Day 5: Learning How To Play The Violin

I have always had a fascination with the violin. Well, any stringed instrument really. They are my favorite. I love everything about them- the look, the sound, the gracefulness of the people playing them. I am lucky that my parents appreciate music and are very talented in the musical area, as I got to grow up watching my dad play the violin and viola (among countless other instruments). I, like my sisters, had to start out learning the piano when I was younger, and I don’t know if it was the instrument, the self-discipline of practicing, or just my lack of interest, but I never picked it up too well, and that, unfortunately, set the stage for my neglect of learning any other instrument very well. However, I have still always been fascinated with the violin. My dad makes it look so easy, effort-less, beautiful. So, I decided I’d have my dad give me a violin lesson and see if I could learn some of the basics of playing the violin.

Post-lesson, one thing I can tell you is that it is not easy. It is not effortless. And, in my case, it certainly is NOT beautiful. He started out showing me how to hold the violin under my chin with no support from my arm, and how to hold the bow properly. These two aspects alone are hard enough that I wonder how it is five year-old children make it through their lessons, let alone want to go back for another one. Once I was able to, not master, but at least accomplish these proper holds of the instrument to some degree of satisfaction, I began to play. And when I say “play”, what I really mean is “make a somewhat screeching noise that slightly resembles nails on a chalkboard”. Ok, so it wasn’t that bad. I actually was able to play an open note (an open note is when you play a string without putting any fingers on it at the top) decently enough. Most of the time.

My dad, his patience kicking in once he realized what not to expect, had me play an open note on all four strings, going from one to another, as he gave me instruction on hand placement and corrected my hold on the bow. After awhile, my arm was starting to burn a little bit from holding it up at the end of the violin, and I was all ready to take a break (I think I just answered my own question from above as to why I didn’t learn any instrument after piano- definitely a lack of self-discipline). But just when I thought I had the hard part down, the actual hard part began. Playing different notes on the strings by putting fingers down. This was so hard! It didn’t help that I hadn’t cut my fingernails down , and it definitely didn’t help that my hands were small. I just could not get all four fingers down while still holding the first one in position and keeping my hand loose. It was a struggle.

So here I was trying to focus on keeping my finger down- no, wait, I was trying to focus on keeping my bow straight- no, I was focusing on the pressure I put on the string with my bow…… AH forget it! There were too many things to focus on, I got lost and ended up not focusing on any of them! What I was really focusing on was my burning left arm and the fact that I was now starting to sweat. Yes, sweat! It’s a good thing I skipped my work-out today, because who knew playing the violin is the real secret to getting your body bikini-ready! Take that, Jillian Michaels!

Finally, my dad started getting me ready for the finale, which couldn’t have come a moment too soon,- playing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ (This was the goal I had set for myself for the lesson). It only took me, oh ya know, about three minutes to play through it. That might not sound like a lot, but when you sing the song to yourself, time it. It should only take you 20 seconds or less. But I slowly got the hang of it, and after another time through it started to actually sound like the song! Or so I thought…  After my lesson I went in to where my mom sat and told her how hard it was and upon my report she asked me, “What happened to playing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’?” Great. You couldn’t even tell what I was playing, it sounded that bad.

But, on a serious note, I’m just going to attribute her not hearing the song to the fact that she was multitasking in the other room:). I think I played marvelously considering it was my first time even holding a violin in play form. However, even if my playing well is up for debate, one thing that I know is true: If I’m going to have to listen to it, I’d rather pay than play.

Tomorrow I’m going to make and use a DIY (Do It Yourself) Hair mask and face mask.

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4 Comments on “Day 5: Learning How To Play The Violin”

  1. Nell Ruch Says:

    On to the accordion? Yes, that is what I myself play beside a little bit of the piano and, at one time, the ukelele!! Sounds to me that you made EXCELLENT progress. Do you have all 181 activities charted out? You so, Sarah!

  2. Yvonne Says:

    If only we had a sound recording to go with the post! I guess it’s all up to our imagination! ;-) Thanks for sharing your life with us in this way!
    Yvonne

    • Sarah Sullivan Says:

      Yvonne, believe me when I say you wouldn’t have wanted a sound recording:) there’s a reason I didn’t record!


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