Today I taught a lesson to my favorite violin student, a little girl who beams joy and talent. Normally a weekly student who practiced diligently and would make any teacher proud, she had disappeared for over a month.
I had heard that her sweet parents had decided to separate, and she had moved several times in the meantime, but I hadn’t seen her.
When I arrived, she seemed cheerful and excited to play. But when she picked up her violin, it was dusty and out of tune. She told me she hadn’t practiced since our last lesson.
We began playing our scales, and I could feel her sadness palpably in the room. I stopped and asked her if she was alright. She said yes, but as we continued our notes, tears started seeping from her eyes, and she began to sob.
I threw my violin on the floor and embraced her.
I feel like a mama to all my “kids” (I have 7 little girls who I work with consistently, and I get very attached to them, cheering them on, and watching their skills blossom.
It was such a tender moment of vulnerability, seeing this cheerful little hardworking creature go through her emotions. She told me what was wrong, and explained that she didn’t know how to feel better.
My solution was to teach her vibrato – the way you make a violin warble and weep. It’s usually a more advanced technique that you teach a student a bit further along in their development, but it was vividly a tool she needed as a way to make her violin really sing with emotion,
I explained to her that instead of putting her violin away during challenging times – it was the best way for her cope with her feelings – to play her instrument, and put all of her emotions into the notes.
You hold a violin close to your heart, and its wood transmits your heart frequencies out through the strings into the world as sound.
I have never seen a child master vibrato so quickly. It was instantaneous. There was a greater force at work, it was her Passion and her angst, needing that outlet. I have never seen a student grock a teaching so instantly.
The rest of the lesson, whether we were playing scales or songs or improvising, she burst with a tone unprecedented. Her entire essence of musicality began to burst with life and heart and soul, where before she was technically proficient, but had not mastered her own emotive “voice”
By the end of the lesson, she was all aglow. I suggested whenever she felt sad, that she walk out in the woods and play her instrument to the trees. By the time I left she was the same buoyant little girl I have always known.
I am always amazed by the power of music to heal my wounded heart back to life after difficult times. I have never seen it so tangibly in action before me, in a mirror of my inner child.
I am so grateful for amazing students, who teach me so much. May I always remember to take my own advice. Playing music – the best way to move energy and emotion.
Sweet sweet creature … these muddling pains caused by the world drive us to find our home within, and express it outwardly, so our inner suffering doesn’t build cobwebs in the corners of our shadowy places.
And that is the gift. Let there be light! Let there be music! Aho!