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The Fiddler

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I looked at all the marvelous lights, crimson red, soothing creme, and a deep green. Christmas lights, of course. But on the stage is what changed my life and how I would look at music, forever. Singing a sweet melodic Christmas song, a violin stood out in the arms of a young, but wise looking, woman. The violin glistening beautifully with the Christmas lights hitting it and reflecting a beautiful glow as the violinist swayed to the music. I was captured in that moment like a snapshot and can’t forget the first time I encountered with my “future partner”, you could say. I was in 4th grade, a young, but determined, 8 year old, buck toothed girl, that had heard her inspiration. I thought to myself, “That’s what I want to do,” I erased that thought out of my mind and thought instead, “You’ll never do that! You know how much those cost and how much practice, I can never accomplish that!” My family had not been going through the best of times at the moment and wouldn’t be able to afford such a thing. “It’s just for show, anyway,” And I didn’t think of the notes that reached into my heart ever again, until 2 years passed by as swift as the wind.
6th grade, I’d grown a lot more, and I was in an unfamiliar school that year, but to my surprise at the beginning of that dawn breaking day in class, my youthful and so-overly-excited-for-the-new-year-she-just-can’t-take-it teacher mentioned that for the first time at their little school they will finally be expanding their music classes. So, instead of only the organized rows of kids in choir, we would also have a band and orchestra class. She implied that not only we should sign up for whatever, that they needed anyone interested at all at playing a musical instrument! Well, my short haired blonde, teacher, with a yellow and red polka dotted t-shirt, that made me think she looked like she had a bad case of the chicken pox, said that it would really expand their horizon in the music field, but I just think she wanted the extra 30 minutes off she got while we’re all gone. As I began the journey with my violin, although I had never really owned one for myself, years passed, about 4 and each year my orchestra teachers always squeezed this bit of information into our lessons, “it’ll take time and lots of it!” But as my orchestra teachers came and go, I realized that this was true. Real soon, I began to raise my way up the levels with a beaten up, raggedy, old violin each year, until one year my instructor for orchestra recommended for each and every one of us to have a private instructor. I had never really thought or wanted a private violin teacher. Just thinking of long hours, the muscles in my arm cramped from holding my violin high up to my chin. I retaliated at the thought of this and made it a secret that I had no instructor.
My plan had not worked as well as I thought, though. Because with long term devotion to an object, comes long term devoted friends. It soon spilled to my friends, though, that I was teacher less, yet I was doing remarkably…horrible, at the violin and had wanted to quit. My friends pushed me to get a teacher, and I confronted my parents on getting one, so I could improve my skill. To my surprise, they urged me to be willing to take on a private instructor. Debbie Slothower, or as I would call her, Sis. Slothower, my sister in heaven. I always tried to remember that as she slammed each of my fingers on the finger board of the violin and told me to keep them planted there! Sis Slothower, a good friend to my family, a close neighbor / ward member, was an amazing violinist. She was the perfect image of a violin teacher: Dirty blonde cut short hair, glasses on her nose ready to slip off, like a penguin sliding down an iceberg. Brilliant green eyes that matched the deep green sweater she wore, “feet planted on the ground” like a good violinist, she would say. “Shoulders straight and smile.” I always forget that last part, I forget that my personality outside of it, I love to smile, as big as that sun coming behind the mountains.
“I quit,” I tell my parents, I’m now in 9th grade, brace face girl, getting taller by the month. “I quit violin.” Was I serious? No. I quit lessons, I couldn’t handle the constant pressure inside of me that boiled up each time I made a mistake and how hard it would be to fix it. My fingers caused the frustration…my fingers, very loose ligament, flexible, that could bend and twist in different ways, it just made it hard to play all the right notes. I left it all together, but I couldn’t of course. After only 5 months, I guess you could say I missed the cramping in my arms, or the lives I’ve touched with my music. My parents inspired me to keep going with the violin by finally getting my own violin. Beautiful dark wood with bouncy strings, and a bow as light as a feather, and most importantly, a pretty singing voice. It was hard to get back on it after never practicing. But it’s worth hearing that sound I always marveled at when I went each year to the BYU Christmas Around the World, that’s where it started and hopefully, where I’ll end up! I know that when life gets hard and things seem impossible you can get back on it, if you really do care for it.





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