Posts Tagged ‘viola’

Natalia has been with me for over forty-five years; Jess, over fifty.

Natalia and Jess have been my constant companions. They have accompanied me on journeys around the country and to foreign lands, accruing enough miles to circumnavigate the globe, twice. They’ve been there for every important event of my adult life. When I have needed them, in every instance, they have performed to the best of their ability.

I love them both dearly, and I want nothing for them but the best and fullest that life can offer.

Which is why it’s time for them to go.


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NataliaWhile I’m taking a hiatus from writing (and if you didn’t realize I’m on hiatus, you haven’t been paying attention), I’ve been reconnecting with the musical avocation I put down when I picked up the author’s pen.

David T Stone and company did an excellent job repairing my instruments, including fixing the divots left in my viola when a mic boom fell on us during a performance. Natalia (my viola) looks wonderful, and my violin is once again in playing condition.

I, however, am not. (more…)

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SwordleafThe last time I walked into David T. Stone‘s luthier shop, I didn’t have much money. It was a quarter century ago, and I was going through tough financial times. My wife’s health prevented her from working outside the home, we were suffering through a long string of cheap but unreliable cars, and we were trying simultaneously to pay off our credit card debt and save the down payment on a house, all on a single salary. So, back then, when I brought my viola into David’s shop, I was just there for the bare minimum.

As a semi-professional musician (principal viola for the Bellevue Philharmonic and member of a couple working string quartets), the bare minimum meant two things: cat-gut and horse-hair.

Strings and bows.   (more…)

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A Sixty-Fourth NoteI used to be a musician. In my early years, it was my destiny, my fate, and my doom.

It was my destiny because of my mother. Her father was a music teacher and she herself played piano. She encouraged all her children to enjoy and play music, leading us in “kitchen band” sessions where we accompanied her rendition of “The Girl from Ipanema” with our percussion section made of pots and spoons. I showed an aptitude for it, and thus I graduated from a ladle-struck saucier to a real instrument: a violin.

Fate stepped in when it became clear that my aptitude was actually a talent. In addition to playing in school orchestra (back when every public school had a music program) I also began private lessons. These torture sessions–scales, arpeggios, the dreaded Kreutzer etudes–were held in the back room at a neighborhood music shop. The shop was a dark, cluttered space that smelled of rosin and slide grease. Instruments hung on the walls like hunter’s trophies, and the glass case was filled with paraphernalia of all kinds, from strings to reed cutters to mutes of all sorts. Mr. Meacham, my violin teacher, was a stern, unhappy man with curly grey hair and a prim smile that never reached his eyes. He set a very high bar which I approached but never met; it always seemed to be just out of reach, moving higher each time my skills improved. (more…)

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Obey the Kitty!All Saint’s Day. All Hallows.  All Hallows’ Evening. Hallows Even. Hallowe’en. Halloween.

Not my favorite…well, you can’t really call it a holiday…not my favorite festival. Not even my second favorite. To be honest, my least favorite, which is to say, I really dislike it. A lot.

Growing up, it was just another example of social stratification, another peer-review spotlight that illuminated my inner nerd. You must understand that, back then, at that age, carrying a violin to school on a regular basis did considerable damage to one’s street cred. So did liking to read. Wearing glasses didn’t help. Neither did being sports-deficient. So, being a scrawny, gawky, four-eyed kid who walked to school, a violin in one hand, while reading a book with the other…it pretty much guaranteed that I was going to peg the lower end on the Cool Scale.

Halloween just rubbed it in.

There was only one time where Halloween and I got along. One night. In college.


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