Friday, September 30, 2016

The prettiest sounds

Just before Christmas in 2014 Elaine went with me to the music store and we came home with the tiniest violin. She was five. One morning in the spring of that year, she woke up asking for violin lessons.

"Why?" I asked.

Her response was always the same, "They make the prettiest sounds."

I waited to pursue lessons for her because she was FIVE and if this was going to be a passing fad, I didn't want to jump on board, much less throw money at it. But in the fall, as she began kindergarten, she still bugged me about violin lessons.

She turned six a month after her first lesson and her teacher said, "I've never seen a more beautiful bow hand on a child so young. And her ear? She's a natural."

I wasn't going to argue. Melodies have always come quickly and easily to Elaine. She is a deep feeler and deeply expressive. The violin is a perfect fit.

Elaine's love for the violin does not (always) translate to a love for daily practice. I insisted upon it. The money spent on lessons would NOT be wasted! We clashed. Finally I told her that if she still wanted to quit violin lessons at the end of the school year (by now she was nearly done with 1st grade) then I would let her quit. Until then, however, there would be absolutely no discussion.

June arrived. I approached her hoping I had read her correctly those few months back.

"Well Elaine," I began, "school is out. What do you think about violin? Should I tell Ms. Nancy that you want to stop lessons?"

She thought. While she thought, I thought. I had done something pretty risky, leaving it up to her, but I also knew this was necessary. She had to own it. It's so much more rewarding when you own it. Plus, if she chooses it, then she can't be so bitter about me "forcing" her. This would be HER decision and I wanted her to make it herself.

She cocked her head and looked up at me, as if trying to read my thoughts about this whole situation, "Wellllll..." she finally said, "I guess I'll keep going." Ah-HAH! I thought in exuberant victory, Mom wins again!

But really, she's the winner.

She's seven now, and can play all the songs her elementary school band (plus strings) plays. And band is only for 4th and 5th graders.

Tonight she asked to listen to music at bedtime. I picked up my iPad and prepared to pick a kids music station.

"Actually, Mommy," she said, "can you look for something with violins?"

I certainly could.


  1. What a sweetheart. Learning music is like learning a language that only others who play can speak. I'm glad SHE made the decision.

  2. That's awesome! Thanks for sharing this story.

    I assume you're familiar with Lindsey Sterling, and The Piano Guys (though they're mostly cello).