Welcome to Art's Articles for the Month of:
Languages are funny things.  Without them we can't communicate with one another, but it seems that sometimes we can't communicate with one another anyway.  And sometimes a language gets it just right.

I am privileged to understand three languages.

Spanish is the language I used when we lived in Mexico.  The language does not come easily to me.  Sometimes I get so frustrated with it or embarrassed by the mistakes I make that I hope to never hear it again. 

German is the language I love.  It just feels right to me. 

English is the language I use.  It is my mother tongue, but at times I am not sure that I understand it at all.  I don't know why the "ough" in cough, bough, tough, through and though all have different sounds.  I don't know why, " i before e except after c, or when sounded as 'a' as in neighbor or weigh."

But in this instance English (and, by the way, German) has it just right.  When I pick up my violin I "play" it.  I don't "touch" it as in Spanish.  I play.

It seems to me that "play" is the perfect word.  At least it should be the attitude that we have when we make music.

Sometimes we don't think of our practice time and our performances as "play," but let's look at my experience with the word play.

When I play soccer I get tired.  I have to think and strategize to defeat my opponent.  I have to do things which may be physically uncomfortable.  I feel frustration.  I feel joy.  I may be injured.  I have to practice to develop new skills, or even maintain the ones that I already have.  I have to cooperate with others to reach my goal. I achieve and I fail. 

And all of this, I say, is part of playing.

It is no different with my violin.  Every emotion, every responsibility, every experience that I listed in connection with
playing soccer applies equally well to playing violin.  Playing isn't always "fun," but I get joy from it.  Playing helps me grow.  Playing makes me stronger.  Playing refreshes my spirits.  Playing lets me step aside from the daily grind and mentally enter into a place that I love. 

As Summer is upon us, look at your chance to really
PLAY with your violin.  For many students it is a time without teachers.  It is a time when they can experiment.  It is a time that they can experience new facets of violin playing. 

Play your instrument.  Not just etudes, do something different.  Do something interesting. Bluegrass.  Cajun.  Jazz.  Rock.  Classical.  Do something that will make your teacher say, "Wow," when she hears you play again in the Fall.

And don't forget, you are not alone in this world.  Attend events where you can hear other people
play their instrument.  We all have different ways we play.  And I'm not really one to judge who plays right or who plays wrong.  The way you play is right for you.  I love playing classical.  Long, slow, lyrical and expressive really turns me on.  My new friend Mark is classically trained but plays a whole different style.  I can't play his way right now, but I'm sure thinking about how I can go about learning so that the next time we meet we can play together.

And do you know what?  We'll have fun doing it.  I'll envy him.  He'll laugh WITH me.  And the game of music will go on.

Truly PLAY your violin.