Two young sisters played the the violin and viola at my church this morning. They were pretty good. Not remarkable by any stretch, but talented enough to get me thinking about my own little trip down the path of fiddling.
I was flipping channels sometime back in 2003 or 2004 when I happened upon an PBS special featuring a Canadian fiddling group called Barrage. They were fantastic, and if you've never seen or heard them I highly recommend that you give them a listen. They did one particular number during the show called 'Mountain Spring' that struck me as so beautiful that I decided I had to learn to play the violin.
The Mrs. got me a fiddle for my birthday and I started trying to teach myself the rudiments of fiddling with a couple of DVDs and instruction books. It was a slog. The violin is not an easy instrument to master. When you're trying to learn it on the cheap without benefit of one-on-one attention from a skilled teacher, it's even harder. I ran out of patience before I got very far along. The problem was that I couldn't stand the sounds I was making.
A well played violin is sweetness itself. The tones elicit an emotional response that we humans would scarcely be able to replicate without the dulcet resonance of a good fiddle. A well played violin can make women weep and strong men go weak in the knees.
Mine was not so powerful, and never so skillfully bowed. Mine made a sound that was most reminiscent of an asthmatic cat having its feet severed with a rusty saw. The sounds I was able to get out of my violin elicited an emotional response in me that has only been duplicated by sitting with my wife and watching episodes of 'The Real Housewives of [Insert the city of your choice. They're all equally strident.].