strung out
                  my life as an amateur violist

   brandenburged  |  # c

  A small group from the orchestra was leaving the main ensemble for big portions of the class period. They were trying out some chamber music to play in the Southwest Washington music competition. Tracy and Carrie and company needed another violinist -- would I want to join the group? It sounded a tad ad hoc to me, but a hell of a lot more exciting than what I was doing.  

The little windowless practice room was jammed with nine students - violinists, violists, cellists and a bass player. It was crowded and hot as I stepped up to share a stand with another violinist. Whoa. A very black page -- a lot o’ notes! After a couple of early train wrecks, we managed to stumble our way through a few phrases. Hey, this is pretty cool! A couple more goes and it’s sounding something like a jaunty, regal dance or gears of a busy Swiss clock.  

It’s the first movement from the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3. A tune that I would sing to my first born son, Jack, 15 years later as I held him, fresh out of his mother.  


Mr. Spellman wasn’t so keen on our prospects of pulling this off. The poor guy had seen a lot of disappointment in his day and was trying to temper our expectations. With a little help from the teacher assistant, who I later took my first lessons from, our little ensemble was sounding pretty damn good.  

We survived our competition performance relatively intact and anxiously awaited our ranking. My sister’s boyfriend (who she would later marry and then divorce) played in a high school band his father conducted. He caught our gig and was a little blown away. The omens were good. A “1” was the highest ranking, which meant superior. Spellman told us that a “2” was probably what we would get.  

We had to wait many hours for the verdict. They awarded us a "1"; we were euphoric and still somewhat in disbelief of what a motley crew of 13 and 14 year olds had accomplished with a little coaching. I had everybody sign a copy of our Superior rating and then framed it. I figured this was as good as it was going to get.  

I was wrong. >> 


 days of naze   days:strung out