The gift of music

As I practice my mind begins to wander and to wonder. Why am I practicing? Why am I not focussed? The year since my mother’s passing is almost upon me and I struggle to remember the details of her face, her Italian accent, her soft gnarled hands. I recall her frustrations with aging and arthritis and her inability to play piano like she used to.

I go back in my memory to the times when I was forced to practice. There was always the daily reminder of this task and how I hated it but always did as I was told. I never felt like I was mastering this crazy instrument. There was always something to improve, something to work on. How I wanted to be perfect from the beginning or within a reasonable time. Of course, these goals never were attained. Even when audiences clapped and I bowed, I felt it could have been better. Why was this so hard?

I hit high school like a wrecking ball taking down a building. There was so much work and violin fell into the background. I tried to keep it up but it was so uncool. People taunted and teased me about classical music and that strange instrument. Weakened and confused, I fell to peer pressure and stopped playing for many years. I felt so free. My mother was not pressuring me and I did not have to spend time practicing at something I knew I would never be sufficiently good at. After all, I was not going to be a professional violinist, was I?

Suddenly in my 20s I woke up one morning with a stark realization that something was missing. I was not sure what it was but somehow, I gravitated towards my violin case. I opened the aging dilapidated case and saw a thing of beauty. I could not remember seeing the exquisiteness in that instrument. I picked it up along with the bow and ran the smooth horsehair over the strings. It was extremely out of tune. Like I had never put it down, I tuned it up and generated a few tunes that I had slavishly memorized over the years. It felt so good. That warm vibration from the strings that I could feel under my fingers of my left hand moved right down to my toes. My heart was dancing. I was really happy. I don’t remember feeling this way ever.

I immediately went in search of my music books to find more pieces to play and soon enough several hours had passed. When had I had so much fun? My mother came down with such a look of surprise and pleasure on her face. I treasure that moment.

From that time on, I began part 2 of my violin journey. Since I was an adult, I could impose my own rules for practice and lessons. It felt right and I was joyous.

So now, as I pause in my practicing and think of my mother and her love of music, I have to thank her for the gift she gave me. I am the recipient of years of lessons and structure. I gained skills and experience that, without my mother, I would not have today. So Mom, from up there in the sky, I feel your smiles shining on me when I play and teach the violin. Thank you for the gift of music. I miss you.

Miriam Gibb

Miriam has been playing classical violin since the age of four. She started her lessons with the Suzuki Music School in Calgary and carried on with this method in Vancouver. As Miriam advanced, she continued with the Royal Conservatory of Music, completing Grade 9 along with theory. With a passion for performance, Miriam joined the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra and later the Burnaby Symphony Orchestra. She has performed with various mixed instrument ensemble groups at the Shadbolt Centre in Burnaby and at other private functions. Miriam believes that continuing to learn is the key to providing a solid teaching foundation. Recently, in addition to her classical studies, Miriam has been pursuing jazz violin. Miriam participates in the Douglas College summer jazz intensive, and has performed at the Gallery Café in Port Moody. Miriam is also advancing her studies in the jazz genre on the piano. As well, Miriam is an accomplished vocalist. She has achieved Bachelor degrees in Psychology and Education (including teacher accreditation) from the University of British Columbia.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Susan

    What a wonderful gift your mother gave you! She would be very proud of you continuing to inspire your students.

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