Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Violin Story

This story takes place during my fourth grade year at H. S. Thompson Learning Center. I'm excited that I get to tell you this story because I've only shared this story with one person.... and I don't think it counts because that person was my therapist. So, this is the first time I've ever shared this story and its profound significance with anyone. Wow.
Alright, let me set the scene because this story takes place in an old, smelly portable behind our school. The floors squeaked and creaked and the air conditioning never worked and you had sweaty bodies smelling up the poor place and it always seemed bewilderingly fragile like a really strong gust of wind could bring it all crashing down. Well, you should know that this particular portable was no ordinary place, despite the health and hazardous code violations; it transported us to a magical realm.
I should also introduce you to Ms. Waites, who is the protagonist of this tale; though it's my story, she's the real heroine. Ms. Waites was my violin teacher, Strings director, a talented violinist, an inspirational teacher and all around well-rounded, colorful human being full of love and light.
I met Ms. Waites in Art class with Ms. Packard; she was going around signing up students for strings classes. As you may know, I sprung from the womb with my life's missions etched into my soul so I knew from the moment I saw Ms. Waites that this woman would change my life. I leaped at the opportunity to sign up and asked her a dozen questions on the spot. She went for it.
Okay, here's where things travel into a gray area in my character. When I asked my mother if I could play an instrument, she didn't want to be bothered either because I was generally a very demanding child and asked too damn many questions (nagged the hell out of her) or she didn't understand that the course and material was free. Instead of bothering myself with trying to convince my mother to sign the form, I decided to take an expedited route. Also, I knew that I probably lacked the innate persuasive abilities as a young child so I didn't even try. Who understands the reasoning and logic of a child? Who cares?
After assessing the risk involved, I decided that no life force on the face of this planet was capable of stealing this opportunity from me so I went ahead and forged my mom's signature, filled in all the necessary paper work and returned the forms to my new favorite teacher, Ms. Waites. How in the world Ms. Waites accepted it at face value is beyond me but I imagine she looked the other way due to my zeal. Maybe she was desperate for students? Who cares?
This is the best part of the story..
The day comes to get our instrument assignments and, of course, I draw the short straw of the lot. Everyone else had taken Strings before so they knew which instruments were in disrepair and they called dibs on the good ones. I was too slow, naive, and inexperienced to understand the ways of humans so I took the instrument handed to me with wide eyes and a smile. The other kids took it upon themselves to inform me of my violin's condition. I mean, they made damn sure that I knew it was a pile of junk. I was upset and Ms. Waites could tell somehow. Maybe it was my fanciful display of a temper tantrum that tipped her off... I don't know. Who cares?
Ms. Waites instinctively knew, as all great instructors do, what to tell me in order to inspire me. She appealed to my sense of work ethic, pride, and ego with just a phrase. Intuitively she said, "Melissa, if you can make this instrument sing, you can make anything sing." and with that I was pacified and determined in my mission. I told myself that day, "If anyone can make this instrument sing, it will be me." and that's been my motto since childhood. I rely strongly on my own skill and ability, not the instruments, and from that day forward that expression has been like a mantra that I whisper to myself daily.
Its important for us to remember that our tools will only take us so far in life. We must rely on our talents, skills and technical ability to carry us through the task at hand.

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