Boy Violinist Insulters

December 22, 2017, 1:23 PM · I am a boy in 8th grade, and when some people hear me play the violin, or talk about how I play the violin, they say that playing the violin is "gay" and "for girls". This really makes me unconfident and very self-conscious, and embarrassed. What can I do to combat (not literally) these people?

Replies (63)

Edited: December 22, 2017, 1:51 PM · They are stupid, so ignore them. I have never experienced this. (with violin - my child dream was to dance ballet, I cannot tell this often in public ....).

These people are jealous I think, for something with high level of efficiency and professionality. But asi in the other situations, with these idiots, ignore them, it is their stupidity to be such a fools and limited.

P.S. When I see boy playing violin I see the power, and geniality. When I see woman playing violin it is very very attractive to me.

P.P.S. my wife is playing violin too :)

December 22, 2017, 1:58 PM · Ignore them and smile, don’t say a thing. They only aim to upset you and will say anything whether they mean it or not to achieve that goal. Replying only fuels their appetite for more teasing/insulting, and the more you do, the more they’ll go at it. They’ll eventually tire out of it if they see that it isn’t working.
December 22, 2017, 2:12 PM · In your age group, a lot of kids try to boost themselves -- and their own egos -- by shoving someone else down. It seems to me that they are the ones who are "unconfident and very self-conscious."

Don't let it get to you -- it won't last. If you're confident of your abilities and doing well with the instrument, that's what really matters.

December 22, 2017, 3:02 PM · Don't let them make you quit, they're insecure & stupid. Some of the best violinists are straight men. It's just a stereotype and it will go away in a few years.
December 22, 2017, 3:03 PM · Literally every relationship I've been in was a direct result of being able to play the violin well. Wear your skill with confidence and girls will notice, especially once you get a tad bit older (probably expect results starting closer to 10th grade).

Kids your age are just mean, plain and simple. Best way to cope is to focus on refining your craft until your peers are a bit older, at which point it will start benefiting you to be the person who showed strength and maturity rather than the one who wasted all his time worrying about what other people thought of him.

Oh, and boys are generally the meanest when you're accomplishing something while they do nothing with themselves. It's simple jealousy. So if they're making fun of you, it probably means that you're doing well.

Also, learn how to fight. Watch YouTube boxing videos (don't worry about kicks, they're not really necessary in most situations). Ideally you won't have to, but if you start sticking up for yourself verbally, chances are that they will physically challenge you at some point. And if that happens, it's good to feel confident that you could defend yourself.

Edited: December 22, 2017, 3:39 PM · Let their insults be your motivation.

As they are more likely to be a mob than just one single boy, you should try to avoid fighting with them verbally or physically, for as much as you can. Just ignore them. Try not to show any attitude or aggression, but don't show you are afraid of them either.

Do communicate with your teachers and parents if they ever reveal the intention of any physical challenge.

P/S women are amazing - I don't mind being compared to one. Same for that other group. Stay strong and shrug it off mate :))

Edited: December 22, 2017, 4:31 PM · Hang out with people who play music. They will respect you (even if you play the violin!). We even respected the guy who played the bass drum (joke). You shouldn't hang with people who would treat you that way, they are beneath you - just believe it but don't tell them that!

That's what I've done since 9th grade - that was 67 years ago. I played violin in school orchestra and baritone horn (euphonium) in a great 100 piece marching and concert band (those were the days). If you really want to get respect also learn to play the tuba (instead of the baritone) and you can just drop it on those people when the give you guff-but maybe that would be too much effort for a bit of revenge.

Whatever Erik says, don't fight. I haven't had a fight since 7th grade - it can get too dangerous in too many ways as you get older and bigger. Besides boxing practice will make your arms shake so that you can't play the violin - or even write your homework.

December 22, 2017, 4:52 PM · This is a good point in your life to reflect on the fact that there is nothing wrong with being a woman and it isn't a bad thing to be 'gay'. There is even nothing wrong with being a gay woman!

These insults are based on demeaning other people as well as comparing you to something they consider to be inferior (women and homosexuals).

They are only insults if you agree that it's bad to be gay and that there is something wrong with being a girl.

As has already been mentioned, these sort of insults come from a place of insecurity. Don't let their insecurity become your insecurity. The greatest harm that we as a society do to our children is to force them into a 'man box' or 'woman box' with defined and set traits.

