August 2009. I was standing outside a theater in downtown Billings, Montana. I was in the middle of having my senior pictures taken.
This photo was the photographer’s idea. She liked how the metal of the ticket booth looked against my dress and violin. I was just happy to include such a big part of my life with my senior pictures.
We got the pictures back and, hilariously, I noticed the very faint sock tan I had. I guess that’s what I get for spending almost everyday over the summer on the tennis court.
I still love this picture so much. I really love just how it turned out. I also really loved those shoes.
But anyway. Let’s talk about my violin. I’ve talked about my many airport experiences with my violin, but how did I come to play the violin?
Okay, okay. I hear you. I’ll explain.
In about May or June this year, it will be 15 years since I first told my parents I wanted to pick up the violin. I don’t remember exactly how the conversation started, but I do know that I was playing with my two best friends in Arizona, Ebe and Tara. We were talking about taking up an instrument. We decided we would take up the violin, all three of us. At the end of the day, we all went home, and I was the only one who followed through with it. I was 10, which I learned very soon was very late to be first picking up the violin. At least, it was for kids who learned the Suzuki method, like I did.
Anyway, that’s a little ahead of the story. I told my parents, and I don’t know the discussion that happened between the two of them, but I do know that that weekend, or maybe the next weekend, we were in Flagstaff, at the music store. My mom and I walked in, and my mom confidently told the salesperson that I wanted to start playing the violin and I needed a left handed violin. The guy looked at her and said there was no such thing. I was fitted with a rental full size violin. We went on our way, with all the accessories, the repertoire I needed, and a very quick lesson on how to care for my new violin. Pretty soon after that, I had a teacher. I don’t remember the exact details, but then again, I was only 10.
I remember loving my first teacher. She was fun, wanted me to progress quickly, and she was so kind. I don’t remember how long she was my teacher, but it wasn’t that long. Her husband got a different job and they had to move. I was so sad. Our final lesson was held at my house, right before dinner that we had with them. If you open the middle of my Suzuki book 1, it still smells like her house. This meant I had to get a new teacher. My mom found a teacher that lived in Flagstaff, but taught at the Tuba City junior high. I walked over to the school for my first lesson and sat through an hour of my new teacher telling me I had learned everything wrong, I had to start over from scratch, I knew nothing. I got home from that lesson and cried and cried. My mom went to my next lesson with me, and described that I was incredibly upset about what had happened the week before. I stayed with that teacher for probably a year. Sometimes my lessons were in Tuba City, sometimes they were in Flagstaff.
I progressed. Very, very slowly. Usually students are in book 1 for about a year. Tops. I was on one song. For a year. Again, my mom had to go to a lesson and tell my teacher to move me on. I was ready to learn more.
Shortly after that, we moved to Montana. I had been playing for about a year or so. When we moved, my parents decided to ditch the rental and buy me my own violin. I remember very clearly the day it came, in the box it came in. I was so excited. It was SO beautiful. And it was all mine.
We moved to Montana, and again, I got a new teacher. I won’t lie, I was nervous. My last new teacher experience was not a good one. Luckily, I hit the teacher jackpot. Laura and I were very well matched. During my first lesson, she did tell me some things I was doing wrong, but they were mostly posture things. My previous teacher had been much shorter than I was, and as such, I had learned some bad posture so she could correct hand position. But Laura very patiently corrected those problems, all while moving me very quickly to the level I should have been at as a 12 year old. I was with Laura for 6 or so years. We worked so well together and I learned so much from her, things I still use today while I am practicing. Laura also taught me a respect and a passion for the violin that I didn’t know before. I had had an inkling of such before, but it really grew as I learned the instrument more. I was sad when I went to college, and wasn’t considered one of her students anymore.
One of the biggest things I am grateful to my violin for is consistency. As different and uncertain as my life can become, I know I can always fall back to what I truly know by just taking an hour out of my day to practice, to let off some frustration. I can always pick up my violin and feel so much better. My violin has not only become a hobby, but it has become an escape from my life. It has become something I truly love with all my heart; something with which I have learned so much about myself and about life (as cheesy as that sounds, I mean it).
As I stood in front of that theater on that August day, I was more than happy to show off what was truly one of my favorite things and one of my favorite things about myself. I was grateful it could be just as much a part of my senior pictures as I was.