The 12 years I played violin in orchestras gave me a lot of things. Not the least of them reasonable skill with the violin. Also things like a sense of identity in adolescent years when that was hard to come by, good friendships, some of which I still maintain, and a free trip to Florida. One benefit I certainly wasn’t expecting when I signed up at the wise age of 9 is something that I’ve really appreciated of late. What I mean is a familiarity with a number of classical pieces. Evidently the symphonic corpus is such that my 7-or-so years of playing legitimate orchestra music mean that if I keep my radio tuned to NPR classical I’ll run into an old friend (or enemy) fairly frequently. Maybe it’s the sentimentalism I have mentioned in the past, but there is something comforting and perhaps beautiful about hearing a familiar passage and trying to remember exactly what it is and when I played it. It’s like running into someone you haven’t seen in a while, or visiting a place you used to spend a lot of time at. There’s a jolt of recognition, and then a frantic (often unsuccessful) mental search for the significance of it all. And sometimes it catapults me mentally into an orchestra retreat near Lake Michigan, or a Youth Orchestra rehearsal with Mr Piipo telling us “you play like a grandma” and “that is Ludwig Von Cute.” Or a snowy February afternoon in the Calvin rehearsal room, exchanging gossip with my stand partner in between movements. And all these travels are happening as I’m waiting for a stoplight on Broad Street humming along with the second violin part of Mozart.
For similar thoughts about books, see another recent post. I guess I am sentimental.