Thursday, June 17, 2010

Why build violins (II)

The violin is loaded with mystique. If you want to write a romance, you’ll get more readers with “The Red Violin” than with “The Red Trombone.” It’s understandable, then, why people can be seduced or possessed by violins. This seems to have happened to more than one participant in the Southern California Violin Builders’ Workshop. L., who had no musical background, had an intensely vivid dream in which she could play the violin. She started taking lessons, and before long became seized by the idea of building a fiddle. J also had an epiphany. Having raised and homeschooled her children, she was at a point where she was at a loss for what to do—she didn’t call it a midlife crisis, but it sounded sort of like Dante’s mezzo cammin. One day she visited a luthier’s shop, and it just hit her that this is what she must do. For her, the atmosphere of the shop combined with the aura of the product proved overwhelming.

L. and J. are here at the workshop. L. is in a constant state of amazement; before her dream, she knew little of tools and woodworking, let alone violin building. She’s definitely happy on her quest, though, moving slowly, cheerfully receiving lots of help, and making great strides. J. is working on her eighth violin. She’s still learning, but works in a professional manner (though she occasionally gets vocally frustrated with a recalcitrant piece of wood).

Passion will take you odd and interesting places. When it comes as a bolt from the blue, it can make your life jump sideways. I’d be willing to bet that before their epiphanies, both L. and J. had absolutely no idea where they would be now; I also think that they’re pretty happy with it. I know that when I met the love of my life, things moved in different and unexpected directions—heck, here I am building a violin, and that certainly wasn’t in the long-term vision statement back in 1990. But, I’m happy with it.

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