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For almost seven years I have been playing the violin. For two of it, I have had the crummiest worst violin on Earth. Because I have eight siblings and money is tight, I have paid for my violin lessons almost the entire time I have been playing, but my parents always paid for my violin rental. I never dreamed of owning my very own violin because I knew they were too expensive for anyone in my family to afford. But when my dad decided violin rental was getting too expensive for the violin I needed, he bought me a violin. I’m not sure how much exactly the violin cost, but it was absolutely horrible. It never tuned correctly and the pegs were stuck in place. The thing was difficult and stubborn and had its own attitude. It hated me. If I thought I finally had my own violin, I could have not been more wrong.
Two years past as my love for the violin started to slowly go downhill. I was frustrated and behind in my Suzuki books. I watched helplessly as all my teacher’s other students got better and better and I didn’t. Sometimes I told my parents how much I needed a better violin and they would tell me time and time again that there was no way they could fork out thousands of dollars to me. I had had it, but I kept on forcing myself to go on. Even when I got $400 in dept with my teacher and she reminded me how much I needed a new violin. I was only fifteen and had only a babysitting job that barely paid enough for my lessons and sometimes left me in the dust when I didn’t baby-sit at all for a while. My mom came to the rescue and bailed me out of my dept, and I’m sure it made a big blow in her budget. I love her and I am so thankful for what she did. She helped me plow on because I knew something had to change and something would. I loved violin and there was no way I was going to give it up. Something had to happen.
I remember two summers ago, the one before this past, I went swimming a lot in my town at a water park called Splash Country. Sometimes I took a friend, but sometimes I liked to go by myself. I would sit in the shallow water or float around the lazy river and just think. I remember one time I went I thought the entire time about my violin situation. I still had no idea what to do. I sat in that shallow and thought. I needed a real job.
Time went by until Christmas. Still I never gave up on my violin. My teacher was encouraging and told me I was better then that crummy violin made me sound. I knew deep in that she was right. I started to talk about jobs. I was turning sixteen on Christmas and would be well old enough for one. My mom kept telling me no, my education was more important and there was no way she would be driving me to and from work almost every day. She already had lots of other kids to be carting around and I honestly understood. But I had to have a job because I knew that my violin was almost just as important.
For Christmas that year, surprise, surprise, I got a pass to the local athletic center for the aquatics department. I started to go swimming with my mom almost five days a week. I worked really hard at it and I actually started to fall in love with the sport. I eventually got swim lessons because I knew I needed help. When my swim instructor and I were talking about how I wanted a job, she suggested something to me that changed my entire life.
That very summer, I sat in a lifeguard stand and saw the very same spot I had sat in almost exactly a year before as I had thought about my violin situation. I had applied and been hired within a few days. I had to go through an extensive and intense training process that I had almost failed multiple times, but I worked really hard and in three days I grew more confidence than I ever knew I had. My mom drove me to work all the time just like she had with all of my older siblings. She finally caved in and told me it was my turn to grow up. I really think she was shocked that I had even passed the training because I have never been an athletic person. When I got my first paycheck, I spent the entire thing, but it was only fourty dollars. When I got my second, I went to the bank and I opened a savings account. Over the summer as I grew and learned from my new job, I fell in love with my new sport, swimming, and I kept on plowing ahead with my violin. But I saved almost every dollar from my paychecks. My mom paid for my violin lessons just so I could save my money. Sometimes my paychecks were $200 but sometimes they were $500. I saved them over the course of three months and at the very end of the summer, I was ready to buy my dream violin.
I withdrew almost all the money in pure cash and drove right to the violin shop. That day I played a whole bunch of different violins and eventually chose four. I took them all in a big case. After weeks of playing them and going back for more, everyone, all my family and friends, chose one they all thought I should get. But there was no way I was caving in because I didn’t like it at all. It was my money, my summer, my violin, my decision.
I came home with two more violins. It was getting down to the wire. I needed to decide. I picked up a violin out of the case and put it to my shoulder. Carefully and almost perfectly, I started to play the Ashoken Farewell. It was a beautiful but simple piece. Suddenly, every part of me lit up and it was like a sleeping beast in me had suddenly been woken. It was perfect. The way it sounded, the way it felt, the way it was just so easy for me to bring such a beautiful tone out of it. I had finally found the one. In the end, I got a lot of discount because my family had been renting from that shop for so long, but my whole new violin and bow and case and all came to a little over $2,000. I paid for it in cash myself. It still wasn’t a super fancy violin, but to me it was and still is a Strata Arias.
When the other lifeguards from work heard about what I had spent my summer savings on, they were confused. They asked me why I didn’t save my money for a nice laptop or a car or even college. I told them because a violin was so much more important to me, so much more beautiful. Over time and with care, a violin grows more and more in value; cars and electronics don’t do that. I didn’t want a car or a laptop or even a little money towards college. I just wanted a violin that was my best friend. They will probably never understand except for one who also plays the violin.
My violin playing has arisen again and I practice so much more than I used to with my old crummy violin. I am catching up with my Suzuki books and I love to play once again. I love the violin and have had a lot of motivation from it, and from my all time favorite violinist, Lindsey Sterling. I love playing the violin and I have found that I really can sound beautiful when I play.
I love my new instrument because I paid for it myself; I gave my whole summer and will to it. It is priceless.
(PS, I named my new violin Lindsey)