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Pauline Lerner

May 24, 2004 at 7:38 PM

Everything related to the violin has strong emotional content for me. I was really moved recently when one of my students told me that she would no longer come for lessons. She had played the violin in fourth grade but could not continue it because her family couldn't afford it. Now a senior in college, she returned to violin lessons. She was so happy. She even remembered some of the little pieces she had played in fourth grade. She is quite talented. She learned quickly and enjoyed continuing a dream that had been interrupted long ago. Money is still tight for her. She is going to school full time and working part time to pay for her education. She lives with her parents to save money, although she would prefer to be on her own.

She sent me an email telling me that she had good news and bad news. The good news was that she had been accepted by a very good, but very expensive, graduate school. The bad news was that her expenditures would increase; she would have to work longer hours to earn more money; and she would not be able to afford violin lessons. I remembered my experiences growing up in a family without much money, and I felt so bad. I sent her an email saying:

"I would hate for you to give up the violin now. You waited so many years to return to it. You have talent, and you obviously enjoy playing it. Let's try to work something out. I could give you lessons as a "scholarship" student as long as I have an available time slot not taken up by a paying student. Do you think you will find time to practice? The other financial concern is renting the violin. Can you manage the $20 per month? It is a good instrument and a very good investment. If not, you can get a junky one for very little money, but, in the long run, you're better off with the one [you are renting now].

"My family was always on the edge financially. My father paid for my violin lessons anyway, somehow. My violin teacher lent me one of his violins. After I had played it for years, I told my father that I would be sad when I had to give it back. My father said, "It's your violin now." He had been paying my teacher a few bucks a week for years to buy the violin, and I'm so glad that he did. I sympathize with you because I went through something similar. I don't have any money to help you pay for your violin, but I can offer you a "scholarship" to pay for the lessons. My father and my violin teacher would be happy about it."

She turned down my offer, as I had expected. She has her pride and strong feelings of fairness. I dearly hope that she can return to the violin before long.

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