How determined are you to play the violin?

All my life I have had a love for music and a desire to play. I was not given the opportunity to learn as a child and by the time I was in college, I was afraid it was too late. It was during my college years that I developed a love for one specific instrument – the violin. I had such a desire to play, that, shortly after I was married, I bought a cheap violin even though I couldn’t play and didn’t think that as an adult I would have the time to learn. It stayed in the case most of the time. I would take it out and attempt to scratch out a tune or two and then put it away.

Years later, I decided to give in to my desire and as a 39 year old, I took my first year of violin lessons. I was thrilled – a life long dream was finally coming true! I practiced hard and made steady progress but then the following summer disaster struck! While using a table saw, the board I was ripping jumped an pulled my hand into the blade cutting off my left index finger and the tip of the thumb. I was afraid that would be the end of my dream. However, while I still had the cast on my hand, I remembered a man I had met years before at a flea market in Rocky Mount, Va. He was a phenomenal mandolin player! When I looked at his left hand, I noticed that he was missing two fingers! I figured that if he was able to do that on the mandolin, I should be able to figure out a way to play violin – after all, I was only missing one finger. In my mind, I devised a method for three fingers. When the cast came off and I got the movement of my hand back, I tried the new system and it worked! That is not to say it hasn’t been difficult, but I have been using this system for the last 20 years and it has allowed me to fulfill a lifelong dream. I now play first violin in a church orchestra as well as second violin in a college string orchestra ( I got rid of the cheap violin and now have a decent, German-made one that is about 100 years old). I am still taking lessons and have played some rather difficult pieces. I consider myself to be a moderate/advanced player.

The point of all of this is that if you are determined enough, you too, can learn to play. Each player has a different set of obstacles to overcome. Your problem may be with a weak or stiff pinky, stiff wrist or bow arm, hand size (too large or too small) or a host of other problems violinists face. Determination and hard work can help you conquer these obstacles and allow you to play to your heart’s desire – whether it be fiddling with a small group, or playing string serenades with a local orchestra. As Mark O’Connor says “The violin is so cool it has two names!” Keep on fiddling!

About Richard Tracy

I have been playing the violin for about 20 years - in spite of missing the index finger of my left hand.
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One Response to How determined are you to play the violin?

  1. Howard says:

    Dear Sir,
    Just had the same fate befall me recently, table saw and all (save for the thumb). Just wanted to say your story is quite encouraging in all of this, and I thank you kindly for sharing it, helps a lot!

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