Be proud to be compared to girls, it's not an insult at all.

December 22, 2017, 6:01 PM · Harrison, don’t let those ham heads get to you! They are nobodies. True friends are supportive, helpful, and will build your confidence. You may not find many people like that, but when you do, they are a friend for life. I believe that people who do not conform to such pressures generally become much more successful and happier in life.
Playing the violin involves a tremendous amount of intellect, skill, physical ability, and patience. These are rare traits and are becoming rarer every day. These traits will excel you in life in so many ways, so don’t listen to the negativity, stay strong, and stick to it. In the end, you will be glad you did!


And have a Joyous Holiday!!

December 22, 2017, 6:35 PM · Great post Michael
December 22, 2017, 7:37 PM · Call in the regional biker clubs to stand by you. Yes, they actually might do that. My wife and I have ridden our Harleys with groups of thousands of other bikers, miles long, in support of good causes.

It might be pretty darned amusing to see how your detractors react. :-)

December 22, 2017, 7:53 PM · I second you Michael. And if you, Harrison, are looking for an outlet to relieve stress, how about starting swimming in a swimming club? It can be helpful mentally and physically.
December 22, 2017, 9:14 PM · Here's a great post from Michael. Show us some pics if Oprah invites you for a dinner :)
December 22, 2017, 9:18 PM · Guys that stick with it and make it to a conservatory get the reward of an insane female-male ratio.
Especially in the strings. You'll have the last laugh.
Edited: December 22, 2017, 9:36 PM · Not the violin, but my daughter's first flute teacher was a straight man...he said he chose the flute because that's where the girls were. :-)
December 22, 2017, 9:52 PM · The ridicule you're experiencing reaches its peak around 8th grade. It may take a couple of years, but things WILL get better. Continue pursuing your own interests, and try to live in accordance with your own values. Avoid the temptation to change your behavior to "fit in". Soon you will find yourself surrounded by like-minded friends.

And so what if you were gay? So were Tchaikovsky, Leonard Bernstein, and Samuel Barber. And Leonardo Da Vinci. And Alan Turing... These men made profound contributions to humanity by being themselves, but some also suffered at the hands of bigots. Here's hoping that your generation can make the world a more enlightened place!

December 22, 2017, 10:02 PM · Oh, and I met my wife because of the violin. It was a blind date, and we played the Bach double together!
December 22, 2017, 10:43 PM · It is really quite worrying that people still use comparisons to women as an insult. Where are these children learning this type of thing?
December 22, 2017, 10:45 PM · "It is really quite worrying that people still use comparisons to women as an insult. Where are these children learning this type of thing?"

Such language is acceptable in the highest places here, unfortunately.

December 22, 2017, 11:00 PM · Ignore them; they are knuckleheads and don't know any better. But if you have to, defend yourself. But do it on your terms.
December 22, 2017, 11:37 PM · Some children probably learnt to be sexist from their parents. Their comments may or may not be deliberate. But the comments are certainly hurtful if the one who spurted them out did it with the intent of insult.

Sadly some women are the ones still perpetuating it.

It is not uncommon to hear women themselves (especially of non-Western backgrounds) commenting on a guy, "He behaves like a woman", "such a pussy", "Stop being a woman", "Stop ensconcing under my dress", "Be a man".

SMH.

Jason wrote, "And so what if you were gay? So were Tchaikovsky, Leonard Bernstein, and Samuel Barber. And Leonardo Da Vinci. And Alan Turing These men made profound contributions to humanity by being themselves, but some also suffered at the hands of bigots." Those were the ones who were OPENLY gay, or who were outed against their will. The larger population was probably in the closet, since coming out could mean the end of their careers. There have been quite a bit of rumors surrounding other noted scientific/public figures. Isaac Newton, Wright brothers, Ibraham Lincoln, to name a few.

December 23, 2017, 12:02 AM · It may come from women (occasionally) but keep in mind that it's the result of a society where women are seen as weak, inferior, bad at sports, etc. Which men originally created for their benefit.
December 23, 2017, 12:21 AM · Gemma, I agree.
Edited: December 23, 2017, 8:57 PM · Edit: For the benefit of anyone reading this, Roman Reshetkin has deleted several comments, and that is who I was responding to.

