You stand out front,
A firm grip on your bow
And their attention.

Rapt, upstanding, desperate to please,
Two dozen Heifetz aspirants fall in and follow –
Up-bow, down-bow –
Through dense quaver thickets
Up and down arpeggio hills
Along broad, smooth andante trails
Over jagged heaps of broken thirds,
Filling the room with smiles, swarms of sound

And me with longing and regret
That you were not around
When I was young;
And the wistful, certain knowledge
I’ll never be in your class.

Inspired by and dedicated to the wonderful staff of the East Sussex Music Service, and in particular my daughter’s violin teachers. There is no praise high enough for their dedication, enthusiasm and musicianship.

8 thoughts on “Noteworthy

  1. I’m always fascinated to read how parents mine a rich lode of self-reflection from their children’s experience – the vicarious life. There’s an intimacy there which enhances the observation, lending an aura of participation mystique. I loved “dense quaver thickets” and “jagged heaps of broken thirds” — and saw in those children aspiring, reaching for something only masters achieve the frustration of all we writers whose gift and craft will only reach approximations of verbal magnitude. Our shot, such as it is. But still there are “smiles, swarms of sound” which make it all worthwhile. Nice job.

  2. Thanks so much, Brendan; as ever, you’ve blessed me with a really insightful and generous comment. If I’d been taught the flute (or indeed to write poetry!) the way my daughter is learning the violin, life might have been very different. But, as you say, the smiles and sound (yes, even that of two dozen novice fiddle-players) make it all worthwhile.

  3. My daughter learnt the violin for a short time and now I sit in an office next to various music rooms filled with trumpets, singers, oboes, drums, electric guitars… oh the list goes on, haha. There are good teachers and there are so-so teachers but where there is a pupil eager to learn, there is happiness.

  4. Hi David – I was a teacher myself (further education) for a few years, but ultimately realised I would never be ‘that’ person. I wasn’t lucky enough to learn music from people of the calibre of my daughter’s teachers, but I did have an excellent French teacher (RIP Tom Hoare) and a couple of inspiring English teachers at just the right age and stage. They’re the reason I’m here now.

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