December 2013

My Great-Grandmother's Violin: My inspiration and how it all began

December 4, 2013 15:23

Hello friends of,

It's been awhile since I've posted a blog, and I thought I'd give an update on what I've been up to post-master's degree as well as take a trip with you down memory lane.

This past year has been wonderful to me; I've had many musically satisfying opportunities, exciting projects to work on, and I *finally* completed my masters degree. Since completing my M.A. degree last May at Washington State University, I've been performing in the Spokane Symphony Orchestra on a more regular basis as well as keeping myself busy with multiple projects. I am currently designing a theory curriculum for violinists ("Minding your Ps and Fs: A Music Theory Guide for the Young Violinist"), as well as completing a recording project for my studio. This recording project entails me recording the first three Suzuki books, and providing a DVD for my students to watch as well as "Teacher's Tips", where I give a few tips before performing each piece so my students remember some of the important aspects of each piece. I also have an accompaniment CD that goes along with the project (yes, I took a page from Nathan Cole's :) ). The main impetus for this project was to bring the tempo down for my students who are still polishing the piece, but need the experience of playing with the accompaniment. I've also developed a website, which is listed on my profile page. I'm sure I'll post more about my projects more specifically in the future.

You're saying, "Ok…so that's great…but that has nothing to do with the title of your article." I'm getting to that now :). Since completing my masters degree, I've had way more time on my hands, and it has been a fabulous opportunity to pursue projects and learn the way I wish/need to learn. This kind of time has been a gift I know won't last forever. But this time has also been a gift in many other ways. I've had time to stop and think about *why* I play the violin. I've had time to rediscover why I fell in love with this instrument, and reconnect with the violin the way I've been wanting to from the very beginning. And, in going down my memory lane, it all began with my great-grandmother's violin.

I remember being three years old in Ohio at my grandparent's house. On their mantel (which makes me shudder now), sat a violin. My great-grandmother's violin. I didn't know what it was at first, so I asked my parents. They told me about my great-grandmother (she had died years before I was born) and how she was an amateur violinist and a fabulous sixth-grade school teacher. My parents explained what the violin was, and I am pretty sure they played some violin music for me. All I really remember was staring into the f holes and feeling like the soul of that violin was singing to me. It called to me. I instantly became enamored with the violin, and determined from that moment on the violin would play a very important part in my life.

Shortly after my introduction to this violin, my family moved to the state of Washington. It wasn't until I was eight that my family found a fabulous violin teacher, and so that is when I began. It was a short three years later I decided music, and the violin most specifically, would be my career.


I have just come back from my Thanksgiving break with my family. Even though I've been married for three years, I still have an incredible amount of "stuff" at my parents house (and they remind me of this from time to time). My great-grandmother's violin has been at my parents for years (we inherited it soon after we moved to Washington, I think), and having recently reminisced about this violin I decided to bring it back with me. Partially to show my students, partially to get the bow rehaired since I'm in need of a back up bow so my other bow can get rehaired (I'm pretty sure the strings and bow hair haven't been changed since I was born, and probably haven't for longer than that), and also because, after all, the violin was given to me. I found an envelope in the rickety, old case I had forgotten about addressed to me, in the year 2005. It was a note from my great aunt, daughter of my great-grandmother, and inside the envelope were pictures of my great-grandmother. One was of her in her teens playing the violin, and one of her as a school teacher. What an amazing thing to see! I also have my great-grandmother's graduation ring from high school, coincidentally.

This is all to say that it's amazing to think about how that violin (which honestly isn't the best sounding violin) has shaped my life. Regardless of it's dollar value, it is priceless to me. It's as if I knew my great-grandmother somehow. I can only hope that I am as good of a teacher as she was. She has inspired me to be the violinist I am today.

And so, I am asking you, fellow violinists: what or who inspired you to play the violin? I'd love to hear some of your stories!

3 replies

More entries: February 2013

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

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 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