Half past nine. The neighbours are out to their offices, but you still have little time until you need to run. The violin case stands in the corner of the room. Sometimes you feel like playing is such a burden. Other times it fills you with joy. How will it be today? You don’t know. Not yet. You take the case carefully; the instrument inside is very precious. To you, personally. Slide two zippers and open it. Take away the orange cloth all covered in rosin stains. One day you will clean it, but for now, you put it aside.
Soft silk covers the violin. The wood imitates a look of an old instrument, although this one isn’t. It was crafted at a factory, little personal touch, little personal work. You are the one who makes it unique. Unlock the bow holder and take it out cautiously. Feel the little uneasiness in your hand. It happens every time. A pluck of horse tail, some wood and metal strings together make a gentle melodic combination. Only if you are determined enough to guide it.
Carefully take the violin out of the case and attach the shoulder rest. A bit too harsh. You tell yourself to be more careful next time but still rush this moment. Every time the violin is not in the case and not yet under your chin, you feel uneasy and try to scurry it. A small pocket houses a tuner, you take it and attach carefully. G-D-A-E. Your ear isn’t perfect, you prefer characters, words, but characters don’t turn into music in your head and you need music to write. It’s an infinite loop, an endless struggle. You pluck the rightmost string carefully and the tuner wiggles its pointer to E. Everything is finely tuned, you move on to the next string and turn the knob a bit — you know it’s loose and the tuner confirms it.
A daily ritual, movements that you repeat over and over in a little haste. You want to put the bow on the strings. Everything you did before is for that moment.
Screeeeeech. The hand wasn’t steady enough; the sound is awful. You try to wiggle your ear but you can’t. This body of yours, it can’t wiggle ears no matter how hard you try. You need to be more careful. More determined. Take to bow off, relax your wrist. Think of your long fingers holding the wood. They are too tense. Close your eyes, focus on them one by one, feel the grip, relax it to a proper position. Slowly rest the bow on the strings again.
Play a single note. The pitch is about right; you bow down, then up, smiling. It sounds just as you expected, just as it is in your head. The note drifts suddenly and you open the eyes, staring at the point where the bow meets the string. Your left hand relaxed too much; violin tilted down, and the bow moved off the sweet spot. Playing with closed eyes is hard. A little moment of irritation when you want to move your ears again. A strange reflex that body cannot fulfil.
Go on, move the bow up and down, switch from one string to another. Rosin dust builds on them; the sounds become softer, deeper, more precise. You don’t feel the hands; you don’t need to; you follow the tune in your mind and the sound of violin matches it. Something simple to start with: twinkle, twinkle, little star. The melody unfolds as you hop into a faster tune, a happy Irish jig. You want to dance around, but it’s too much of a strain, you lose the balance and the bow slips off again.
Look at yourself in the mirror. Check if your shoulders are positioned right. Sigh. Then smile. The body feels awkward, almost like if it wasn’t yours. But the sound is perfect. It matches to the tune deep in your soul. Let it out. It’s hard; you can’t even hold the fingers in proper places of the fingerboard. Calm down, don’t rush it. Take it slowly. You know this melody; you wrote it yourself. Let it play through you, through this uncomfortable body, into the instrument and away, fill the room, hop over to balcony and play, play, let nothing to be between you and the music today!
The alarm clock says it’s time to pack for the office. The clock is merciless. Its sound is blunt. Clean the instrument gently. Put the bow down and relax your hands. Tired, but satisfied.