Back in school, my first introduction to harmony came by playing my very first instrument, which was a violin. I was in 4th grade at the time and chose the violin mainly because I didn’t want to wait a year before they’d let me play a wind instrument. I’m not sure why this was the case, other than that playing a stringed instrument like this is rather difficult and perhaps they wanted us to get a head start. The downside to this, of course, is that moms had to endure noises that sounded less like music and more like stretching a cat in half. Early sounds on the violin are harsh and loathsome noises. What eventually turns into something akin to music, with a bit more practice, first begins with raking a horse hair bow across strings making horrible squeaks and shrill squawks. When all of us would come together and play in those first years, it was anything but harmonious. We received applause and accolades from teachers and parents after the performance, but I still remember looking out and seeing everyone wincing as though suffering from severe stomach pain.

Bless them for their lies, as I was perfectly willing to see myself as amazing and continued to practice and play throughout high school. Eventually, the squawks turned into something more lovely, and I was finally making music. I played in the high school orchestra and it was a thrill to hear all those sounds from various instruments come together to create the most intricate and beautiful harmonies. I never practiced as much as I should have back then, but still managed. There were other things catching my interest by that time, so I would just steal a few minutes each day to play a bit. Though others around me were far better, each and every day I still improved. I challenged my way to one of the front chairs in my final year, just before our group got to play at Carnegie Hall in New York. It was a triumphant experience to play on that historic stage and I still remember the sound as it echoed and reverberated in scientific precision.

After high school, I put down the violin, and only managed to pick it up a couple more times a year later. It was eventually sold to get some extra money so I could continue to struggle through college. I’m not sure if I would have continued to play had I been one of the richer kids, but I was sad to see it disappear from my life. Sometimes, choices are simply made for us. Once I had enough money to afford another violin, I’d already moved on to other dreams and schemes. Each time I see one, though, I’m taken back to those moments and I can still hear those vibrating harmonies like it was yesterday. Music that will always be trapped in my memories and soul. That’s the wonderful thing about creating music and art. Years later, no matter which way your life chooses to turn, the urge will always be there. Whether it’s longing to paint again, or remembering back to a wonderful time long gone when I was enthralled with musical dreams while happily playing the violin.

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Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Benzimida Orange, Quinacridone Red, Terra Cotta and Cobalt Blue.  Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour BookWant to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Click here!
 #WorldWatercolorGroup - Day 14 - Playing The Violin_IG - Doodlewash

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46 thoughts on “Playing The Violin

  1. what a sweet story – and you know Charlie – you post a painting every day -and sometimes I take them for granted………. sadly…… sorry! But WOWZA – look at your mad skills painting this. Great job!

  2. Charlie, If I didn’t know better I would think you write almost all of your posts about me – and this one is no exception. I played the violin (badly) in the high school orchestra. It was my second choice instrument as my parents couldn’t afford a piano. Unfortunately, I’m a bit tone-deprived and I would sneak my violin to the chair next to me to tune it. It did give me a love of classical music and an affinity for your post.

    1. Aww that’s so awesome!! 😃💕 Yeah, we may totally be related. I played piano as well, but since that wasn’t taught in school, it was just a little side hobby and I never played like I wish I could. Still have one sitting in the other room though… one day… I’ll play it again!

  3. Great story and doodlewash of your violin! Your story reminded me of my own: I began the flute in the fourth grade, too, and played it up through high school. I haven’t really picked it up since, although I have played the piano, guitar, ukulele and recorder. I do love to listen to music and often find myself “playing along” in many pieces.

  4. Your memories pull at heart strings in my life as well. My oldest son played violin also growing up and let me tell you as a parent those learning years are a joy! Along with those times you wished for those ear muffs airplane flagmen wear!! 🙂 My son still has a violin and a viola. But his instrument of choice now is guitar. He plays beautifully but seldom picks up his violin. I wish he would play more, I love the violin. Maybe, just maybe someday you will be blessed to have another violin and play for the pure enjoyment of the sweet sounds of those strings. But for now revel in your wonderful art of painting the instrument you once played!!

