Guest Post by Mary Ann - I was given a friend’s violin when I turned 50 in 2007. I found it natural to play by ear. It seemed every time I walked by it I would reach out and grab it to play a few songs or even just bars. There is something about the resonance that flows through the body as you’re playing a piece…sort of an extension of the soul if you will.
Three life-changing incidences broadsided me and kicked the violin out of my life. In 2011 I had a massive heart attack that resulted in 8 heart stents. After the heart attack playing the high notes on the violin was over-stimulating----my brain just couldn’t handle it. What had been a joy (that resonance) now became something to put me in panic mode.
Within a year, I also tripped on concrete stairs while running, resulting in broken bones in my left hand. I play right handed (with violin in my left hand), but am a lefty. Healing was very painful and arduous.
The third blow to my playing was a secondary medical condition to the breaks that cropped up as my hand was healing. Dupuytren's Contracture crippled the last two fingers on my left hand. The pain of the breaks, as well as the DC, was horrible over the next two years. The two fingers remain in bent angles, never to straighten again, according to hand surgeons. (I am not a surgery candidate due to the odd nature of my diagnosis.) In frustration I sold the violin because I could no longer stand to stare at something I missed so much.
Fast-forward to 2017. I had often wondered in these ensuing years if I could take up the violin again. It took a few months to be brave enough to go into a music store and try. I say brave because what would I do if I found I still could not play? (Hope is a courageous yet frightening word.) I did wonder if perhaps, my fingers would allow, or the viola would be a better choice. How does one express the emotions of finding a lost friend who you thought was dead to you? I took that drive to the store and picked up the violin first and played several notes-----especially the high ones-----and was elated to find that once again, that resonance shot through my soul in a blissful and comforting way. My fingers found their marks with very little trouble. I did try several violas yet kept returning to the violin.
I drove away from the store dumbstruck by the idea of second chances. The past two years have seen me losing my only child to estrangement as well as an unexpected diagnosis of cancer (which the surgeons assure me was fully removed with surgery). So many second chances, and hope for others as well….
I am gearing up for the purchase of my second violin (this one from Fiddlershop) for my upcoming 60th birthday. I just ordered the Varigrip from them to strengthen my fingers prior to ordering the violin. If, at the end of the year, you hear wafts of violin in the wind, know that they come from a second-chance violinist playing in the Midwest, laughing in joy the whole way.
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