Music to my ears, redux

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Five entries ago I wasted the title "Music to my ears." How could I have known then that Mike would decide to come home this weekend and take out his violin for the first time in three years?

He told me that he needs to write a piece of music for one of his Chinese language courses--strange, yes?--and that he was planning on taking both his violin and his guitar down to Charlottesville. He'd have to blow the dust off whichever instrument he chose to use. Since he hadn't played his violin for three years, I assumed he'd have forgotten how to hold it, much less how to play it. His guitar was abandoned more recently than the violin, so I recommended he use that.

He said he'd forgotten everything he'd learned about the guitar and would have to start from scratch. I pointed out that once a guitar is in tune, the fact that it has frets means you can't use it to sour milk, as can be done with the violin. Also, it doesn't really matter how you hold it, and plucking the strings with the fingers always produces a pleasant sound. The violin, on the other hand, can make a million different sounds, 900,000 of which are mind-bogglingly awful, half of which can cause actual pain to the ears.

Sunday afternoon I heard the soft strumming of the guitar, and it sounded nice. Good choice, I thought. Later, he got his violin out of the case and I braced myself for heartbreak. (Long story omitted here.) He started tuning it and the G string broke. I hunted around and found a spare in my own dusty violin case. It took him only a few minutes to remember how to put the new string on. I hunted for the tuner, found it, wiped thick dust off it, then discovered that, of course, the battery was dead. I hunted for a battery and found one. I handed him the tuner and left him alone in the living room. A few minutes later I heard the opening notes of Wieniawski's Legende. The intonation was good and so was the tone. I was stunned. I walked into the living room and stared in disbelief. That, dear reader, was music to my ears.

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August 2011

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