I was 10 when I first held a violin. That was the year you got to be grown-up enough for the elementary school music program to apply to you. Those of us interested crowded into, if I recall corrently, a cafeteria at one of the Intermediate Schools (aka Junior High). We got to hold the instruments. We got to try them.
I wanted a flute. Or so I thought. I couldn't do a damn thing with the flute so I tried a violin. It just felt right. Mom and Dad signed me up.
The first few months my violin and I practiced a lot in the backyard at my mom's behest. We sounded akin to a cat being de-furred by hand. Slowly we got better.
By 7th grade, I could play actual music that sounded like actual music. I'm not talking about "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." I'm talking about real, classical, orchestral arrangements. Our teacher was a push-over of a man with "hippie" hair and a mustache. He loved his job and his students loved him because of it, and frankly because the guy was an incredible push-over.
He was my instructor for two years. We put on four concerts total during the time. Each one performed during the day and then again at night for different audiences. We once played the William Tell Overture (think Lone Ranger theme). A friend of mine, a real prankster, arranged to have a fellow student gallop out on stage with a wooden horse between her knees and a white cowboy hat. Only Mr. B would laugh it off without issuing detention.
One of my favorite songs to play during this stretch was Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. I'm not sure if it was the music itself at first or because it was fun to say over and over again. Reglardless it became a song that seemed to personaify my passion for my hobby. When I think of my violin (my rather dusty, neglected violin I ought to add) I often do so humming the opening bars to this song.
In High School we moved on to a new teacher. He was big and round. He was talented and he loved his craft. He'd play with us sometimes and we'd stop our parts to just sit and watch him do his. He'd let us hook our string insturments up to the amplifier and pretend to be groundbreaking rock violinist.
And he included Eine Kleine Nachtmusik in a concert at least once in my 4 years with him. It cemented the song's place in my mind as the 'ultimate' song to play on my violin.
My son discovered my forgotten stringed friend last year. He pulled the case from my closet one day. I took it out from it's prison and let Logan hold it. He fell in love. However, this poor wooden friend had been dropped and cracked once when I was 13. It had been repaired, thankfully, but still bore the scar. I didn't want it shattered again. I talked my brother into getting Logan a guitar for his birthday instead. Logan uses it to express his musical curosity. So does Megan.
I hope they stick with it. I hope their love for music blossoms. I hope when they are ten years old they beg us to take them to the cafeteria of the Intermediate School one night and let them pick out their instrument. And I hope there is a series of instructors and a series of composers that do their best to make them fall in love.
Happy Birthday Mozart.
Updated to note: I found my CD with "A Little Night Music." I excitedly told the kids about how it was my favorite to play on the violin. They got equally as excited to hear it. The first few bars played and Logan says:
"Hey! That's the Little Einsteins' song!"
"No, It's Mozart," I told him.
"Nope," he said, "Leo."
Thanks Disney. (And I do say that with a tad of sarcasm)