Of course I don't think men are evil, and nobody else has taken it that way.

This post is proof that it's ingrained in children, in western countries, by the age of 13. It's subtle but it's there. "We are in ___" doesn't mean anything.

You have responded in the typical defensive way without any evidence of research, education, or an attempt at empathy.

I feel this has gotten too far off the subject of violin, and will not be making further comment.

December 23, 2017, 3:51 AM · Just for what it is worth...I began playing the violin in my mid 30s. Prior to that I competed as a Kickboxer in which I was undefeated in 20 fights and I also got my black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (the grappling and submission part of the fights you watch on TV). I still train to fight as a way to stay in shape though I have not competed in a few years. I would be interested in what your school friends who bully you would say after a training session with this "gay" and "girly" violinist.

Jessy

Edited: December 23, 2017, 5:23 AM · Jessy, I played judo at school, ending up in the school judo team. This was back in the days when the only oriental martial arts known in the UK were ju-jitsu (primarily a mode of self-defence), the very specialist kendo, and judo (the sport version of ju-jitsu). Karate was just starting to arrive in England when I left school, and all the other martial arts over the following years and decades.

Our judo instructor was the school's art teacher when he wasn't on the tatami and was the first and only judo black belt in the UK's West Country for many years. It was noticeable that other boys never messed with members of the judo club! Our instructor liked to tell us that the best defence was a 4-minute mile down the road, but this was never mentioned outside the club!

December 23, 2017, 5:46 AM · The insults may be sexist but the bullying itself is not, my 7th and 9th graders say that bullying by the girls can be more brutal and pervasive than by guys at their school.
December 23, 2017, 6:01 AM · Trevor! A fellow grappler! I love judo. One of the best martial arts out there for sure! I have only done one judo tourny and while I ended up winning I don't really count it. Hahah. I've done quite a fair amount of judo as well. I love the story about the art teacher who was a judo beast. Being involved in art, or music, or any other "feminine" pursuit is not indicative of how one handles themselves life and it can be a source of great strength if you take pride in your passion and revel in your pursuits. There will always be naysayers and people who try to hold you back. Don't let them!
December 23, 2017, 7:13 AM · Many have spoken well on the subject already....
Let me just add that your safety (and the well-being of your instrument) comes first - so keep in mind that bullying sometimes can get worse. Look for support. Tell a trusted person and seek protection.
Since we do know what country you live in, it may be possible that stereotypes against women and gay people are deeply ingrained. In some countries it is still illegal to be homosexual.
Even if society is "formally" allowing diverse sexual preferences, some people will act out of their own homophobic impulses, often out of fear of their own suppressed homosexual preferences.
December 23, 2017, 9:25 AM · Boys like that end up working at Walmart as stockers so ignore them. There is nothing philosophical about those kind of people. They are average and always will be.

I was 15 when I started playing, but I was lucky and never had any problems.

Edited: December 23, 2017, 11:33 AM · Michael Whisman why this association? There are many nice people who havent got as much opportunities as others who need to make a livingp, at Walmart or elpsewhere. There are many nasty rich people who got lucky or even worked for getting rich but are still not nice people. When did wealth and opportunities in life dictate the quality of a person?
Edited: December 23, 2017, 10:13 AM · I think you have to be choosy about whose words can hurt you. If the ones insulting you were the smartest and the most talented, I would feel self-conscious. But if the ones picking on you are the bullies... I think it is actually an honor that they realise you are different from them!
Insults from the stupid are compliments. Compliments from the mob, are actually insults.
You are a violinist. You have magic. They don't. Ignore the muggles.
December 23, 2017, 1:25 PM · Beat them with your bow.

Now serioysly though, why do you mind about such comments? Give 3 years and they will be green of envy

December 23, 2017, 1:28 PM · Like Einstein said, the human stupidity is infinite.
December 23, 2017, 2:59 PM · Harrison,
people always react to extraordinary achievements in a strange way. They want you to be average and do the same what they do. That is „normal“ reaction, although it can be hard sometimes. It is sad that we strive for „mono-cultures“.. and do not value diversity and cooperation.. because we need it more then ever.

So you have to find your way and also protect your niche. It takes some time before the violin sounds good and people like to listen, but don’t give up. First, play for yourself, just enjoy your development and achievement. Get a good, friendly, experienced music teacher. Later, join a local orchestra with likeminded people that respect you, because you share the same passion with them. Performing music together is a very strong connection.

