Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Vomiting Violinist and Her Wayfaring Sister

As I mentioned yesterday, the girls had their violin recital Sunday.  Long-time readers might recall that poor Blueberry, poor, shy Blueberry had two false starts to her violin lessons, due to intense fear of the teacher -- the same teacher that had been her brother and sister's violin teacher since she was less than a year old.  Her first two attempts at her own lessons, lasting less than two months each, were met with itchy hives up and down her back.  She managed the third attempt by talking incessantly through the entire lesson.  Still, somehow she learns her pieces.

Having just begun anew in September of 2010, this is her second recital.  She prepared for it by vomiting from nerves the entire morning of the recital.  I wish I were joking.  I am not, and, despite what might seem to many like an absolutely intrepid demeanor, I too find myself rather sick to the stomach when I am to perform or speak publicly.

We assured her that she would not have to perform if she didn't want to, for despite her own fears, her teacher is a lovely, kind woman and good friend, who would not mind.  As the first person got up to perform, she whispered in my ear that she would not play that day.  But, when it was her turn, she answered her teacher's call and took her violin on stage.  Despite her refusal to offer an initial bow, she courageously pushed through her fear (which, she later told me, she "threw at Pappa to hold while she played") and managed to get through her entire piece.

Really, I am so proud of her for overcoming her shyness and stage fright and finishing what she came to do!

Rhubarb, who has been playing about five years now, played a piece from the musical Oliver (which I will not post here because it takes forever to download) and a duet with her teacher (the title of which is eluding me and, as I have been nursing one child with strep throat and another with a twisted ankle all day, I have no desire to search for the answer).

She is at an interesting place with the violin.  She has always had a superb sound and been the consummate professional in performances. Once, she played a piece in church and was just about to run to the bathroom to fix a pretty major wardrobe malfunction when the pastor asked her to play an encore.  Always the professional, she got up and performed as requested.  During the piece, her wardrobe malfunction finished itself off.  She missed only a slight beat, but continued on to completion -- happy to run from the stage to fix the matter as soon as she could.  There have been many a time when I wondered how she was going to perform, as she had been struggling in practice, only to find her perfecting the piece for the first time at the recital.

Lately, though, she has been struggling to find her voice in violin.  Her teacher does everything possible to give her the space she needs, but she hasn't quite known what she wants to do.  So, for the past few months, she has been, for lack of a more civilized phrase***, phoning it in.  Basically, she has violin ennui.  I was genuinely worried about this recital.  Again, though, she delighted me by playing it well, even managing to play through the moment where her teacher (who, incidentally, had been playing much more difficult duets flawlessly during the recital and was, by that time, exhausted -- she is at home today unable to move her neck, so sore is her throat) made a slight error.  Her sound, she confided in me later, is not what she normally creates, but she played a piece well that she did not love***** -- I am impressed by her fortitude, both during this recital and along her journey as a violinist.

***The reader might note that my writing today is heavily informed by the barrage of Edwardian literature and influences that have invaded this house of late.  We are a bit obsessed with Manor House and have been reading up extensively on the era, thus my use of the words "civilized" and "fortitude" in such a casual manner.

*****She and her teacher have decided to spend the summer focussing on Irish fiddle music and arrangements of songs from Broadway musicals (most likely arranged as chamber music.  If you know of any such pieces, please send them our way.).

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