Sunday, March 19, 2006


Emma places her chin at the base of the violin and takes a deep breath. The the smell of the resin close to her face is like a narcotic. This off again/on again relationship with her instrument is a marriage now celebrating its 10th anniversary, and one that has required cultivation and long periods of give and take. It is something, she will say, that she genuinely loves.

She knows this instrument by a name she has never spoken aloud, not even when alone. Part of a teacher’s attempt to help a child think of her violin as a partner in her music – a living thing – as one might equate a horse and rider. The teacher had suggested she give it a name, speak to it, thank it when it performed well, and offer constructive criticism when it didn’t. Emma considers herself fortunate to have been too young and inexperienced to think it was strange. As she got older, and studied more formally, she noticed that no one ever mentioned such a method, or made casual references to their own instruments’ names, so she had kept it silent.

But what she felt when she was near it belonged singularly to that violin, and the rhythm of their partnership was still so surprising in its perfection that to this day, after each session with it, she did indeed say, as if in silent prayer, “Thank you very much.”

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