The Well Aging Fiddler: The Masked Fiddler Strikes (for fifteen minutes a time).

May 5, 2020, 5:21 PM · This really happened. Two days ago, I walked into a bank to make a withdrawal and they thanked me for wearing a mask.

This world ain’t the same.

masked fiddler

I’ve been enjoying the free concerts online, the Zoom performances, the YouTube concerts, and everything else I can soak up while I sit in my living room wondering if anything good is on Netflix. We’ve gone through all the Law & Order SVU series, Law & Order UK, and even the Tiger King. Hence, these concerts are a life saver.

So, I’ve decided to give back with what I can contribute to the arts during this pandemic. On May 15th I’ll hit the three-year mark in taking violin lessons. As you may know, I started taking lessons two weeks before my 68th birthday, and now as I approach 71, I’m going strong with this entire venture.

As all of us know, with the Covid-19 pandemic, performances and recitals have been canceled unless they are on Zoom or some other form of media where we can remain both figuratively together and literally apart. I look forward to the recitals and soirees my teacher, Mirabai Peart, organizes each autumn and spring. They’re a lot of fun. Being the outlier in the group – the tallest by several inches, and the oldest by several decades – I have a lot of fun with the kids. Clearly, the teenagers are far better than me, but so what? It’s not a competition. It’s a celebration. Also, the treats the parents bring are fantastic.

However, with all of that on hold until who-knows-when, I’ve decided to take things into my own hands.

I’ve started playing short solo shows in the parks around Portland, Oregon. I call them CoronaConcerts. I take my violin, go to a picnic table or an open dock, tune up and play for about fifteen minutes. I do wear a mask, and call myself the Masked Fiddler.

The first time I did this I spent about half an hour wandering around a park trying to convince myself that I should just go home and practice. I kept telling myself, “If I play it will disturb their quiet afternoon. What if I hit some wrong notes? What if I mess up? What if? What if? What if?”

Then I got tired of listening to myself. I put my violin case on a picnic table, got out the bow and violin, tuned up, and played. It was great.

Regardless of rules that people should stay home, it was a stunning afternoon in the low 70’s, and people were everywhere, playing catch, lounging on blankets, walking, jogging, and so forth. Nobody was less than 20 feet from each other - more or less. It was a well self-regulated crowd. People smiled. We talked between songs. We laughed. We shared the afternoon and made a human connection.

I’ve done five of these short-but-sweet concerts, and I’m going to do this as often as possible. It’s just plain fun.

I recommend it to you as well. Get out of the house – with a mask – and play. Why not? It’s not like there is a pressing concert schedule. Have some fun.


May 6, 2020 at 08:58 PM · Michael,

Thank you for sharing. I've been thinking about taking my afternoon playing outdoors on my front porch. Your article gives me some encouragement to get out there. Unfortunately, NJ weather isn't being cooperative lately. However, the day is coming.

I loved your opening line about the bank. I reminded my of what a good friend told me he said to the guy at the gas station (in NJ it is illegal to pump your own gasoline) He said: "The last time I went to a gas station wearing a mask I came home with $832 in cash." He told me that the pump-jockey wasn't laughing - maybe smiling but he, too, was masked.

May 6, 2020 at 09:27 PM · This is a lovely idea, unfortunately in Australia we wouldn’t be allowed to do this and I believe in the UK a family who are a quartet was asked to go back into their house because their music was encouraging crowds.

Keep up the good work and stay safe.


May 7, 2020 at 06:08 AM · As from ~ Original 1 of 7 pupil's of Jascha Heifetz & later in London, Nathan Milstein

Dear Michael!

I loved your adorable article and the charm in which you wrote it being a bit self deprecating but

delightfully honest & forthright about your New Venture calling yourself 'The Masked Violinist'

which I find utterly enchanting and especially for children!!!

If Only - operative words, we so wish were Here with proven medications to recover rapidly and from this Evil "Hidden Enemy" you might have a 'new' Corona Concert playing in the park hit!!!!

The bitter truth, dear soul, is we are still unknowing about this Monster Virus, hidden from our

most foremost Infetious Disease Experts in the U.S., UK, France & parts in Europe, by falsely

'Proud' or 'Pride goes Before the Fall' people in authority who hushed it up. So my feeling and

from one's Gut, is to go Easy even in the coming sunshine because Shock! In the last 48 hours

scientists at several major U.S. Hospital's have discovered an even more acute illness related

to the vicious Covid-19 Virus, which s now striking our little one's causing real DAMGE to their

Blood vessels & kidney's with more grueling medical accounts to come ~

To keep your Delight Alive, can you make a 'home-made' video speaking a bit & then picking

up the fiddle & bow, playing your Favourite pieces with No Apologies excepting your opening

Introduction of your "commemorating a Third Year Anniversary of starting violin lessons and hope you folks can enjoy my "Masked Fiddler" Presentation from my Front Porch, for now until

the Coronavirus still muddy Coast is Truly Clear and Safe!!"

Think of all the "Warriors" aka, Nurses & Doctor's, Caretakers & All on the Front Lines then you

won't feel badly about waiting a little longer to ease their overwhelmed burdens , okay Michael!

Write to me about your upcoming homemade Video and I'll love seeing it!!!

Please Stay Safe and work on that '!Masked Fiddler' Video!!

Elisabeth Matesky *


(Scroll down & see my JH Violin Master Class UTube Film/Khachaturian)

May 7, 2020 at 02:57 PM · Well, while we are in a lockdown/stay at home/quarantine situation here in Oregon, we are not completely forbidden from going outside. Indeed, we’ve been encouraged to get exercise while being mindful of the six-foot rule, wearing masks, washing hands, and so forth. The vast majority of people who live here take it seriously and don’t abuse their chances to take walks or jog or ride bicycles. This results in walks that are rather serendipitous in their paths with people crossing streets, standing in doorways while others pass, and avoiding each other all over the place. It does make for some imaginative strolls.

The day I mentioned in the blog was the first really beautiful day we’d had all spring, and it did bring out a larger than usual number of people to the park, but as I said, they were mindful to stay separated, wore masks, and even when I play they stand at least 20 to 30 feet away.

Most days, there are perhaps a dozen people in a park, so it’s not a situation where I’m playing and drawing crowds of any size beyond three to five people at best. So, I feel quite safe. All in all, this gives me some focus for my practice, and I’m getting some needed performance experience.

May 10, 2020 at 05:08 PM · great initiative... thanks for sharing the story ^^

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Anne Cole Violin Maker
Anne Cole Violin Maker

Metronaut Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine