It has been my pleasure, or pain sometimes, to take violin lessons from Meagan Kish. She is our Strings That Sing (please link) violin teacher at University Place Elementary School. She is pretty, patient and kind-a winning combination for children indeed.
I have sung in choirs all my life, played the majestic massive piano for decades and thought that I could conquer a fragile violin in no time. Well, the violin is whipping me into total submission! I started violin lessons at the same time our 2nd graders at University Place began. This has given me a unique opportunity to travel the same musical road with our Village of Promise children.
First of all, violin mastery requires the exacting brain power similar to mathematics. The note played is either very right or it is REALLY wrong. It is easy to see the connection between higher academic achievement and instrumental mastery by how much one has to count, focus and concentrate. Violin bowing has its own set of demands. Using both arms to do something completely different in often contorted ways is surprisingly challenging. Pulling the bow correctly is almost athletic in its execution.
The violin is always a demanding master. It cannot be put away at a temperature that is too hot or too cold. It must be stored properly and treated with immense respect. Good lessons to learn early in life, are they not? Children learn to value the investment and treat the violin with care.
This musical experience requires intentional determination. Learning something new that is difficult can be discouraging but our children in Strings That Sing must be proud and excited to have persevered. There is a priceless payoff. To play and hear that sweet spot on the violin is truly like coaxing a captive bird to sing.
When I hear the lilting violin in orchestral music now I have a much greater appreciation for the tone, the warmth and the beauty of that great instrument. I hear the years of practice, intelligence and determination in every note. In fact, I actually am listening for it-and that is perhaps the greatest gift of all.
Jennifer B. Cash is Director of Communications for Village of Promise
To see the Strings That Sing violin recital 2012 (link to video)