Playing the Violin Vicariously

My son started playing the violin last May. I felt nervous about it. The violin appeared to me a bewildering instrument requiring great hand dexterity and supreme hearing. I couldn’t quite understand why Uri chose it. I wished he’d pick something simpler, better suited for quick rewards and success.

Turns out Uri is very good at playing the violin. He has been progressing steadily, grasping new notes and concepts swiftly, and even better, he enjoys practicing and is conscientious about it.

I enjoy sitting through Uri’s violin lessons and listening to the teacher’s directions, praise and corrections. At home, when Uri practices, I sit at the piano as he stands over my shoulder with his violin poised. I help him make sure he plays the notes accurately. Surprisingly, the source of turning his practice time and the lessons into a mommy-and-me effort came from Amy Chua, the Tiger Mom.

In contrast to Amy Chua’s arduous practices with her daughter, we only play for fifteen minutes at a time at home. We even get up if we want a snack, water, or to go to the bathroom. What I learned from Ms. Chua was having faith in my son and his abilities, and the importance of giving due attention to his projects and providing him with the encouragement necessary for him to succeed. By sitting with him, I let him know that his playing the violin is more important to me than washing dishes, folding laundry, or cooking. I give him support in his efforts to master this complex instrument, and I give him another incentive to practice — after all, how often do we get to spend one-on-one time just the two of us?

As an added bonus, I’m learning a lot vicariously through him. I’m learning to trust Uri that he knows what’s best for him and what he can do, and that the stars are the limit when he wants something and is willing to put in the effort, even if it’s difficult and requires a longer time commitment to do.

And maybe, as a result, I’ll be a bit better myself in the wanting-instant-gratification space. Maybe I’ll learn to invest the time and the effort to gain the rewards I seek. Like in my writing, for example, or this blog, or painting, or singing. After all, the stars are the limit for me too.

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Sigal Tzoore (650) 815-5109