15 minutes of jazz

An Essay By Ben // 8/29/2001

Dear Homeschooling Friends,

I'm sitting here, listening to jazz through some speakers I set up around our computer. The violin - my violin - is resting on my arm, while the bow relaxes on my lap. I've been practicing.

The wood of my violin is chipped and worn in places, but it glows in the dim light from some inner life, old but merry, laughing and bittersweet. The black finger board shows a thousand fingerprints - the history and seal proving the hours I and others have played it.

Don't laugh when I say that when I play my violin, it really is "we" and not just me fiddling with a peice of wood and a lock of horse hair. Flowing between me and the crafted wood emerges a song combining our personalities and characteristics. Just as with humans, there are no two violins formed or shaped exactly alike. So, when the two of us, each a unique creation, come together... something never heard or born before courses through the air and takes life.

Wood and man speak together. Add the horse hair stringing my bow, and you have the ingredients of many an ancient myth: man, tree, and horse all in the same thought. The remembering tree, sucking nourishment from the soil; the horse rippling and flying over a spinning world; the man or woman sitting cross-legged on the sand, gazing at the grasping waves and glimmering moonlight: that's the violin in the hands of an artist.

Whenever anyone plays an instrument, the same thing happens to them. Something beautiful (hopefully) flows from the combination of man and earth, man and animal. Many a starry night have I sat on the grass, or stood on some porch, playing the violin. Some of my best memories from last year are mirrored when I look down at my violin. They were spent playing - alone or with friends. It was those nights that send shivers through my memory, not the nights I tried to find entertainment at parties or watching movies. There are just times (I don't know why they come or go) when playing music touches some inner nerve, and suddenly you know you're participating in something much bigger than yourself or your time. A thousand years ago someone might have stood at the very spot where you stand, and sung to the same stars you admire. A thousand years from your time, someone may do the same again. But, it doesn't make you feel insignificant or gloomy. You know that you and your song are unique, and they are important to those before and after you. That sad note you play, or that wild dancing melody you fiddle, have departed from you and flow out to all times and places - they fulfill and become part of the great plan....

Hopefully, you're not too worried about my sanity after reading this. I'm not too pleased with my description, myself. Still, the feeling or sense is real. And surely my violin understands my thoughts. Isn't that right my friend - my violin?
Yes... pretend I didn't just say that.

Enjoy apricot!



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