee, I often wonder whether people are really gifted with the ability to draw or whether that’s just the outcome of doing a lot of drawing, getting more skillful as they get more experienced. This surely isn’t an either/or deal; practice makes us all better, but maybe inherited talent still is important. I go around and around with this question. My dad at a very early age was fascinated by drawing, so he did it a lot (and paid a terrible price for it when he was young). Eventually he became known as an artist. Was it talent or experience that made him good? Or both?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmm, I don’t mean to be coy about how Dad suffered for his love of art. His own father told my father that only queers liked art, a charge that warped my dad’s life. He had a grade school teacher who thought drawing was pandering to the Devil by making forbidden images. When she found sketches in his school notebook, she slapped Dad hard enough to send him flying. He was unconscious for a while, and hours afterward his face still bore a red image of her hand. But he still drew at every possible moment.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This morning at 6:13 I awoke to a crash and a flash. Then I smelled the ozone. The firetrucks have just left the cul de sac about 50 feet behind, and down the bluff behind us. My neighbor called to tell me that her husband, the fireman had responded to the call and to be sure our house was not it danger.

    Too close.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. Daughter was at a Women’s Professional soccer match near Tacoma last week, and the game was cancelled due to a thunderstorm. I think it was the storm that led to 1200 lightening strikes on Puget sound. That would be scary.

          Liked by 2 people

  3. Slightly OT, but the discussion about band instruments reminded me of the time when our band director was giving one of my classmates a summer lesson on a concert tuba. Those sorts of tubas have a bell that points upward toward the ceiling, not facing front like marching tubas. My classmate tried and tried to get a sound out of the instrument, to no avail. The band director got increasingly irritated, until classmate gave one last tremendous blow of air into the mouthpiece, and a red rubber playground ball shot out of the bell.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. What first comes to mind is Explaining or reiterating any anything I’ve read that is complicated or technical (with the exception of musical stuff).I can absorb technical concepts, understand them, just cannot explain it then to others. It’s frustrating when I read a book with some important concept that I want to pass on…

    I discovered on my train trip that I’m not totally unartistic – I think I could draw somewhat if I put my mind to it and took lessons, but I’d never be really good. Same with the fiber arts…


  5. My mom used to sing and play this little song – I can’t find the tune online, but here are the lyrics- you can replace “singing” with the instrument of your choice:

    Can’t come out, can’t play now,
    I’ve got to practice singing
    Teacher spank, he won’t allow;
    He wants to hear me sing all day.

    It would be easy for me
    If I had you to sing to.
    Won’t you come in? He’ll let you in,
    If you agree to sing with me…

    Liked by 1 person

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