I think I was about 9-years-old when I decided that I wanted to learn the violin. I’m not quite sure why I wanted to play such a difficult instrument. I’ve never been what you would class as musical, and musical instruments seem somehow alien to me. I once tried to play the clarinet that my brother had, an succeeded in sounding like a geriatric asthmatic and making my ears pop!
Undaunted, however, and filled with the precociousness of youth, I toddled off to the school music teacher and asked to play the violin. She was delighted, although I’m sure such delight was short lived after I started to try and play. She taught me how to hold the instrument under my chin, how to hold my arm at a right angle, and what the notes were. She gave me simple pieces of music to learn and told me to practice at home, much to the chagrin of my long suffering parents.
No matter what I did or how much I practiced though, it was clear that the violin and I were never going to get along. Even attempting to play something simple, like “Baa Baa Black Sheep” elicited tortured strains, and an appropriate response would be along the lines of Groundskeeper Willie from “The Simpsons” when he declares that Lisa’s bad saxophone playing “sounds like the gopher I caught in me lawnmower”.
In the end, my violin teacher was forced to admit defeat. One day, she called me aside and asked me if I thought I might be happier trying something else, which was code for “Listen, kid. Your violin playing ain’t never gonna flourish, so quit now before I go deaf!”