When I was in the third grade I got a wild hair up my ass to learn to play the violin. I have absolutely no idea what possessed me to become enamored of this instrument, except perhaps the fact that it was smaller than I and had very beautiful curves, which I admired. The worn fuchsia crushed velvet that lined the beat-up old violin case in our closet only enchanted me more. I wanted this beautifully carved, voluptuous instrument to become part of my persona, and thus I joined the elementary school orchestra.
The orchestra -- and I use that term loosely -- was led by the great and powerful Mr. Walter James. I soon discovered to my horror that if a mistake were made, the offending child would be gruffly admonished in front of everyone and made to play the troublesome notes over and over until they had it down.
Now I had 3 strikes against me before I even picked up that violin and placed it under my chin (which by the way was extremely uncomfortable).
First and foremost, I was lazy. Learning came easily to me. As a result, I had no idea how to put effort into anything. "Practice makes perfect" was a completely foreign concept to me.
Secondly, the idea of being publicly shamed was horrific to me, and I was terrified of making a mistake.
Last but not least, I was not one to lay my ass on the line and risk looking foolish, no matter how tempting the reward. I was mercilessly teased by my big sister, and that was quite enough mocking for one little life.
I soon developed a strategy to ensure that I would not have to bear the brunt of Mr. James' wrath.
As the violin section played, I held my bow a quarter of an inch above the strings.
I fingered the neck as I had been taught and swung my bow up and down enthusiastically, but not a peep came from my violin, and I was one of the few students never chastised by our fearless leader.
After quite a few weeks of playing air violin, I realized there was no actual necessity for practicing, since I wasn't really making any noise. I continued to participate in the weekly orchestra practice, but now I just watched the other violin players and mimicked their fingering. When their bows went up, mine went up and when their bows came down, mine followed.
I couldn't believe I was getting away with it. There was always the faint shadow of dread that I would be caught, but for the most part it was a good arrangement.
That is, until the fateful day that Mr. James announced we had progressed to the point that the following week we were all going to perform a solo.
Needless to say, that was the day I quit the school orchestra, never to return.
This first appeared in "The Coffeelicious" on Medium.com.
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