I emailed Miss Claire from the ER. A broken arm. So many things go through your mind when something like this happens. Though it would be awkward, I knew my young violinist would figure out how to eat and write with her left hand for a while, but how do you play the violin with no bow hand? The doctors were talking 10-12 weeks of recovery time, which seemed like an eternal “violin vacation”, ripe with regressing about 6 months and the frustration (for both me and my daughter) that went along with it. Ugh.
Violin had been going so well lately, too. She loved the current piece she was working on and was excited to play the whole thing at her next lesson. She had just started playing duets over the summer with a friend from group class. I guessed all of that would come to a screeching halt for a while.
Within two hours Claire had emailed me back with a half a dozen things we could do and a promise to reach out to her colleagues to find more. Two days later we went to her lesson. I was shocked at how we spent the full 45 minutes doing real violin activities. With one hand. We walked out with a full practice sheet.
We are now 2 weeks into it and have had some interesting revelations:
1. It is a refreshing break to be forced to change our practice format. We’re making little to no progress on Suzuki and I’m sure I’d be singing a different tune had this happened three weeks before a recital. However, in the summer it’s fun to go back and do some GDG or some Ant Song while trying a little more advanced plucking technique.
2. Doing the left hand only and singing on review songs does help to keep them fresh. Sometimes I even catch her moving the bow arm at the same time, kind of like a dog would move his leg when you scratch him in just the right spot. It shows how connected the whole body is when learning to play the violin. Somehow I like to think that is keeping the bowing fresh on some level.
3. Writing words to songs is therapeutic. When we hear emphatic renditions of “I do not like my BUST-ed arm” to the tune of Minuet No. 3 floating through the house, we know she is venting a frustration with her current limitation.
4. It is quickly becoming a guilty pleasure how much I enjoy doing the bow part for her during certain exercises. After being a spectator and home coach for over a year while we both learn how the violin works, it’s fun to take part in the music!
5. My doing the bow takes the pressure off her a bit because if we mess up there is at least 50% chance that it’s my fault. Instead of getting stuck in the place where “I’m horrible and I can’t do it”, we can quickly blame me and move on to giving it another try.
6. I daresay she enjoys being able to boss me around a bit for a change when it comes to the bow. She says “Mommy – make that a good martele!” or tells me which strings to bow on when I mess up, as if it should be the simplest thing in the world.
Would I choose to have my sweet girl break her arm and embark on this violin detour? Of course not, but we are making the best of it. I’m waiting for the day when it’s a distant memory and we can say, “Remember when you broke your arm in the middle of Suzuki Book 1?”.