Maestro. Or is the feminine, maestra? Well whatever it is. I am one. Or, rather, I'd like to be one. I currently spend my days conducting a rag-tag orchestra of high school musicians. I adore my small, but hard-working group. Right now, though, I'm sitting in the empty auditorium of my husband's high school listening to a large orchestra made up of the finest young musicians in the Philadelphia metro area. I'm alone here. I had my book, but the music inspired me. I am a musician.
That isn't right.
I AM A VIOLINIST!
Not a singer, not an ametuer actress, not a teacher, not a stage manager.
I AM VIOLINST! HEAR ME BOW!
I remember the first time I played in an orchestra that was good (or so I thought). God, what a feeling! The music flowed through my blood like a powerful drug. I was 14. I was hooked. I miss playing. I am so good at filling the orchestral void by doing things like theater and conducting my kids. It isn't until I sit at concerts or rehearsals like this when I really yearn to play. Yearn so much that the pain in my chest is sometimes unbarable. I feel like I'm starving and the only way to feed myself is to get my violin and play some Berlioz with these kids. I am jealous. It's as simple as that.
When I was in the 7th grade I decided I wanted to play the violin. After spending my youth dancing, playing softball, going to girlscouts, doing gymnastics, my parents were tired and broke and my mother firmly said no. My dad on the other hand, would have lassoed down the moon for me had I asked, so he went out behind my mother's back and rented me a violin. At my first lesson with Frank at Howard Herbert's Music Store I watched in horror as he wacked my bow on the ground repeatedly under the guise of “waking it up”. What had I gotten myself into? But alas, poor Frank went and died on me so I moved over to the prestigous Settlement Music School. After that, I never put the violin down. I was determined to be good. And I was. I got good very very quickly. At my high school I was a star. Hands down the best musician they had seen in decades. I won accolades and participated in the best orchestras in the area. I made it to college and was only one of two violinists there. It was kinda sad. Gone were my large booming orchestral experiences. I haven't played in a large orchestra since.
I talk like I've given it up. I still play. I am still very good. Better now than I was then. There's a maturity and life-experience vibe to my playing that was never there when I was too scared to let my emotions show through my music. Now, however, my public playing is limited to playing Pachebel's Canon for spoiled brides. This can't be! This can't be the rest of my life!! Being a musician, being a violinist, defined me. It made me who I am today. One of the saddest realizations I've had today is that, if I asked my friends what instrument I play, some of them wouldn't even know. None of them have ever heard me play.
Oh dear lord! Now they are playing Elgar's Nimrod. I can barely see the screen through the tears in my eyes. Download that one. It's one of my favs. Have I mentioned how much I love the viola? But I think that's another blog for another time.
I think it might be time for me to take a temporary retirement from theater and pick up my ax again. Find a local orchestra to play in. Re-ignite that fire. Show the world what I'm made of again.