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!