I had my first violin lesson at the age of 7. I don’t remember it, but my teacher was Mrs Desley Lappan and I was in Grade 3 at MacGregor Primary School. I would have started with plucking the open strings, and then graduated after a little while to playing with the bow. I had a quarter size instrument, then as I grew, my parents bought the subsequent sizes until, by the time I was in High School and playing in the Queensland Youth Orchestra’s Junior String Ensemble, I was practicing at least half an hour a day, 6 days a week, on my full size violin.
I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but it was something that I was good at, and I liked it for that. By Year 12 I was practicing 2 -3 hours per day, 6 – 7 days a week, and I achieved a “B” in Year 7 AMEB in Violin (I also completed Year 6 AMEB Piano and Year 5 AMEB Musicianship, but that’s another story). I was playing by ear. I was also tutoring younger students from home, and playing (and touring) with the Brisbane Regional Youth Orchestra.
I never completed Year 8 AMEB. I stayed in the Orchestra a few more years, transferring across to Double Bass for my last little while there, and together with some other orchestra people, we travelled out to Goondiwindi once or twice to help tutor the students there. But I never continued with formal lessons, and thus never completed my exams. And I’m okay with that – I got to a good enough standard that if someone sings me a tune, I can play it. And reading music’s easy enough as well.
But today, I mainly play in church, and in lessons with my remaining student. (I had close to a dozen students a few years back, but decided that it wasn’t really what I wanted. Now I just have one, a good friend who’s ten years older than me.) And that’s exactly the way I want it.
For the past two Sundays, the music team that I’m a part of at Church, has been rostered on. We generally do a two-week slot every few months. So two weekends ago I played, and Miss 4, who had come to church with me while Hubby stayed home with the other two, sat on her seat in the front row, playing on my muted iPhone. During the second bracket of songs, the kids went out to the Church’s Easter Holiday program, and Miss 4 went with. But as the Easter program is different to the normal program, Miss 4 got confused and walked herself back down to the church. She then wandered down the middle aisle, up to the stage, saying loudly “I don’t know where to go, Mummy!” She walked up the stairs with her favourite toy, Spot, and over to me. I bent down, and asked her to sit quietly next to me until I finished playing, when I would take her. So sit she did. And play with Spot, “walking” him up and down the microphone stand, making him “talk” as she did so. Very cute, very funny, but not particularly conducive to “leading the congregation in worship”!! Luckily there were only two songs, so once we’d finished I quickly scooped her up and walked her up to the Holiday program.
Last weekend, my team was on again. Again, Miss 4 wanted to come with me to church, and the other two wanted to stay home. Again, I told Miss 4 that, when the kids went out, if she wanted to walk herself up, she could, or she could wait until I’d finished, then I’d take her. She decided on the latter, so stayed in the front row while the other kids left. Unfortunately, these two songs were long ones. And Miss 4 knew that she was missing out, so she decided to try and hurry me up, so I could take her earlier. She knew that going up onto the stage was not what I wanted, but she wanted to be close to me, so she left her seat, walked up the stairs, and then decided to play on the top couple of steps. And, not having Spot to play with this time, decided to hang, and swing from, the handrail conveniently placed there just for her to swing from. Throughout both songs. Again, very cute. Again, very funny. Again, not really what I’d wanted her to do!!! At least she was quiet this time though… and not being near a microphone…
After church, my Music Team leader asked me if I was right for next week. Apparently that first week that we’d done was just a fill in for another team. I said, ‘Sure” – but now I’m wondering what Miss 4 will get up to this weekend…!