My Experiments with Music

About 13 years ago, when I was a mere chit of a 7 year old, my mother decided to enroll me for guitar classes. I was very enthusiastic about the idea, since I didn’t know anything about the dreaded word :- PRACTICE.
So, early one July morning, when the dew was settling in the grass and the birds were chirping and most children of my age were screaming at the tops of their voices “I want BREAKFASSSSSSSST.”, I was in Michael sir’s house, looking up at him from my short perch on the stool.
The sir took one look at me, looked at my mother and commiserated with her, “She’s too small, she won’t be able to hold the guitar.”
Instead, from some cubbyhole in his study, he pulled out a small violin. I was fascinated and stared deep into the F-holes (and no, I am not swearing here!) and barely heard the mumbled, “What’re the fees?” and “Bring her here 3 days a week, at 6:30 am, she can go to school from here.”
Then, began a 3 month long rollercoaster ride. Every violin-t day, I used to set off for the class, sitting behind my mom on her scooter, holding on for dear life, and sometimes, snoozing. Everyday, I was learning more about the treble clef, quavers, semi-quavers and demi-hemi-semi quavers, whole notes, scales, arpeggios and fingering… Early on, I realised that the “King of Instruments” was not easy to master, namely because your finger HAD to be on the correct spot for the correct note. For a C major scale, for example, you could NOT place your third finger on C# on A, you HAD to move it a trifle onto D natural…
After 3 months, the sir took pity on me and informed my mother that this HAD to stop. Just as my spirits were lifting slightly, he told her that he was going to send his star student to come and teach me at home.
I was introduced to Krishnakumar sir. I have played on many violins since my naive days, but the tone of sir’s violin is something I have never heard. It was love at first sight. Its honey colour and its warm tones still wash over me when I think of any western classical music.
Sir was young and idealistic. He thought he could make a good violinist out of me, his first pupil. He tried, REALLY hard. Books were brought and books were discarded. I went from simple major scales to minors, from Hickory Dickory Dock to Traumerie, from the first position to the 4th and meanwhile, from the smallest violin to one of my own.
Meanwhile, Sir’s frustration kept building. After hearing a particularly bad wail from me, he taped white stickers so that I knew where to place my fingers. The key words were, “Elbow straight”, “Chin up”, “Don’t droop”, “Keep your hand straight” and finally “Don’t LOOK.” (These are salient features of the WESTERN violin, the Eastern violin is much easier to learn) Everytime I broke these cardinal rules, I earned a rap on my knuckles.
I grew up, loving the instrument, inspite of being the laziest practice-hater around. The day I got my own instrument, I spent one day looking at it and applying rosin lovingly to the bow, gazing with pride at its bridge and plucking at its strings idly. (For afficionados, that’s pizzicato)
Sir grew up too, had a wife and kids. Weirdly enough, he named his daughter Shruthi, and soon, that became his threat, “I am going to rename my child if you don’t practise. Madichi.”
In 7th standard, sir had a brainwave. He enrolled me for Grade 1 exam at ABRSM, (Associated Board of Royal Schools of Music). I still remember that day, at Kottayam.
(Small nervous kid enters room. Big blonde haired man is sitting at the piano and flashes a big smile)
“Hello, Shroo-tee. How are you?”
(mumbling) “I am fine, thank you.”
“Are you ready to play your pieces?”
“No, err… yes…”
I went through the pieces, the scales and arpeggios
“Can you play the A major arpeggio?”
I regaled him with a perfect played slurred D-major.
“Thank you. That was very good. Now may I have A-major?”
By now, I was looking at him with a blank face and he must have thought I didn’t know what he was talking about. I played the A-major after it somehow registered in my brain.
Somehow, I passed, with merit too, and mustered enough confidence to write Grade 2, which I passed with distinction.
Around that time, we were all called to perform a concert at the local YWCA. The youngsters were sitting on chairs playing Will-‘O-The-Wisp with my old teacher conducting. Electricity vanished, we still went on playing. Everyone clapped and our pictures came in the newspaper…!
After Grade 3, when I was in 10th, my mother asked me nicely to stop violin classes since I had studies to concentrate on. I was in 2 minds, but dropped it anyway.
Nowadays, my violin is in a dusty corner of my room. All its strings have broken and the bridge has broken off, but when I am rather depressed, I pluck its last remaining string – the G-string. Kind of symbolic? Nah, I think not.


4 thoughts on “My Experiments with Music

  1. duttan

    i have had a similar experience in the musical instrument world…

    but my teachers used to tell me that i was talented! 😀

  2. Angel

    ahh, the violin…it sounds soo whole, so beautiful.( not when you hear people practicing!!)
    I suggest you conitnue to play it…Itzhak Perlman is dying to collaborate!!

  3. Lost in trance...

    …maan, I didnt know “fingering” had any relevance in violin !!!!

    (Sorry cudnt help it….my PQz too strong for me…)

  4. Anonymous

    nice witty post!!jokes apart, isn’t that a blessing… to have your dear violin to tune you into the right note on gloomy days?cool blog you have here.
    reshma -

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