Why Violin?

New York City and Beyond
In the 1960’s Leonard Bernstein conducted the famous Young People’s Concerts at Philharmonic Hall in NYC. I was  one of the children in those Saturday audiences unaware that my earliest musical education had begun under the baton and teaching of a national treasure!

At age ten, I began my violin studies along with about twenty other children in our fifth grade class. Our teacher was a violinist with the New York Philharmonic, and we were all started on a string instrument. Music was a part of the everyday classroom, and later that classroom included Carnegie Hall, Town Hall and Lincoln Center. These were the concert venues for the two city youth orchestras I belonged to, the New York Youth Symphony under the prestigious conductor; Isaiah Jackson, and NY's All City Orchestra.  

At fourteen I auditioned and was accepted into the famous High School of Performing Arts. The movie “Fame” (1980, 2009) and the TV series was about this extraordinary school. The very walls of the old pre-war building on 46th street in NYC vibrated with a creative exuberance that spilled out into the community. Alumni of the Music and Art and Performing Arts schools are all over the world today teaching, performing and building that same passion for creative living in the lives of others.

My years there were both exciting and tumultuous, for this was during the Viet Nam war and the civil rights movement. I recall many dance, drama and musical events, which our school staged throughout the city reflecting the issues of the day. Throughout history, the tragedies and the victories of a people in any culture have been voiced through the arts, and in our own times of national unrest, we used creative endeavors to express our ideals.

Being a musician can place one right in the center of extraordinary performers. During my twenties, I performed with orchestras who had guest artists such as Pearl Bailey, comedienne and pianist Phyllis Diller, and composer Aaron Copeland. I have played where the Grand Canyon was the background of an outdoor stage, in wonderful halls in big cities, and on temporary stages in a third world country. I will always love small, intimate coffee houses where people come to hear music played in a more intimate setting. The musician truly has few boundaries or limitations, and there are so many lives a performer can touch.

A young man who knew this was a student of the Julliard School of Music in NYC in 2001. He showed up with his violin in the middle of the makeshift rest areas for the fire and policemen after 9/11. He played for hours; healing, soothing, and encouraging those who were overburdened and overwhelmed. What a gift he gave!

When we begin an instrument, we ourselves are first given that precious gift of making music, and soon we can give it to others at any stage of the journey. There is no more expressive instrument to do it with than the violin, but the adventure for any musician is like an unfinished symphony that we keep composing, all while we are playing the music.

Enjoy the symphony!