Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Second Chance

I played the violin for 7 years. Between 2nd and 9th grade I fancied myself a fiddler. I enrolled in the public school system in the 5th grade, this was the grade students had the option to join either band or orchestra. Since I had already been playing for 3 years, I was the closest thing to a virtuoso my little 5th grade orchestra had seen. I could play THE SHIT out of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

So, all throughout the 5th and most of 6th grade, I was the top dog. I was the best by default. If you challenged me for first chair, you got your ass handed to you. I could out play you with my eyes closed and one arm tied behind my back. Oh that's right, I could defy the laws of physics and play the violin with one hand!

But this all changed when my orchestra mates began to hold their own and my early exposure to the instrument mattered less and less. Also, I hardly ever practiced. There were 2 girls in particular that rivaled me for 1st chair 1st Violin. We were constantly duking it out for the coveted spot and each of us probably spent an equal time on top over the course of our junior high orchestra career.

Then came High School and the game changed yet again. We were now playing with a large group and a lot of talented upperclassmen. That year the Drama department produced "Fiddler on the Roof" because one of the seniors was good enough to BE the fiddler (BTW - I was cast as Grandma Tzietle and totally rocked it). When I was told that I had made first chair (!!!) SECOND violin (???) I was torn. Seconds play the harmony, not the melody - so it's not nearly as fun. Still, first chair wasn't something to shake a stick at. But, for all intent and purposes - the second violin part is usually easier than the first... I felt like a failure.

So I quit at the end of the year. Or rather, I didn't join back up my sophomore year. Tomato Tahmahto. I thought I was too cool for Orchestra. There were several reasons why I didn't continue. All of them, I felt at the time, were REALLY GOOD ones, but none of them matter now. Or maybe they never did????

The holidays always tug at my heart strings. It's all the music. Last November I was going through my annual nostalgic period for playing... I even missed holding the darn thing, not just playing... when I met a friend of a friend, Ingrid - a real cool German chick with a PhD in music studies - who encouraged me to pick it back up again.

The week after Thanksgiving I found myself at KC Strings renting a violin and buying "Christmas Extraordinaire for Beginners," a book full of the classic Christmas Chorals. I kept telling myself that it would "be just like riding a bike." I'd immediately be able to read the music, know where my fingers were suppose to land and I'd pick up just where I left off 12 years ago.

Uh, let me just put it this way.... Twinkle Twinkle Little Star totally made me its bitch. While that might be exaggerating it a bit, needless to say - it wasn't pretty but I stuck with it. A few weeks later I had come close to "mastering" all the Christmas Chorals. A month after that I had moved on to beginner concertos. Who knew that practice made perfect?!?!??!

Ingrid had mentioned that there were probably community orchestras in the area that I could join if I ever wanted to play again. Sure enough I goggled "Kansas City Community Orchestra" and found the Kansas City Kansas Community Orchestra. I sent an inquiry email and was told just to show up and the director would put me somewhere. I just hoped that that "somewhere" wasn't the hallway.

My first rehearsal was the groups first week back after nearly a month off, so the room was hectic and loud. There were a handful of new people, the director was pointing them to where they should sit. He finally gets to me, sees my violin case and says "Our second violin section really needs more. Would you like to play second violin?"

"I would LOVE to play second violin!!!"

And sure enough, I do!

ps - we have a concert a week from TONIGHT (Oct. 7th). Let me know if you want to attend!

1 comment:

Bill Wabbit said...

That is a really awesome story, I wish I had your staying power to try old stuff again..