    1. That’s such a sweet sentiment! Thanks, Lori! 😃💕 And that’s awesome that your son still plays an instrument. I played guitar for a bit as well… loved that and piano more as seemed like better solo instruments. Maybe one day I’ll give a violin another try!

  5. Aww, that brings back memories, Charlie. I was just like you, different instrument. My school was part of a movement started in Canada to get kids to make more music on cheaper instruments so it was available to everyone. Ukuleles! I loved it and it was the only successful instrument I played (not so good on the recorder, piano, flute etc.) We ended up in a band in 6th grade, you had to try out to be accepted. It was so awesome and we were so good we got to play on local tv and even were the first band ever allowed to play in the huge cathedral in town. Before us no musical instruments were allowed, just voices. We were a choir who also played the ukulele. Such terrific memories. I still miss it and hope to someday buy a very expensive new kind of Ukulele called a flea, Expensive but such fun. Thanks for the memories. I bet you’d still love playing (right after a few weeks practice, lol)

  6. This one brings back memories. My son’s violin teacher asked us to find him a new hobby,
    that he would never be a musician (he was 9), so we bought him a guitar and just let him
    play. When he was a teenager, he took lessons, began writing songs and played bass in
    a college band. Love that painting and the accompanying words (and the memories they

  7. Your painting of the violin is full of emotions, plus followed by the story that touched my heart.
    My son started playing the guitar in music school when he was 5. Later on, he started learning the violin in his regular school, but only for two years. It was a special collaboration between music school and elementary school, and the music instruments were given to kids for education reasons. After two years of learning the violin (he was 8), his music teacher suggested to continue playing only the guitar, because of the different skills required for playing the violin and the guitar (that’s what they told us!). And, I cannot forget all the tears when he had to say good bye to the violin. One of the saddest moments in his life 🙁

  8. What a beautiful painting Charlie. I’m afraid this post brought up rather uncomfortable memories for me – my parents sent me for violin lessons as a child. I was awful and they finally gave up after I dropped my violin down the stone stairs at school and it broke into pieces – oops! 😬

  9. This painting really touches me, Charlie. It’s beautifully rendered but it also reminds me of our sons. The older son played violin and the younger played cello. It was such a pleasure when those early early squeaks turned into music and we so looked forward to listening to our sons in the high school music program. You did a find job of capturing the glow of the violin’s surface.

  10. Playing music speaks to one’s soul, I think, and, amazingly, helps one with math! Who knew? I played clarinet in public and high school, with a bit of alto sax thrown in there. Your violin is fabulous.

  11. I told my dad and grandma I wanted to play violin at 6. I just wanted to do gymnastics before that. I majored in piano for a year and took group violin and years later did private violin and am on my way to becoming a major.

      1. It’s fun when you already know a lot about music. I am looking forward to challenging music. Thanks! 😌 I hope you are having fun with your passions. I was in church choir too age 8-18 and don’t like it anymore cuz it gets in the way of being a professional musician.

          1. Yea, I just had to take a break but am coming back… 🤷🏼‍♀️ At least, this time I know what instrument I wanted to play. It’s true I didn’t practice enough piano nor did I like any of my teachers much concerning the songs they assigned me. I am actually allowed to audition for a scholarship to major in music at a community college now, where it seems you can pay to major as a beginner. I read an article saying you have to get a Masters at a good conservatory or whatever or should to get a spot in an orchestra, which is my goal. I wonder if people who play violin ever get solo sections or anything like that. I guess if you start young, why not? I wish I started when I wanted. I wanted to play at age 6 the first time I noticed. Before, I wanted gymnastics tho for exercise and nothing else, not even ballet. Violin is fun and fun to imagine an orchestra. I tried 2 out, but it was too much work to gloss. They still let anyone in at most of the programs in the area it seems. I’ll have to do it at the community college, which only has one other violin major in a band, where we play the oboe part. So, should be interesting.

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