Growing Pains

2015 marks the first year in seven and a half years that I haven’t participated in orchestra. March 2015 marks the first month in 12 years and 8 months that I won’t be attending private violin lessons anymore.

Let me backtrack – I’m not writing this post for the purpose of receiving sympathy. While neither of those facts sound very pleasant, they were still my choices – choices I knew had repercussions the moment I made them.

My baby.
My baby. | Photo by Courtney Cheng

During the summer of high school graduation, I remember talking to a number of my friends who I’d met in various orchestras over the years. Some were graduating with me, others had graduated a year or a couple years prior. They all asked me if I had plans to continue playing violin in college.

“Of course,” I’d replied. “What about you?”

It was a mixed bag. Some were in the same boat as me – they’d played for long enough that it seemed too natural to continue into college, extracurricularly, whether or not we had intentions of becoming music majors. Others were more ambiguous, saying they’d decide depending on how much time they had after figuring out their school schedules and other extracurriculars. There were very few populating the third camp, people who already knew that their orchestral lives were reaching a definitive end.

I didn’t know how this third camp did it.

It’s only been a few months and days, respectively, since I’ve put an official end to my violin activities, but I can’t imagine it ever not making me feel sad if I think about it a little too hard.

No rosin in sight… Careful cleaning or cheating practice? | Photo by Courtney Cheng

This isn’t to say that I plan on completely ceasing to play the violin. That isn’t about to happen in a long shot—particularly after the parting words my teacher left with me at my last lesson this Wednesday.

But even with his words of advice and knowledge in mind, I have to be honest with myself. It’s easy to skip a day of practice, and it’s too easy to forget to play when the rest of my life is filled with midterms, with lectures, with friends, with homework, with chores and errands and (finding) me time.

I suppose now, with a few days for retrospect and introspection, this post is really just a way for me to hold myself accountable – much like my New Year’s post was – because I don’t think I’d ever be able to forgive myself if I let this one go.

As a hobby I fought to keep and found for myself at the age of seven (No, I did not in fact have the stereotypical American-born Chinese upbringing of being forced to learn a musical instrument. I suppose after I dropped out of Chinese school and piano lessons, my parents knew better than to force me into things, which ultimately led seven-year-old me on a year-long endeavor to convince my parents to let me play violin), I refuse to let myself get lazy and indulgent with my self-accountable practice routine.

This isn’t just because I would wallow in guilt for the rest of my life if I lost this routine, but also because I want to remain faithful to myself – my younger self who somehow knew that this would be a fight worth fighting.

P.S. Now would be a great time to intervene on my midterm insanity.


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