Fiction on Odyssey: Alien
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Fiction on Odyssey: Alien

My introduction to the violin is quite similar to meeting an alien.

Fiction on Odyssey: Alien

Learning a new skill, particularly at a young age, can be strange, intimidating, and even frightening. Whether it be a sport, cooking, or any other kind of talent, people experience learning in many different ways. Knowing this, I wonder if anyone else treated their new violin as though it were an alien?



I didn't like the look of it at first. The harsh lights of the little orchestra room set the instrument's strings aglow, the bright orange sheen of its wood leaving a blinding glare. I didn't understand all of its myriad whorls and curves, and my hands felt clumsy and strange as they tried to navigate something that seemed bigger than all the world. It was only the first day of orchestra class, and I could tell from my fellow classmates' faces that they all shared my sentiment so far--we hated it.


In those beginning weeks, I was convinced my instrument had a mind of its own. Every time I hoisted it dutifully onto my shoulder, something was poking or prodding me. The inky black chinrest that helped me pin the violin between my jaw and shoulder was harder than stone, making my mouth ache. The strings bit into my fingers mercilessly, goading me to make sound. It was practically voicing its own indifference toward me, as if saying, "I like you no more than you like me." The violin was big, heavy, more alien than anything I'd ever experienced, and I hated it.


Finally! The day arrived when I no longer needed to pluck the strings with my finger. Now, I could use the infamous bow, the telltale weapon of a classical musician. Our bows had been prohibited by the teacher in that first month or so, as we learned to associate the notes on the page to those on our strings. Excited though I was for it, I hadn't realized until holding it in my little palm for the first time that it was longer than my arm. My teacher demonstrated a special handhold for it, showing us where to place the bow on the instrument and how to balance its weight with our arm. Naturally, I struggled with controlling it. When I dragged the bow hairs across my strings, all I managed to make was a harsh squealing sound. My violin and I finally had something we agreed on--we both hated the bow.


Orchestra class started out normally that morning; we learned new rhythms and scales, worked on technique with the bow, and participated in our second round of sight reading (which, of course, I was no good at). However, something changed when we finally started rehearsal on a piece we were playing for our first concert. My bow miraculously sounded less scratchy against the strings, and the flow of the notes, for a brilliant instant, all made sense.

My fingers knew exactly where to go, well enough so I could listen to the music without worrying about my hand. Despite the fact we were reading a language nobody spoke, and relied on these odd, alien creators of sound, we were in sync! In that moment, we soared against the gray bellies of the clouds, glimpsing the world through a sonorous buzz of light and melody. That day, I realized I'd never truly hated orchestra, or my violin, or my bow. I think even from the beginning, I had always loved it. My existence had a perfect, unerring line of purpose, and it was solely to continue searching, striving, and fighting for that beautiful moment among the clouds.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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