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.
About the Doodlewash
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 Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Click here!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. 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!