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"Buy the bow that speaks to you."
Sometimes breaking a few rules can lead to a lot of good music.
SO, few months back, I was at Metzler Violin Shop in Glendale—one of my favorite music stores—to have my student bow rehaired. It’s not a great bow—but it was the bow I learned on, so I’ll keep it forever.
Anyway, while there, I thought I might try some different instruments and bows. The folks there are always super nice—even to a neophyte like me.
And I kind of fell in love.
Not with a violin—though there were some excellent instruments—but with a bow. It was a model called the Diamond GX, from CodaBow, who makes carbon fiber and other such composites.
This is considered a semi-professional/professional-level violin bow—waaaaay out of my league—and I felt kind of wrong even considering it.
Some of it was my own doubt, but to be honest, this didn’t come from nowhere—I had been told in the past that my violin was “too much instrument for me,” and that my attitude and way of learning “disrespected violinists."
But the bow felt amazing—so much better than the bows that I should have been considering. It was fun and playful and seemed to always be in the right place at the right time.
And it was used, so it was kind of on sale?
Then, a cool professional cellist named Cameron, who just happened to be in the store, overheard my backs-and-forths and said "buy the bow that speaks to you."
So, I screwed up my courage and got it.
And I swear, my bow gives me joy every day.
It's like I can feel how happy it is when we tackle new music, or try a different dynamic or go back to a passage to get the notes just right...
And wow… I feel my sound evolving...don’t ask me how, but over time it's becoming richer, more alive. It's hard to explain, but it’s like the sound is going from particle board to plywood to real wood—like it’s getting a grain…
I think about this as I teach writing and martial arts. We can have a rigid idea of how one should learn—and yes, fundamentals are fundamentals.
But people learn in different ways, in different orders.
If they are having joy and are motivated to practice every day and are building a technique and style that won’t hurt them? And if that practice gives them meaning and goals and fulfillment?
ANYWAY, it is August, but it’s raining here in Los Angeles—Tropical Storm Hilary—and it might get worse and we might lose power.
I have extra water, my phone is charged, I have backup batteries and Pop Tarts and energy bars if I can't open the fridge...
And even if the lights go out, you might hear me, my violin, and my bow playing by ear…
After all, sometimes music sounds best when it is played in the dark.
ps—Cameron, if you ever read this, THANK YOU!!!!