As a violinist, even amateur, you can be proud of playing one of the most difficult instruments, can read an additional „language“ (=music score) and demonstrate discipline with practicing, that has proven positive impacts on the brain and intelligence.

Read biographies of extraordinary people (scientiest, entrepreneurs, composers). Most had a difficult time but did their stuff and where successful.. it only made them stronger! What and where would human mankind be without extraordinary people who climbed the unusual path! What would human mankind be without music and arts (music is everywhere)

The return will come, sooner or later! It is your personal way and not the way the others want you to go.. If you enjoy music than you have to continue and the music will give it back to you and guide your way.

Don’t let your playing judge from somebody who has no experience with music or is at least able to read music and play an instrument. Only accept a judgement from somebody who already went the same way.
There are lots of male violinists, look at all the big and famous orchestras, violin professors, solo violinists that earn millions of dollars with concerts.

I wish you, that you find your way with supporting people and keep enjoying the music! The reward will come for sure! the world needs passionate, giving and caring people! Don’t let your voice be lost! the world needs YOUR music!

Julia

P.S. Print all the comments (of this great forum with great caring people that share your way) on paper and put it in your violin case or somewhere and read it from time to time, to remind you to follow your own way and dream.

December 23, 2017, 3:33 PM · "they say that playing the violin is "gay" and "for girls". This really makes me unconfident and very self-conscious, and embarrassed. What can I do to combat (not literally) these people?"

There is literally nothing to combat. They're wrong, and are expressing their own ignorance, or perhaps saying things just to tease you, which only works when you take it seriously as if it's about you instead of them.

Not very long ago, certainly in some places, all or most violinists used to be men. We're better now when we don't limit activities by gender when they have nothing to do with gender, and have women and men equally playing violin, as they choose.

December 23, 2017, 4:10 PM · The people who are insulting you only advance their own ego, not their skillset. You will continue to enrich your life and your violin skillset, as well as all of the other ways music influences us to be good people.

So, let them go dig their own hole, and you keep playing the violin and improving yourself!

December 23, 2017, 4:22 PM · I got the same grief when I was a kid. Grew up in a blue collar town where violin lessons were rare. Yes, "ignore it" is easy to say but that's what you do. Here's the best part: violin turns out to be a pretty good medium for meeting terrific females! You'll get your revenge eventually. Stay the course.
Edited: December 23, 2017, 4:39 PM · I also wish to object to Will Willy's comment about 'non Western women'. I find it fundementally racist. I personally come from an arab background with a family of very strong women. Never has there been any such sentiment such as "be a man" (a phrase that actually exits indigeneously in the english language and which i only heard uttered by those who grew up with its idioms). I am sure the same applies to many others who from african, asian, etc backgrounds.

Do we really need to combat one or two prejudices (homophobia, sexism) by exhibiting and propogating others (so far, one classsist and the other racist)?

December 23, 2017, 8:59 PM · Their "logic" with the female comments comes from the high pitch & small size of the violin.
December 23, 2017, 11:49 PM · I think it may also come from the curvy hourglass-body shape of the violin :-). Certainly the 'sexiest' instrument in my eyes, whose sound best resembles a beautiful soprano voice, in the world of instruments. I can bell, it can belt, it can cry, it can smile.

But THAT should be a reason why a straight man feels the need to be close to it. I hope the OP would stay strong in his pursuits.

Edited: December 24, 2017, 9:59 AM · To this day I remember that, following a performance in front of my school in about 7th grade, a guy I had really never talked to, a basketball jock named Jesse, came up to me and simply said "fag."

I'll never forget that comment and the almost accusatory tone in which he said it. But I don't remember it because I felt insulted--I was probably more independent and self-assured at that age than most. I didn't feel insulted because I recognized it as nonsensical.

The interesting thing about being a string player is that, of all the orchestral instruments, it takes the highest level of innate aggression. Think about other instruments: you can't shred on a flute, harp, or bassoon. Yes, brass are loud, but not in that aggressive way that violins are. I noticed that there seems to be a correlation between violinists and tennis players. Both require a killer instinct.

