Playing The Violin

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Day 14 - Playing The Violin_IG - Doodlewash

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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 #WorldWatercolorGroup - Day 14 - Playing The Violin_IG - Doodlewash

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!

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48 Comments
  1. Lisa 7 months ago

    I always wished that I had learned to play something. Bout since I didn’t, I’ll stick to painting.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 7 months ago

      It’s never too late, Lisa! 😃💕 hehe… but painting is a wonderful choice!

  2. Sandra Strait 7 months ago

    The wide range of your creative talents never ceases to amaze me! I missed out on musical talent all together, so I envy your ability to not only paint a beautiful violin but to play one.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 7 months ago

      Aww you’re too sweet! Thanks, Sandra! 😃💕 I’m not sure I could still play if I picked one up today though! hehe

  3. Jodi 7 months ago

    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!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 7 months ago

      Aww thanks, Jodi! 😃💕 hehe…. yeah, it’s not always easy to squeeze in a painting a day, but I’m still managing it! Glad you liked this!!

  4. Catnip Blog 7 months ago

    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.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 7 months ago

      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!

  5. memadtwo 7 months ago

    I think music particularly lodges in our memories. Lovely painting too! (K)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 7 months ago

      Thanks so much, Kerfe! 😃💕 Yeah, music gets into places that other things just can’t. It’s amazing!

  6. Sharon Nolfi 7 months ago

    Incredible story, though bittersweet. Belated congratulations on your performance at Carnegie Hall! Lovely painting of the violin.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 7 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕 I’ve no idea if I was any good, but in that moment, I definitely felt amazing!!

  7. Jansi King 7 months ago

    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.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 7 months ago

      That’s so awesome, Jansi! 😃💕 Yeah, I think once you’ve played music on any instrument, it’s something that never really leaves you.

  8. Lori Franks 7 months ago

    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!!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 7 months ago

      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!

  9. Jennifer McLean 7 months ago

    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)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 7 months ago

      Oh my gosh!! What awesome memories!! Love that you are a Ukulele phenom! That’s so awesome to know, Jennifer! 😃💕

  10. smzang 7 months ago

    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
    recall.)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 7 months ago

      Thanks so much! 😃💕 So happy to know he passed by the harsh critics and followed the music to success!

  11. 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 🙁

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 7 months ago

      Oh my goodness! I’m struck with how sure teachers feel about a student. There’s always a possibility when you have passion. The talent will surely follow!! 😃💕

  12. Beverly Dyer 7 months ago

    I have my grandfathers violin, he called a fiddle. I’d love to learn how to play.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 7 months ago

      Aww you totally should!! 😃💕 I was also in a fiddle group for a time… just means the music changes a bit. SO much fun!!

  13. Laura Hale 7 months ago

    What an emotionally charged doodlewash and story. Thank you for sharing from your heart in both words and art.

  14. Sharon Mann 7 months ago

    Lovely story of memories, Charlie and your painted violin sings!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 7 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sharon!! 😃💕 I’m thrilled you liked this one!

  15. Phil Cooper 7 months ago

    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! 😬

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 7 months ago

      Oh my goodness!! I’m so sorry to hear that, Phil! 😳 But you still grew up to be an artist, so things were meant to be! 💕

      • Phil Cooper 7 months ago

        Aha, yes, I think I was NOT meant to grow up to be a violin player 😆

  16. Pamela Smith 7 months ago

    Well done Charlie…I like the detail.

  17. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 7 months ago

    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.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 7 months ago

      Thanks so much! 😃💕 Yeah, the violin will always hold a special place in my heart. Even if I haven’t played one in years. Such a wonderful way to start into music!

  18. Sandra Gilbert 7 months ago

    Any creative endeavor stays with you even when you no longer do it. That is one of the most amazing things about creativity and something I love being a part of.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 7 months ago

      So true!! 😃💕 That’s why creative endeavors are the best things in the world!

  19. Susan Cuss 7 months ago

    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.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 7 months ago

      Thanks so much, Susan! 😃💕 Yeah, I was weirdly great at math as well, but I never liked it much.

  20. christinaajb 6 months ago

    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.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

      That’s fantastic!! So cool! 😃💕 I think the violin is such a challenging and beautiful instrument. It was a joy to play. Glad to hear you’re still doing it!

      • christinaajb 6 months ago

        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.

        • Author
          Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

          That’s awesome that you’re focused on being a professional musician! What a wonderful thing to do! 😃

          • christinaajb 6 months ago

            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.

          • Author
            Charlie O'Shields 6 months ago

            Best of luck to you! Sounds like you’re on the right path… just keep pursuing your dreams and they’re bond to come true sooner or later!

  21. christinaajb 6 months ago

    Thank you!

  22. […] to play the guitar like they did, this wasn’t an instrument taught in my school so I ended up playing the violin instead. Don’t get wrong, I loved it, but a part of me still longed to strum a guitar and […]

  23. […] So, what did I do? Well, a little bit of everything, of course! You’ll still find urban sketches from me, albeit cropped tighter than the usual fare, when it works with the story I want to tell. But not when I’m dreaming of dessert and can’t get Philippe to make one for me, so I have to paint those from references or the fantasy of dessert in my mind. (Cue the sad violin music!) […]

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