"Classical music is one of the best things that ever happened to mankind. If you get introduced to it in the right way, it becomes your friend for life." Yo-Yo Ma, "60 Minutes," CBS/TV
I vividly remember the day I was discovered as a classical violist. It was a fall morning when the orchestra teachers came into Miss Newell's third-grade classroom. They played a song that is dear to every third-grader's heart - the theme from The Pink Panther.
"You have hands for the viola," Miss Ciano told me. I was glowing because my hands were finally good for something. They told my best friend, Karen, that she, too, was fit to be an accomplished violist. She told her parents she wanted to play, and naturally, I said I did too.
Since I first touched the viola, I haven't been able to put it down. Its rich, deep tone and the stirring classical music I play draw me to it as if I were a piece of steel and my viola, a huge industrial magnet, was hanging over me. Defying the forces of gravity, I am pulled closer each day.
Classical music is truly my best friend. It is the keeper of all the emotions ever expressed by mankind. It is the confidante of every man, woman, and child. A broad spectrum of feelings are expressed in classical music. I discovered the emotional range of classical music when I was eleven and played a Bach cello concerto in a competition. The first movement was joyous, but the second movement was mysterious and full of pain. From that one piece, I learned that music expresses not only feelings, but also abrupt mood changes.
By listening to classical music, I know that someone else shares these feelings. Since I am fortunate enough to be able to play classical music, I am comforted by it when I am upset or frustrated. Built-up tension can be released, especially when I am playing a harsh, loud piece. I can generate the kind of anger and passion the composer wanted, without really trying. It gives me a way to escape my problems temporarily. Music can express my joy, sorrow, anger, or frustration.
I now look back at that fall day in third grade and think how gullible I was for believing that anyone, even music teachers, could tell if hands were perfect for a certain instrument. I'm certain they told me I had "viola hands" not because they were fortune-tellers, but because there was a shortage of violists in our district.
When people ask me why I started to play the viola, I always answer, "Because my best friend did." When it comes down to it, I owe my old best friend credit for introducing me to my new, lifelong best friend. c
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.