Wednesday, May 14, 2008

music to my ears

Today was Paul's violin lesson. He has a wonderful teacher from Finland who loves to teach children and has students from age 4 to 74. Helena recently told me that learning to play the violin at my age is like learning a foreign language. Children are naturals when it comes to learning music. I didn't tell her I flunked flutaphone in third grade! I remember cringing all the way out to the portable for group lessons on that fine plastic instrument and am sure I chucked mine in the garbage at the first opportunity. I still don't understand music at all, nor can I read it. But I love to listen.

Paul really likes to play the violin but hates the half hour daily practice. He's had lessons for a year and a half and today took Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to a new level. He and his teacher played a duet and it was heavenly. I guess I am living out my violin dreams through him but he doesn't seem to mind. He even likes to perform at recitals which would make me kind of sick.

I'm not sure how long our violin dream will last but hope I will always have the memory of Paul flinging open our French door and serenading our two dogs as they howl directly outside during each and every practice. He thinks this is quite funny. I guess the dogs don't, as they never miss a practice. We just learned a dog's hearing is 70 times more sensitive than a human's so maybe this is the trouble. Violins are simply awful when they squeak and they squeak a lot when you are learning.

Years ago when I was a college student I attended a chapel where Itzak Perlman was performing. He was in a wheelchair (childhood polio) but he played the most beautiful music I have ever heard. I guess that is when the violin bug bit me. I would have given anything (except my writing) to be able to play like he did. Today he is known as the reigning virtuoso of the violin but back then I was ignorant of all that. I just knew I was hearing something otherworldly. I wonder where he thinks his great gift came from. Being Jewish, I wonder who God is to him. It would be such a tragedy to have the gift but not know the giver.

Paul is no Perlman but if I could post some of Paul's squeaks and our dogs howling I am sure you would get a great laugh.


  1. I know it is hilarious with Paul playing and the dogs howling! I can see that picture clearly, ha! Some form of music whether singing, instruments, or both is great for any child, and children do learn those things much easier than we adults. I loved taking piano lessons as a teenager and should have taken much earlier. So far, neither child of mine has a musical interest/talent other than listening to music! :)

  2. I adore string instruments as well, and the violin produces some of the most dulcet tones the human ear has ever heard. You are a good parent to expose your son to making music his way—you’d probably hear a different opinion if your dogs could talk!

    You are incredibly fortunate to have experienced Perlman live—what a great memory to have. He is unrivaled in his talent and gives voice to musical masterpieces like no one else. I believe Perlman’s genius is expressed precisely from his personal connection to God. I see his gentleness, spiritual strength, and love affair with music whenever he is interviewed or performs on television—that must come from the source we all share.

    Tell Paul to keep enjoying his lessons and performances…I’d love to hear him play sometime!

  3. I'm a music teacher for a small Christian school and I loved reading your description of the violin practices. Also chuckled at the remembrance of flutaphones - fourth through sixth graders learn to play them at my school, only we now call them recorders.

    Your blog is a wonderful inspiration.