As I wrote last March, Erin's violin teacher, with whom she had been studying for just a few months and had been just beginning to gel, retired unexpectedly, leaving her without a teacher in the region. She's not a self-structuring "driven" music student at this point. Heck, she's thirteen -- it'll probably come, but she's young. She works consistently when she has a teacher-student relationship she's comfortable with and committed to, but it takes her a while to get to that stage with someone new. To find her someone experienced at her level would require a minimum 3 1/2 hour drive, something we'd be unable to do on a weekly basis. Maybe monthly, but at that frequency how long would it take her to get comfortable, and how often would she practice? I resolved to wait and see how her inclinations panned out over the next six months or so, especially after the music summer school weeks that we're now in the thick of. Since then she's been coasting along, practicing every once in a while, playing with the community orchestra or the Osprey String Quartet at rehearsals and performances, but not really doing any work to speak of. She began, for the first time, to express a preference for one instrument over the other: piano over violin.
I've had a long time to mull this over and have reached a few conclusions. First, this kid is a musician right down to her bones. Not just because she's been steeped in it, but because of who she is. She's bright, intense, intuitive, passionate, and music has become her voice and a strong part of her identity. On the other hand, she does have the piano still, and has reached a level on violin where she can continue to play easily at a recreational level -- and that would be okay. But the biggest realization has been that if the violin drops off her horizon, it will be simply for the lack of a musical relationship with someone significant outside the family. She has everything going for her on violin, this kid -- technique, instincts, astonishingly efficient sight-reading and note-learning ability, a love of chamber music, brilliant ensemble-style musical responsiveness, musicality oozing out her pores. All that's missing to carry her to a very high level is a relationship with someone out there, some musical commitment or pursuit that is not organized or directed or taught by a family member -- not by her mother, not by her grandmother, not by her aunt -- to inspire her to make this area of study her own. Just one long-term connection wit hone teacher or mentor, and she would jump right in with both feet and get on with it with a high level of commitment and exceptional ability. Almost every other violin student has this. Is it really so much to ask for?
Her Beethoven string quartet playing last week was jaw-droppingly brilliant. Her coaches and teachers were raving about her abilities. She had a wonderful time musically and socially and told me that she wants to come back to SVI in 2008 so badly that she figures she'd better find herself some violin lessons. She also said that violin is now her favourite instrument.
So where, where oh where do we find her this relationship with a teacher? Oh, and she also needs a full-sized violin if she's going to carry on. She's pretty much outgrown her wonderful three-quarter size. If only life were simpler!