Off With Her Fingernails!

Just as well my violin teacher is nice. After all, if she was anything like the Queen of Hearts, she would’ve cut my fingernails off with a guillotine weeks ago. Too bad if she also took off my fingertips! The Queen of Hearts doesn’t care about little details like that! If you refuse to cut your own nails, you pay the price.

All this is rather new to me. Although I am heading down the other side of 40+, I’ve only been playing the violin for a few years. Indeed, I only took it up after sitting in on my 5 year old daughter’s lessons. After she quit mid-term, I kept going. That was four years ago.

What nobody tells you about taking up an instrument is that so many of them require you to cut your nails. Seriously, cut your nails so there’s no clicketty clack all over the piano keys and if you’re playing any stringed instrument, so you can play the notes. Trust me! You want to play in tune and that means no nails. Not even the hint of a fingernail.

There is no middle ground.

So, even if you’re half-serious about playing the violin, you need short nails…especially on your left hand. It’s the same with the guitar.

That’s just the price you have to pay.

When you‘re a serious musician, you don’t even think about cutting off all those precious fingernails. No regrets. You just want to make music.

Of course, if you have crappy nails, it doesn’t matter either. You have nothing to lose.

However, when you finally have beautiful, long, strong nails for the very first time in your life, you hang onto them for as long as you possibly can. Cutting them off almost feels like murder.

So, despite being back at violin lessons for three weeks, I still haven’t trimmed my nails. I’m still hanging on!

It’s not that I’m vain or even fancy myself as a bit of a Princess. I’d just like to pretend I was Sweet 16 again. Be pretty!

Surely, there’s nothing wrong with that?!!

Yet, there comes that point where things no longer compute. You can’t call yourself a violinist when you can’t hit a note and you’re playing out of tune.

When your violin is how your express the inner beatings of your heart and those notes are infused with such emotion, even the best set of fingernails can’t stand in the way forever. They have to go. They might look good but if you’ve ever heard fingernails scraping down a blackboard, you know they can’t sing!

However, while I can sort of justify the long nails and dreadful playing to myself, it’s quite another thing to face up for yet another lesson with super long nails and painful playing. After all, I’m paying for these lessons and they don’t come cheap.

Either I shape up, or I ship out.

Deferring the inevitable only makes it worse.

So, it’s off with my nails!

If only that’s all it took to make it all the way to the Opera House!

xx Rowena


18 thoughts on “Off With Her Fingernails!

  1. New Journey

    Being a piano player, you can at least get by with a little nail, but I am guessing the violin is no nails…its for a good cause, the love of music…I love the horn…and yes it looks bigger than her.,,,but that’s what I love about her…she isn’t to scared to try….good for her!!! We seen on the news the other day a small girl was bitten and killed by one of your countries black snakes….so sad….all I could think about your last vacation to the Bay and you saw the same snakes….gives me the chills……hope you having a fantastic week and I have switched to iced coffee this week…int he 90’s….only gonna get hotter…lol xxkat.

  2. derrickjknight

    In the 1980s, when I was running marathons, A leading woman runner was reported as having her toenails removed before a race, because she, like many others, would lose them anyway

  3. roweeee Post author

    Ouch, Derrick. That sounds awful!!!
    What was it like to go in a marathon? That’s way out of my league. A friend runs half marathons and I’m so impressed. She loves running.

  4. Midwestern Plant Girl

    Ha ha! For a joke, I should walk in to a violin class with my daggers and see the wide eyes on the teacher!
    Flute and singing were my talents. No issue about nails for either.

  5. thatmusicaltheatrenerd

    I study music at university and my piano teacher STILL has to nag me to cut my nails, because I always forget and quite like growing them long! I play the violin too (well, I used to, I’m not sure how good I’d be now) so I can relate to this a lot! Best of luck with your future musical endeavours 🙂

  6. ferranwright

    My compromise is close as possible trimmed nails on the left and nice long ones for bowing hand. ( I think our teacher might have mentioned that they were ment to be short during the holidays as well?;-) unfortunately being right handed, long nails arnt so practical for my other hobbies. But what’s a bit of dirt and paint and dough under the nails? Playing out if tune and scratchy vabrato however.

    I was sorry not to be able to catch up with you at ensemble but am pleased that you. are still persevering with your playing. I hope to be able to see you around sometime. Did mr and misses pass on my hellos via scouts? Wishing you all the best, Ferran

  7. roweeee Post author

    I love the story of the tongue piercing.
    Have you read “The Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. He looks at the talent vs hard work/opportunity aspects of success. There is definitely a lot to be said for being in the right place at the right time.
    I have wondered how people take up less conventional instruments and from seeing my daughter pick up the Baritone Horn through the school band, it’s starting to fall into place.

  8. roweeee Post author

    Thanks, Ferran. I am feeling a bit relieved not to be doing ensemble this term. The kids are both needing quite a lot of support with their new schools and adjusting and we’re still getting sorted. It’s been so hot and today I moved a table into our lounge room so they can do their homework with the air-con on. They both have NAPLAN coming up too.
    Amelia has re-acquainted herself with the violin. She’s joined a string group at school and has also picked up the Baritone Horn and has given me a few lessons. I was surprised to be able to play a note on it given my lung issues.
    Amelia’s string group will be playing at the Opera House later in the year. I am naturally very jealous but it’s just the carrot she needs to get her practicing.
    How are you going? What are you up to this year? I have been meaning to drop a memory stick off to your Dad down the street from the concert.
    Of course, the kids forgot to pass on your message so I will give them a message in the morning!
    Take care and I hope to catch up soon.
    xx Ro

  9. roweeee Post author

    Cheeky! Do you still play the flute and sing? I love singing but it’s not always possible and the violin has become my surrogate voice. I played piano and a little flute growing up but prefer the violin. It’s apparently the instrument which most closely resembles the human voice. Hope you have a great weekend xx Rowena

  10. thatmusicaltheatrenerd

    Glad you’re getting into musical theatre! I really enjoyed your post about Matilda – it’s such a brilliant show and I’m so glad that audiences from all over the world are getting to see it now 🙂

  11. roweeee Post author

    I think it’s interesting to read about shows from different perspectives. I’m pretty new to musical theatre and was there more as a parent, which is quite a different perspective to say what you would offer. I think it’s great for professionals to hear how the audience perceives things. It’s great to keep the diologue open and I really appreciated reading insights into what the creators were thinking.

  12. Midwestern Plant Girl

    Huh, that’s pretty interesting about the relationship of the violin and the voice. I don’t play flute anymore, but sing daily… whether my audience wants to hear it or not 😲 At least my dogs don’t howl when I do! Ha ha!

  13. roweeee Post author

    Wish I could send you that laugh…Ha! Ha! Lady wasn’t too happy when Miss started playing her Baritone Horn last week. I think it reminded her of thunder.
    Speaking of Lady, neighbours let off fire works last night and I couldn’t find her straight off when I put Bilbo to bed. My son told me this morning that he was having trouble sleeping last night and then he heard the whack whack whack of Lady’s tail and she was in his bed. I think she’d jumped in there when she got frightened. Sounded so cute!

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