I took up the violin at age 47 when my daughter was a Suzuki student. That was eight years ago. For a variety of reasons, including that we have aimed our resources at teaching the kid, I haven’t had much instruction — a few lessons here and there over the years coming from a variety of different violinist acquaintances. Mostly I taught myself to play by ear, listening to and trying to unravel the melodies of my favorite jazz musicians. At first I sounded like I was torturing the cat (no offense to Alice, above, who also loves violin). But over time I’ve gained an increasing understanding of my instrument and a growing confidence.
Nevertheless I was completely unprepared for what happened yesterday. I was in the parking lot and a neighbor approached me, asking “are you the person who plays violin?” In a building full of strangers that can be a somewhat scary question: is this going to be her nice opening way of telling me I have to pipe down, that she can hear me clear across the building? But instead she said, “I crack my window open whenever you’re playing so I can hear it better. I think your playing is just beautiful.”
I am still dumbfounded. What a kind thing to say, what an amazing surprise, and am I beginning to be almost a real violinist? After eight years….
Don’t tell yourself you “cannot” do something for reasons “x,” “y” and “z.” When I began the violin, through all that cat-torturing phase, it was hard but somehow I felt an affinity to that violin and knew that playing it was “possible.”
Believe it. Do it.