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Monday, June 17, 2013

No Strings Attached by John von Daler

                       I've seen all kinds of violins - and I've played them too: Chagall violins floating up in the clouds, Disney violins dancing all in a row, Dali violins all shrunken and creepy, Ponty el-violins like colored lollypops, Scandinavian fiddles ornamented like a mountain bride and one dark, old Romanian gypsy violin that played a Ceausescu blues with only one hair from the bow drawn back and forth across the strings.

                I've also heard the talk, good and bad, most of it just fiddle faddle: about sentimentality and genius and shrieking cats and sublimity. Some people even claim that it was no coincidence that Charlie Parker died the day after a recording session with violins.
                No matter. I love them. All of those strings.
                So it warms my heart when my grandson, not yet two years of age, comes up to me on his stocky little legs in a diaper and a t-shirt, and stands in front of the chair where I sit and work and behind which I hang my violin. He is a man of few words but many thoughts.
                First he points at the violin and I take it off the wall. Then he points at the bow and says, "Bawh!" I take it down and tighten it. Next he does the most marvelous thing: he spreads out his stocky little legs and in almost the same gesture as Thorvaldsen's Jesus holds his arms slightly out and down from his body, bent at the elbows with the palms of the hands turned up. Then he twirls the fingers on both hands as fast as he can and makes a swishing, airy, bubbly noise with his mouth: ssshhhwwwooossshhh!
                I have learned that this means Play! and Violin! and ultimately Grandfather! If we had lived in the year 800 my name would probably have been: He Who Taketh The Violin Off The Wall. I usually oblige him by playing. Sometimes he does a little dance with a lot of stomping to show his approval. He even cries if I stop too soon.
                I've retired from playing professionally, so he's the only person I ever play for anymore. I bet he will want to play in a few years. Such is life with stops and starts. As far as I'm concerned he can do what he wants, no strings attached. His grandfather just wants him to thrive, to take off into life. 

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