Gifts come in many forms

I’m sitting here in my office after six o’clock in the evening in the middle of December. I’m trying to get some year-end accounting done, while looking forward to a yoga class in about an hour.

My iPod was playing, but it just ran down to the last song on a playlist, so I’m left in the supposed silence.

Only instead of silence, I hear, coming from the violin studio next door to my office (we share a wall), shouting. Shouting interspersed with the sounds of a violin, but mostly shouting. That’s what makes the walls resonate.

It’s so loud, so profoundly disturbing, that I can no longer keep working on the accounting (which, I admit, is a tough one to hold my attention these days). When the music in my little office stopped, I was left to face the reality of the environment I am in.

To me, the shouting is a reminder of everything I am not, and wish not to become.

It is also a reminder that I am not a “violin teacher” nor do I wish to be called one.

It is a gift. When I moved into this studio last summer, after looking for more than six months for the perfect space in which to house the next stage for The Music Within Us, I promptly found out within the first week that “another violin teacher” would be renting the space next door.My first interactions with my neighbor set the tone of distaste. I’m glad I have met him, so I can put a face to the shouting voice I hear from the other side of the wall right now. “Passion” is not the word that comes to mind. “Intensity” maybe. Anger more likely. I can’t help but marvel at the fact that so many people sign up to get yelled at.

But I also know that to get to the pinnacle of “competitive violin” or “competitive anything”, most people need some yelling. We need to push ourselves beyond where we think we can’t go. To do the thing we think we cannot do.

The shouting – as the student continues playing – makes it sound a bit like an athletic event, like a basketball game with the coach pacing the sidelines and using cupped hands to call plays or encourage players. Well, sitting here and hearing the familiar sounds of Kreisler’s “Praeludium and Allegro”, interspersed with the booming of the teacher’s voice, I am reminded that I am not here to yell at anyone. It’s not how I wish to use my voice in this life. It may mean that I never witness “competitive” violinists emerging from my guidance. I have learned to be more than okay with that. The question remains whether there will be a place for my art as it is now being expressed. I am willing – no, very curious and excited – to ask that question.

Before I turn on my iPod again this occurs to me: I never thought that the wall I had put up – part of my pre-lease negotiations for this space – would in fact create a violin studio. Only not on my side of the wall.

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