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Julian Stokes

The prodigal returns...

April 7, 2010 at 6:32 PM

She said "Where ya been?" I said "No place special"
She said "You look different" I said "Well I guess"
She said "You been gone" I said "That's only natural"
She said "You gonna stay ?" I said "If you want me to. Yes! "

Those are some lines from Isis by Bob Dylan. And I feel that they sum up almost perfectly how I feel about my return to the violin.

It was about 32 years ago. Count the days - where did that time go? For one reason or another: teenage apathy, rebellion, whatever, I laid down the violin, never to return. Until now.

Over the years I have heard her siren voice call to me in various places. From the panpipe band on the streets of Manchester to the more formal classical recordings coming out of the radio. Always with the power to move, to draw a tear.

One night on eBay for no particular reason I strayed from my usual computer hardware onto the musical instrument section where for £20 I won my very own Violin Shaped Object. Before commiting a real sum of money I needed to see if the feeling was still mutual on both sides.

The VSO arrived. I approached it with trepidation. Would I remember how to hold it, what to do. Awkward at first. Nervous. Sweating. The noises she makes tell me that she won't easily forgive me for our time apart. But... now and then, there is a glimmer. A hint of how good things might be.

I start lessons with a teacher next Monday.

From Bev Saunders
Posted on April 7, 2010 at 7:51 PM

So now your journey continues...welcome back!  Keep us updated on how it's going.


From David Allen
Posted on April 8, 2010 at 11:20 PM

Sometimes our hidden selves emerge when we're looking the other way; or they don't. Either way, You'll never be the same. Enjoy!


From Kirsten Scheid
Posted on April 9, 2010 at 3:03 AM

I'm starting over for the third time. Have fun!

From Andrew Pollow
Posted on April 10, 2010 at 12:26 AM

I think the violin is the funnest hobby you can have. And an acoustic is alot easier to carry around than most instruments. Is that ebay thing any good? Some of those outfits are so cheap I dont see how you could even sell a bow that cheap.

From Julian Stokes
Posted on April 11, 2010 at 8:29 AM

Thanks for all the encouragement. I look forward to writing about the next step on this journey.

About the VSO - it is a secondhand  Czechoslovakian "Tatra by Rosetti". It has a very red varnish and a sour, strident tone. Really it was just good enough to see whether the flame was still burning. I've moved on to a  violin from the Maidstone movement circa 1900 - again a student instrument - but altogether a different proposition.

From Marsha Weaver
Posted on April 14, 2010 at 12:39 PM

Hi, Julian --

My "absence" was seventeen years, returning just three months ago (at age 60).  I can certainly relate to everything you wrote.  My "VSO" was part of a $75 outfit from a local music store that also does international online sales.  The VSO was SO bad that I had to return it.  Through a weird set of God-given circumstances, I now have a very nice German-made violin that came to me for free.  I also still have my circa 1900 German Conservatory Violin (my original instrument from 17 years ago), but the new 3/4-size violin is far more comfortable for me to play, and I consider it my primary instrument.

I'm so glad that you've found your way back to the violin -- I hope it's as good for you as mine is being for me!



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