American males have their own unique ideas about what constitutes masculinity. Manly men drive pickup trucks. Can you imagine a contractor showing up in a mini van? Guns are another totem of American macho culture, which I think helps explain the resistance to gun control: it's not taking away protection or 2nd amendment rights--it's taking alway someone's masculinity. I took my kids to a Halloween pumpkin patch and saw another dad with a 45 strapped to his leg. Because he feared attack? I doubt it. More likely a show of his manliness.

The association of violin with not-manliness is just simply part of American culture, but it hasn't always been around. I suspect it has more to do with percerceptions and resentments of class than sexuality.

December 24, 2017, 10:58 AM · Harrison, the people insulting you are wrong. They have no idea how many violinists are boys and men. In my middle school orchestra class, I'm one of three boy violinists. Keep strong, continue to play the violin. I like how the suggestion to hang out around other musicians, and tell them your situation. My elementary school had an amazing program, and so I think about half of the boys in my grade played violin at some point. Think about it: how many great violinists are male? Stay strong, and don't take their comments to hard, they are pretty clearly not very well educated on the instrument.
Edited: December 24, 2017, 12:14 PM · OP dude, you think you have it rough? I was not only a violinist all through school, but also a preacher's kid. Imagine what that combination was like! LOL

At one summer camp, I was labeled "the brain", and the label wasn't intended to be in any way complementary!

There's an axiom: "Be nice to the nerds, because you'll probably be employed by one someday."

Perhaps that will give you enough perspective and hope to get you through this temporary crisis. Yes, it is temporary.

Edited: December 24, 2017, 12:25 PM · Why the linkage between violin and female strange? Don’t think so, the shape of this instrument, to tell the truth, right similar to the body of woman, second, though many violinists are male, compared with actors like Stallion, they are a little bit femalish and less masculine, for example quite gentle, soft, slim, tall but not strong enough, with few facial hair etc, though there are some exceptions but not common (often, those exceptions have excellent techniques compared with former peers).
Value and judgement depends on individual, once rooted hardly remodified, just like many people tend to consider violin is a child instrument, not adult one, this is nearly the same thing.
December 24, 2017, 7:19 PM · Scott that was a great post. Spot on.
December 24, 2017, 8:44 PM · They are probably just jealous violists.
December 24, 2017, 9:21 PM · Scott: 'There seems to be a correlation between violinists and tennis players. Both require a killer instinct.'

Who says violins are just for girls now? :v)

December 24, 2017, 9:26 PM · How is a killer instinct a male thing?
Edited: December 24, 2017, 10:17 PM · I recently (months ago) discovered that stereotype, "violin is for girls". It really caught my attention since I've been a "freak" of the violin these last years, reading threads, understanding music jokes, of course living around musicians, etc... and I never heard that stereotype.

How is playing the violin a girl thing?

I understand the stereotype for example of ballet is for girls, it makes sense for an 8th grader (don't go crazy on me, I understand it, not share or agree). But playing the violin a girly thing?

I've also never faced someone in school or high school that said playing violin was gay.

In school of course there were bullies in my class, but actually playing an instrument was indeed considered something cool. There were three guitarist, an oboist, a clarinetist and a flautist. I actually played the recorder, for unknown reasons, way better than most of my classmates, and I only received positive experiences, none of them bullies would say that I was gay for playing the recorder that well, indeed once one of the "cool guys" asked me if I could play the Star Wars theme, 8-9th grade.

December 24, 2017, 10:45 PM · It's a joke, Gemma.
December 24, 2017, 11:00 PM · "How is a killer instinct a male thing?"

I didn't say that. What I meant was that people who play the violin can't (regardless of gender) reassumed to be weak or passive.

December 24, 2017, 11:16 PM · I was replying to Will Willy's comment.

To clarify, I didn't take that seriously or anything, I was just wondering what you meant by that (obviously it comes from somewhere).

December 26, 2017, 8:45 AM · 50 years ago, professional orchestras were mainly male. Now, the gender balance has reversed - and as others have suggested, in a few years you will be surrounded by a majority of female colleagues. What's not to like!
Personally, I've always been very proud that music is possibly the most equal profession / hobby / pastime I know.
Gender, race, background. None of it matters. At least, not in any of the groups I've ever been involved with.
December 26, 2017, 5:34 PM · Yeah, it's a joy to be in a field where gender/race truly isn't taken into consideration (correct me if I'm wrong).
December 27, 2017, 2:35 AM · I think the most equal profession can also added scientists or scholars, compared with scientists, the circle musicians especially violinists are dominated by Jews, Europeans and East Asians, there are not so many other ethnics (e.g. Hindi, Central and Southeastern Asians, Hispanicos, Africans and Middle Easterners like Arab, Turkish and Persian), but this diversity can be found in famous universities and research institutions, I once found many Hindi, Copt Egyptians, Levants and Persians in US and UK with decent income and professions but they are not related to classical music nor violin, maybe they stick to their traditional musical culture (e.g. Makam music) and not very interested in Western one.
December 27, 2017, 3:28 AM · Could that boil down to the proportion of those ethnicities in countries where classical music is a common profession?
December 27, 2017, 10:53 AM · Unfortunately, people will be mean and say horrible things no matter what you do. So you might as well do what you want and to hell with them.
December 27, 2017, 11:46 PM · Hi to all! This discussion raises a very important issues, that classical musicians live in their own world performing for themselves. I mean in which families parents say that it is cool, difficult and thus respectful, to play/study violin? Only in those, where the classical music (or as variant fiddle) is already part of life: recordings, visiting concerts, may be even practicing at school and at home.
But it is a minor part of population.

Actually, the situation described in the topic is very common. This boy is just unlucky to be in a average school, where 99,9% never attend any symphony or chamber concert. Or even piano.

And it is partly musicians fault. Rep, pop, etc come to children, to their brains (via tv, radio, shows), but classical musicians expect that children will come to them to a dark hall in the other city 2h of driving away. No propaganda, no PR, no cool shows on tv, no performance in local schools.

This problem was always there. Remember the "They shall have music"? It starts that the father does not understand what violin is for, and got angry on his son for a wish to play it! It reflects the problem, which is there, and only all together musicians can soften the border between them and rest of the word and make this profession more respectful by non musicians.

For Harrison: you can ask your teacher to allocate some time for violin history and culture. You can prepare a presentation on the most impressive episodes from youtube, say some words about its history, let your friends try, and for Friday movie night suggest a good film about violin player.
Have a nice vacation.

Edited: January 19, 2018, 4:50 AM · I played the piano at your age, and there were other boys who said things like those ones. I sticked with it, and lots of years after that, I started playing the violin (at 25!) and found people who said it was useless.

They're envious, so don't listen to them. If you like it, go ahead, have fun and enjoy it!

January 19, 2018, 6:23 AM · I don't think I agree with the idea that it's the classical musicians's fault K Ch. This is an issue larger than the will and desire of musicians.
January 19, 2018, 7:14 AM · "an issue larger than the will and desire of musicians" - like being an individualist and not a member of a pack?
January 19, 2018, 8:15 AM · Harrison, I took up violin at around your age. I went to a rough school and already had years of being picked on before playing the violin. In my day, bullying was badly addressed - teachers would tell you to 'just ignore them and they will stop', rather than dealing with the situation.
I totally embraced the violin as an act of rebellion - rebellion against the conformity, the banality, the culture of aggression, being part of the crowd/gang and so on. I had nothing to lose which was creatively very freeing. I could, in a real sense, say it saved me.
I have a very strong memory of a very violent character who was a year older than me but had beaten me up frequently over a long period of time. Now he was about 16 and, in the UK, it was his last legal year at school. He would leave his classroom and wander around harassing people, but back in 80's England the policy was to 'ignore him' (rather than call the police or something) and soon he would gone anyway (maybe teachers were too afraid to deal with violent characters?). So, one day I'm rehearsing for the small pit band for the school musical and this guy appears on the balcony shouting all kinds of abuse at me. The teacher ignores him and says, "Just carry on - ignore him". So I start playing - he had never heard me playing - and I remember as my violin rang out over his voice he went completely silent, kind of listened for a while and then turned away and left never to be seen by me again. I have no idea what was going on in his mind but I remember feeling very powerful. I liked to think that suddenly he realized he was a drop out standing there and all these years of putting me down were suddenly thrown into focus. Whatever it was, unlike him, I felt proud of my skill at that moment - that I was creating something of beauty, not destruction. It was my act of rebellion!
Never forget that your playing has power and if people hear you play well and they insult you then they look the fool.


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