From the beginning...

Working in the City for a hedge fund I began to feel that something was lacking in my life.  I enjoy my job very much, but the City isn’t known for nurturing the soul!  I’ve always loved classical and Irish folk music, especially when it involves the violin; there is something so moving and engaging about a piece of music played on a fiddle.  I played the piano as a young child but my desire to play the violin was compelling, so when lessons were offered through school, I jumped at the chance; my parents, however, were not so impassioned.  One of the differences between the piano and the violin is, aside from the obvious, that unlike the piano, you cannot just pick up a violin and bash out a tune.  The bow has to be held correctly, the violin should be placed in a certain way, otherwise the ensuing sound can be quite disagreeable.  While you can sit at a piano, press a key and the result you hear is an actual note.  So sadly my violin calling was put to an abrupt end after a couple of months due to lack of parental enthusiasm! However, I never gave up on my dream of playing the violin again, one day!

A few years ago I treated myself to a violin for my birthday.   When the instrument arrived I excitedly took it out of the case to admire my new acquisition to see that the strings needed tightening; luckily my boyfriend at the time was a classically trained pianist, “I can sort that for you” he said confidently, while the strings snapped and twanged one by one.  I mournfully put the violin back in its case and put it in the loft, telling myself that it just wasn’t meant to be.  Again my dreams of learning to play the violin were crushed!

While walking down the road from my house to work one day last July I had just turned 42, a teenage girl walked out of her front door carrying a violin case, right, I said to myself, third time lucky!  This was the sign I needed to get me back to realising my dream.  I got in touch with a tutor, bought a second hand violin and began my lessons.

My first lesson

I’m a firm believer that if a person wants to live a fulfilled life, they have to get out of their comfort zone.  Taking up an instrument in ‘middle age’ seemed crazy to some of my friends and colleagues, defeatist cries of “it will be much harder picking it up at your age” and dismissive comments such as “why bother?”.  Well indeed, why bother with anything that presents a challenge… because of the incredible feeling of achievement, that’s why!  I refused to listen to those fatalistic comments and told myself that nothing worth doing is ever easy.  Furthermore, the great news is that it doesn’t matter what age you are, anyone can learn to play.  There are also many advantages to learning to play as a more ‘mature’ person!  So, to my lesson.. I greeted Petru, my new tutor at the door, he was friendly, warm and enthusiastic, a great start.  We started by doing some warm up exercises and stretches, and I must have been a little tense as they really helped to relax me.  The tone of the lesson was relaxed and fun but focussed.  Petru explained the parts of the parts of the violin and then he showed me how to pluck the open strings (properly known as ‘pizzicato’).  Then we turned to the bow; the correct technique of holding the bow is a very important element of playing the violin, once this is mastered hopefully anyone should be able produce a beautiful tone.  I was totally absorbed and before I knew it the lesson was over!  I was left feeling elated; I was finally on the path to realising my dream and no reluctant parents or broken strings were going to stop me!

Nicola Dodd

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