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Pauline Lerner

September 23, 2005 at 6:10 AM

Last week, I went to an orchestra rehearsal for the first time in a few months, and it felt so good. I really enjoy teaching beginning violin, but it was wonderful to sit down with my violin in a room full of accomplished musicians. From time to time I would start laughing, and I had to explain why to my standmate. When we played a theme and then repeated it with variations, I thought of Twinkle. When we played a run of 1/32 notes, I thought of my beginning students who find it hard to go from one string to another when the notes are fast – 1/8 notes. I was just playing on a different level. I talked to some people who play instruments other than violin, and I learned a lot. There are clarinets, bass clarinets, octave clarinets (?), and a few more. Some of them cost thousands of dollars, even for “ordinary” quality ones, because the metal tubing is so complex. I am used to having to retune frequently because of small changes in the ambient temperature or humidity, but metal doesn’t have the “give” that wood does. Sometimes a critical piece of metal snaps and wreaks so much damage that the repairs cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars for an “ordinary” grade instrument.

It was also fun to be reunited with friends I haven’t seen in a few months and to find out what happened to them over the summer. Everyone’s kids are getting older. The very young ones sometimes catch on to the fact that playing music, as their Mom or Dad does, is fun. They learn a few timeless themes, like Ode to Joy, from TV commercials. Since I don’t have kids and I don’t watch TV, I wouldn’t have known this. Then there are the life cycle events that people and their families go through. Someone’s son started college. Someone else is expecting a baby. Someone got a promotion. Someone else retired from his career in IT and is planning a second career as a ski instructor.

We have some new repertoire, some new members, some new gigs, even a new server. Fall is a time of renewal for us in many ways.

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I always enjoy orchestra rehearsals, but the second one this month was really special. I've been running like crazy recently, and so have several of the people I talked to at rehearsal. Rehearsal is more than a sanity break. It refreshes the spirit. I especially liked the talk our conductor gave us about Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, which we are playing. He said that Mozart’s music often has a child-like quality, a reassuring feeling that things are as they ought to be. This is true in spite of all the atrocities and hatred that were going on in Mozart’s time, just as they are now. Mozart’s music brings us to a place deep within us where there is calmness, release, and strength. To me, music is like a religion. The word "child-like" brought me a revelation and an understanding about myself. I had a defining experience when I was about 10 or 12 years old. My mother had bought me a clock radio with green stamps, and I liked to listen to classical music before going to sleep. One night I heard Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, and I knew right then that playing the violin was going to be a way of life for me. I regretted, and still regret, that I can not sing, but I knew that my violin would be my voice.

Many blessings to Mozart and all musicians.

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