I’m being prodded in the subconscious – go, find a violin and take lessons it says.
Well, there are two big problems with this urge. 1. I haven’t got a violin and 2, I haven’t played for 31 years.
The last time I played the violin was in the first year of my degree, when I was incredibly fortunate and had private lessons from the wonderful Paul Robertson of the Medici String Quartet.
Now, this isn’t because I was a superb player, but more that we all had to learn a stringed instrument and the recorder.
I’d studied the violin as a child and was okay. I’d have made a great baroque player as I found vibrato almost impossible to do and my pitching is very good. After all, it’s what I do.
My technique was woefully bad and poor Paul Robertson had an uphill battle to get me out of first position, but we got on well and I enjoyed the lessons and even managed to get into 3rd position, with a touch of vibrato by the end of the year.
That end of term, the music department performed ‘Wachet Auf’ in Kingston Parish Church and I must say that this concert was a joy. I can’t exactly recall what else we performed, but ‘Wachet Auf’ or ‘Sleepers Wake’ is the most well-known of J S Bach’s Cantatas.
I think the whole music department treasured this concert, not just for the music, but also for the secret mangling of the ‘Wach Auf’ phrase. Yes, we were all guilty.
The highlight was Paul Robertson’s obligato playing and the next term I told him that I never knew the violin could sound so wonderful. I will never forget that moment.
This memory was vividly re-awoken last week when we heard Robert Hardy’s Desert Island Discs choices. His favourite recording was a Beethoven string quartet, with the most divine violin playing and I though, hmm, maybe that was the Medicis and yes, it was.
Playing the violin brings the musician into contact with others far more easily than any other instrument. All orchestras need decent string players.
I studied flute for my degree, but I have no wish to play it again and I sold my flute when we left the UK to go and live in Singapore in 1995. I love the recorder and can still play quite well, considering that my fine motor skills aren’t great. I can play the piano equally badly.
I spent years singing after that, having discovered the right placing for my voice (weirdly, the starting note to warm up the voice is E flat below middle C) thanks to some time spent with my best-ever teacher, Diana Zualski.
By the laws of coincidence, she’s now Dr Diana Zualski and I can’t find her anywhere to make contact, but she has a connection with those violin lessons for…
Paul Robertson is now Professor Paul Robertson, he is a psychologist of some renown now and to my surprise, on one of my sporadic searches for Dr Diana Zualski, there she was – presenting a paper with Paul Robertson.
I’m sure they got on well. I have long wished to thank him for the lessons and the pleasure of hearing him play and as for Dr Diana? WHERE ARE YOU???? I miss you.
Ps. Should I find a violin to rent or borrow and a teacher, I will write about it. My poor husband will suffer if I do. There’s little worse than a beginner violinist…ouch!