The returning violinist

As a child the violin was a distraction, a chore and a continual trial and was eventually put aside.
Rediscovered 40 years later, my violin has become a love and a need - and the route to a music passion.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Chapter I. Beginnings - or rather New beginnings....

I've been playing the violin for over 50 years. Well, to be accurate I started when I was 5 and reached the, at least with hind vision, venerated position of concertmaster [at that time English schools typically had full-sized classical orchestras] and even played a concerto. Then boredom set in and I gave it up at age 14.

However, just over 2 years ago a friend took up the flute again and that inspired me to visit my violins in the basement. Yes, for some unimaginable reason I still had all of them. Two full sized german workshop ones. The better of the two I bought but never played about 20 years ago (I have no idea why – maybe because the guy only wanted $400 for it) and the other my father bought from a retired Leicester (England) orchestra player when I was about 12; Then there was the 3/4 I played from about age 8 and even the tiny half sized one I started on - badly scarred but still intact. I suppose some things in life we carry with us simply because we can not think of a good reason to lay them down. Thus, despite moving across the atlantic (as well as several times this side thereafter) and the loss of virtually all my other possessions – the violins survived.

The nice german violin was in good shape and I could remember how to set it up. When I tried to play it, my hold and bow grip actually felt pretty good – but I could not find the notes. Everything was out of tune. So, being typically ‘mature’ - I blamed the violin. I felt the complex overtones were too much for me to sort through and that served as a rationale for a visit to the luthiers. Fortunately, there is a good one very close to where I live and a few trips there convinced me that the way to get back to play the violin was to make a clean start with a different instrument. I probably tried every violin in the shop – eventually it came down to two in my price range (read – a couple of thousand beyond of course) – two workshop violins, one from Italy and the other France, both of which had a cleaner note than my German one. I played and played - I’m surprised they had any customers considering the noise I must have been making but maybe that’s why they encouraged me to take them home :D The Italian one was easier to play and always made a sweet sound. However, I bought the French – a Dieudonne with a curious past (another story) and, as it turns out, some mystery. The reason was that although it was harder to get a note I felt the effort generated a range of sounds that could not be matched on the Italian instrument. The german instrument was traded in and ‘Dudie’ was suitably adopted, along with authentication papers and a new case.


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  2. I have been enjoying all of your comments on Violinist dot com. I am an 68 year old lady returning to violin and your journey inspires me. Your sense of humor shines throughout. Going backwards through the site, I am now at 2010 reading about the thumb position. The thread is very funny and the advice amazing. Thanks for the inspiration and insightful questions and comments.