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Song On a 1/8 Violin

Last night I had a real treat. After six months of lessons, I heard six-year-old Maggie play her little violin for the first time.

I babysat the younger siblings while Mommy, Daddy, and Noah (5) went to a barbecue supper and recital held at the home of her teacher. When they came to pick up the little ones, Maggie got out her violin and performed for Pop and Nan.

Then I asked if I could make a video while she played. **

“Of course you can!” she exclaimed. “But we have to find a stage and something pretty to be in the background.”

She decided on the side porch, beside a big pot of orange begonias.

“Okay,” she announced. “I’m ready to start.”

I got the video rolling on my phone and she held out her little instrument.

“This is my violin,” she began. “This is the place where I rest my chin, and on the underneath is a sponge to make it comfortable on my shoulder.” Then she pointed at two rubber bands and giggled. “These aren’t for music. They just hold the sponge in place.”

She held out the bow.

“This is the bow and it’s made out of hair-horse.” She looked at me and frowned. “It’s made out of hair-horse.”

She knew it wasn’t quite right, but she carried on.

“This is how you’re supposed to hold the bow,” she told me, arranging her little fingers just so. “And this is how you hold the violin. See?” she said, turning a little so I could look. “You’re supposed to play with your wrist open, like this.”

“If you’re at lessons, your teacher does this.” She plinked at one of the strings. “She tries to make it sound like her violin before we start the lesson.”

“Alright,” I said. “Are you ready to play now?”

She nodded, tucked her violin under her arm, and made a deep bow. “This song is called Song of the Wind,” she told me.

Then she arranged her feet in a Y, tucked the instrument under her chin, and raised her bow. I was expecting mostly squeaks with a hint of a tune, but do you know what? It was the other way around. I actually know what Song of the Wind sounds like.

After she finished playing she favoured me with another bow, and before I touched the off button, she raced down the porch steps shouting, “Can I see? Can I see? I love looking at videos.”

So do I.

** I would so share the video, but I can’t upload home movies to this blog. Lucky, lucky you.


Phyllis writes words: words for stories, and words for books. Phyllis writes words for blogs too.

8 thoughts on “Song On a 1/8 Violin

  1. I loved reading this Phyllis. I remember when I started playing–I was only a little older than Maggie, and I’m still working to master it even at my age! I always marvel at how someone figured out that you could take a box and a stick, and create this incredible sound. I hope she keeps playing.

    1. I actually thought of you when I was when I was writing this, Jeannine. Maggie’s taken piano lessons for a couple years so she’s not new to music, but I have to admit that this violin thing intrigues me. She really seems to like it, so there’s hope that she’ll continue. Her brother, on the other hand, wants to play bass guitar …

      1. What I really loved is that she couldn’t wait to play for you, and to see the video of her playing. I hope she was happy with it. I was so self-conscious about letting others hear me when I was younger. I used to practice in the basement, or wait until everyone was gone. I don’t think I really enjoyed performing until the last year or so, so to see someone really take to it makes me smile.

      2. What I didn’t mention is that she was nervous and played with her back to the parental audience at the recital, but she did it. Another little girl wasn’t quite so brave.

        I enjoy reading about your music. I have a musical background with lots of instrumental and choral stuff right up to my twenties. One regret is that I let it all slide. It’s not too late to resurrect (a bit late for the voice but not instruments), but writing seems to take up valuable spare time at the moment. In the meantime, I’ll live my music vicariously through you and others!

      3. It’s never too late to resurrect and instrument! I stopped playing violin 2 years after college. I’d play at a wedding or two, but then stopped all together. Twenty years went by. It was only a few years ago I picked the violin back up again, and started studying in earnest only a year ago. It comes back. I find it helps me clear my head, and the then I come back to the writing fresh. Mostly, though, I love creating music with other people. Writing can be very solitary. Music is a creative experience I can share and collaborate on.

      4. Wow! Your story is a great shot in the arm. I’ve always been intrigued by the violin (my musical journey began at age 8, on the accordian, but that’s another story for another day). I used to pick out tunes by ear on my cousin’s violin. She’s a professional pianist, organist, with a pretty good violin thrown in for good measure, I doubt she’d let me near it now.

        I didn’t realize that you had returned to the violin that recently. Maybe I should talk to Maggie’s teacher about lessons.

  2. After years and years and years of enduring interminable piano recitals (almost always on the hottest day of the year – jammed into a crowded church with 200 other sweating Moms and Dads and grandparents) – I was secretly relieved when I attended the youngest child’s Grade 8 recital several years ago, knowing that was probably the last one. I was pretty sure I would never miss those days…until I read your story. Sigh….

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