There's always been something about this boy that has attracted people to him. Not in a brash way. He's the kid you notice after you've noticed the more 'out there' kids in a group, the one that piques your curiosity and makes you wonder what's going on inside him. He comes across as intelligent, sensitive and kind, and you worry that maybe he's a little vulnerable. Despite being introverted he doesn't carry a wall of ego-protectiveness around with him like some of his other family members do. I'm not sure that he is particularly vulnerable -- he's a strong kid with a pretty solid sense of who he is and what's important (and, as a corollary, what's not worth worrying about). But he's such a good kind person that people, especially those with maternal tendencies, often find their protective instincts aroused.
So that's the type of boy he is, and that's the kind of effect he has on people. And when you hand a boy like this a viola in a musical sea of violinists, you magnify the effect. He's not the bright flashy melody in ensembles. He's the sound that's deep inside the music, that helps create a foundation, that responds to the music around him, supporting and compensating, helping it all work without calling attention to himself. But if you watch and listen specifically to him, and tune in to that viola sound, you're amazed. He's there, with everyone else, fitting in beautifully, but at the same time he's different. He's immensely intriguing, but in an understated way.
All of which led him to be the one kid out of the mass of string players at the music festival who got plucked out for special attention. The adjudicator loved him. Too much, I think. We were all a little uncomfortable with the magnitude of the praise and attention, which was to some extent at other students' expense. I wish it hadn't been quite so blatant, but it's water under the bridge now.
Nevertheless I think he has passed a crucial landmark as a violist this year. He is now reaching a level advanced enough to be capable of playing exciting chamber music, and has the musicality and ensemble skills that will carry him far. And because he's a violist, he's going to be in demand. There are never enough violists to go around. He's already been recruited for a summer school orchestra this August, knows he's almost sure to be assigned to the most advanced string quartet at our Suzuki Institute this summer, is the viola section leader in our community orchestra, is likely to be recruited to round out a student string quartet in the third music summer school week, and has been asked to provide a viola presence as a soloist at a regional showcase concert tomorrow. It has begun.