Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My First Violin!

When I was four years old, my father came home with a tiny black case.  I didn’t know what was inside but I could tell it was something special. 

“Tami,” he said,  “I bought you a violin.  You’re going to start taking lessons!” 

I felt a sudden rush of excitement. 

THIS,’ I thought,  ‘will be my new favorite toy!’ 

I begged him to let me play right away, but he said, “Not now . . . you have to take lessons.  You will learn.” 

Looking back at this moment, I am amazed at how his words have permeated every part of my experience.  As a violinist, I am constantly learning, striving to fully master an instrument that is as challenging as it is beautiful.   As I reflect on my time with the BSO, I am grateful for the things I have learned.

Playing in orchestra full time is like playing football.
Before moving to Baltimore, I didn’t think much about the Ravens.  However, football is a hot topic everywhere I go– in stores, at church, and even at work!  The Ravens play hard.  They run up and down the field, take hits, and tackle opposing players.   After my first few concerts with the BSO, I felt as though I had been playing in a Ravens game and had been tackled multiple times by a guy named “House!”  “I’m so sore!!!’ I thought, “Am I on a concert stage or in a football war zone?”  Musicians make it look easy, but playing in orchestra is very demanding physically.  Although I have played violin all my life, I have had to condition my body for the physical rigors of playing in orchestra each week.  The Ravens are amazing, but there is another team of enduring champs in town: The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Playing in an orchestra is completely different than playing as a soloist.
Before this concert season, I performed primarily as a soloist.  I worked painstakingly to memorize pieces, develop musical nuance, and perfect stage presence.   I carried the weight of my performances, working to present renditions that reflected my personality and taste.  As orchestral player, I walk onstage with an opposite goal in mind: to avoid sticking out.  If I play a solo, it’s a big problem.  I’m either playing out of turn or playing differently than everyone else!  Orchestral playing requires a heightened awareness of the other players onstage, and, absolute commitment to uniformity at every level: in pitch, bow stroke, vibrato, rhythm, expression, and everything in between.   Although these elements play a key role in solo performance, orchestral performance requires skillful synchronization.
Orchestras are exceptionally dynamic organizations.
The modern symphony orchestra is one of the most dynamic music organizations in the community.  In addition to presenting world-class performances, orchestral organizations can make a positive impact on the community. During my time with the BSO, I have become convinced more than ever that orchestras can not only champion great music, but also unite diverse groups of people.  Orchestras can effectively bringing these initiatives to the forefront of music scene.  I am excited to be part of this dual mission and have a renewed purpose as a performer who hopes to make a difference in the world.

After many years, the violin is still my favorite toy!  Whether it is part of my journey to football, learning to play well with others, or discovering of a deeper purpose, it is an integral part of my adventures.  I can only imagine the beautiful sounds, wonderful people, and lessons that lie ahead!


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