The more music I play, the less I can grasp how transformative it is. The more I play, the less I can keep from grinning. It feels like I’m picking up my violin for the first time again. Perhaps the opposite. I am some subjective strain of a musician who pursues this history with the excitement of a beginner, and plays as if it is the last time.
As orchestras prepared for their summer hiatus, the close of spring brought a lot of lasts to me. Saying goodbye to my university’s orchestra before graduation, watching my friends’ last recitals, putting my violin in the car when I was moving away from security that took years to build and not knowing what was coming next.
Last weekend, I got to pack my instrument back in the car to perform in Ocala. It was like stepping in the best time machine. Old friends, demanding music, a safe space to set aside things in my life that remain unknown, and an enthused audience that applauded while I choked back a few tears.
I feel lucky, and a little dirty, that I fell into a skill set that allows me to experience something that not everyone gets to. While life has been foggy and various entities seem to slip underneath me, being a part of music is an IV of dopamine. Now, definitely. But also rewind the past 13 years. (I have now spent more years of my life playing violin than not.)
It has given me everything. One way or another, truly. The exchange is so unfair, it is ridiculous.
What can I give music in return, except profuse thank yous until the day I die? In addition to the built-in performance elements, like trying for a damn musical interpretation and the gift of passing it to others. But what is that to infusing a life with friendships, loves, mentors, and fundamentally changing the nature of that person’s emotional expression?
There are a few things that bring us into our true selves.
Music sends me there.
Featured image: Emily Graves, violinist, Tampa area. I took this photo during her undergraduate recital at the University of Florida.