Although I’m not a music major, I brought my beloved violin to the United States during this study abroad semester. People always ask me, “Is that your own violin? You brought it to the United States? Seriously?” Yes, seriously. Along with other heavy luggage, I carried my violin on my shoulder (which was really cumbersome) from Korea to join the campus orchestra. This violin could not be detached from my life.
When I was six years old, I was one of the typical kids who started to learn musical instruments. Parents would hear their young kids shouting, “Mom! I want to learn piano, Dad! I want to learn violin!” Well, the difference is, for me, it was not my free will. I still remember the first day of violin lessons. I got in the car, without even knowing where I was going, and entered the violin school, holding my mom’s hand. The teacher handed me a tiny violin made out of sponge (for kids, before they start practicing with an actual violin) and made me hold it on my neck. While following instructions, I thought, “What on Earth is going on?” Yes, my mom literally forced me to play the violin. Although my mom recalls that she just wanted me to have a good hobby, I don’t believe her — because it was more than just a hobby! At the time, I hated the violin. So, neither one of us didn’t expect that 15 years later, I would still be playing the violin, but more enthusiastically and earnestly.
I want to explain the relationships between me, my mom and the violin. I would have to say that my mom was a “Tiger mom.” Otherwise, I can’t explain why she was so dedicated and strict about the violin (because she never imagined me being a music major). My mom says that if it wasn’t for the violin, my relationship with her would’ve been much more kind, intimate, caring and loving. I totally agree. To me, the source of the hatred toward the violin was my mom. It was a “Spartan” practice. In the violin school, you could hear the kids weeping in the practice room after being scolded by their moms. I was one of them. As my violin skills improved, my relationship with my mom worsened. It was an inverse relationship.
Ironically, I started to love the violin when my mom stopped meddling in my relationship with violin. When I was in high school, her dedication naturally tilted to my academic achievement. Maybe she didn’t have enough energy to do the “Spartan” practice anymore (which, in a way, is kind of sad). Of course, I am truly thankful for my mom. Without her, I couldn’t have played the violin for 15 years. It was my mom who led the young kid, me, to play the violin until she became an adult.
When I finally got into college, the first thing I did was register for the campus orchestra. It was just natural. I didn’t want to stop playing the violin. But it was also my first time being a part of a “real” orchestra. Before that, I always practiced and performed by myself, playing solo pieces. Of course, we did have an ensemble in my violin school, but that was just one of the ways to improve one’s violin skills (which was indeed a place for a staring contest between the moms). The orchestra was my first time getting involved in such a harmonious, collaborative and friendly atmosphere while playing an instrument. It was my first time listening to others’ sounds, not one’s own sound. It was my first time playing a symphony — an instrumental composition in three or more movements, written for an orchestra. Before that, I always listened and played sonatas or concertos, solo pieces. It was my first time visiting classical concerts just to listen to the orchestra. It was my first time meeting friends who have similar hobbies, passion and dreams. I couldn’t contain myself. I was feeling true love toward the orchestra and the violin.
I’m an amateur, but I have played the violin for 15 years. Still, many students in the orchestra started to play their instrument here, in the college, for the first time in their life. As an amateur, we need to practice twice as often as the professional musicians for the concerts. For every winter and summer break, these people practice five days per week, just for two hour concerts. I can’t forget my first concert. Two hours felt like 10 minutes. The time just passed as a blink. I was extremely excited and I couldn’t wait for the next concert.
For everyone, it’s never too late to learn to play an instrument. Classical music is deeply connected to one’s emotions, and I have grown my emotions while being a part of an orchestra. Playing an instrument is really one of the best ways to express one’s delicate emotions and convey it to other people. Again, the violin can’t be detached from my life. It is my asset: an incomparable, sincere achievement.