Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Funny Question

The #1 question I've been asked by customers when doing markets is a funny one, at least to me:

"Are you really a violinist?"

I don't think "The Quilting Violinist" would be a very effective marketing tool if I wasn't actually a violinist!  So the answer is, of course "yes.  I am."

I enjoyed sharing my first quilt a few posts back.  So I thought you might like to see my first violin.  It goes back a little farther in time than my first quilting class:
I'm reluctant to date this picture-- makes me feel old!  But it's not so hard to figure out, really.  The Beatle haircuts on the boys.  The cool mini skirt in the back row.  And the totally mod jumpsuit with the big floral print in the front row.  Oh yes.  Very Summer of Love.

  You already guessed I was the littlest one in the front row, didn't you?  The two boys in the front row with me were the same age (4 years old), just taller than me.  That violin is 1/8 the size of the one I have now.

Most everyone by now has heard of the Suzuki Method  of music education for very young children.  But back in the late 1960's, it was brand new in this country.  My parents heard that it was being taught at a music school near our home, and thought it might be fun, and maybe I would look cute with a violin (I have to admit they were right about that!).

We were pioneers of the program in this country.  We had a wonderful teacher who had, by necessity, studied in Japan with Mr. Suzuki himself.  (What an experience that must have been!).  The books we used  were the first editions available in English, published in Tokyo in 1955.  They had been translated directly, and literally, from Japanese, and as a result were largely incomprehensible.

 Here's an EXACT quote from a bowing exercise:

"When theyb become skillful, make them play the exersices as slured below."


Then there's this helpful hint for the "Gavotte" by Lully:  "play a little fastery".

But it was really all about the ear training (still is).  Note reading didn't come until a few years later.  So for mastery of the songs, all the books had this in the back, for practicing at home:

 See what it says on the left, below the word "Zen"? Yes, you read it correctly:  33 1/3.  I think this belongs in the Smithsonian.  When was the last time you saw one of those?

There's a great quote from Mr. Suzuki himself, true in any language:

"Talent is not nature.  It is the result of the accumulation of hard work."

I couldn't agree more.

Thanks for taking this walk down Memory Lane with me!


  1. That's neat that you were among the vanguard of the Suzuki method in the U.S. My daughters used it in their piano studies - the translations were obviously improved upon. :)

  2. Wonderful post! And your photo is adorable. This takes me back down memory lane, when I was a Suzuki 'cello student, and my sister played violin.

    P.S. I love your tag line, "Holding life together with stitches and notes." Reminds me of an interview I saw, where Tommy Tune said that Twiggy learned to tap dance by connecting it all to her knitting.

  3. Sure enough, you really DID look cute with a violin under your chin. Still do.

  4. Hi Linda, I'm a friend of Judith's - we moved from Tampa in 2000, back to Milwaukee and then in 2007 retired to New Mexico. I enjoyed reading and seeing the pictures too. I play piano but in music school one of my favorite classes was string class--had always wanted to play violin and never near a teacher, so this experience gave me a taste of what it might have been like. The class consisted of about 25 music majors, and we had a full string orchestra. Well, playing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star might not have gotten us to Carnegie Hall, but we did learn quite a bit!

  5. Wow, amazing! You were sooo little, awww!

    ps. We are going to start Otto on the Suzuki method with piano when he turns three. My husband plans guitar, piano, sax. I used to play viola but let it slip (time erases).