MUSICAL MUSINGS: Little musicians drive (slightly) bigger musician crazy

When it comes to music, there are three things that frustrate me beyond belief:

1) People who paint their violins an obscene color such as hot pink or purple. Actually, playing on a violin painted any color is just depressing. Violin’s are made of wood. They are supposed to be brown, not fuschia.

2) Americans who pronounce the names of famous composers wrong.

3) Little 9-year-olds who can barely see over the music stand, yet still play the violin better after six years of practice than I do after 12 years.

Sadly, there’s nothing that I can do to change any of these.

For reasons that will never be known by me, some middle- and high-school students will always paint their violins unnatural colors.

In fact, I once saw two such players at a music festival in Vallejo. One’s violin was purple while the other’s was green.

I think what annoyed me even more was how the purple violin’s strings were being sawed at by a pink bow. I mean, seriously, at least make them match!

As for Mussorgsky and Mendelssohn, their names will forever be pronounced inaccurately by the average American. I must accept that no matter how many times I humbly correct those in the wrong, they will still pronounce Tchaikovsky incorrectly.

When it comes to the 4-foot-5-inch prodigies that inhabit every corner of the earth, I am completely helpless.

Possibly some of the most demoralizing beings in this world, these juvenile virtuosos are the reason I practice for hours a week.

A couple weeks ago, I went to a concert featuring some of America’s most talented young musicians. It’s actually an NPR radio show called “From the Top” that features primarily young musicians. I’ve been listening to the show for almost as long as I’ve been playing violin.

When it’s aired on the radio, though, it doesn’t really sink in how miniature some of these performers are.

There was one 11-year-old named Alex Zhou who played “Zigeunerweisen (“Gypsy Airs”) for Violin and Piano, Op. 20” by Sarasate.

His violin looked like a one-fourth size violin (by the way, violin sizing goes one-eighth, one-fourth, one-half, three-fourths, then full size). You may wish to note that I, a 5-foot-1 shortie, play on a full-size violin.

Not only was he short, he was also brilliant. If I had had my eyes closed for the performance, I would have thought I was listening to a professional.

After that concert I went home and lay in bed for an hour, vowing to practice more.

The next day I practiced for two hours straight.

When I was young, I hated practicing. I used to complain about 10 minutes of playing a couple of times a week. Now, looking back, I wish I had had the initiative to practice more.

Maybe I would’ve ended up on “From the Top.”

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