Bless Our Little Violinist!

Today, I received an urgent SOS. No! NOT an SMS, but a real SOS. It read: “Mummy, I have a week to learn Fur Elise (her choice) on her violin for an audition. Please book me in for as many lessons as you can!!!!!”

If there is one thing I have learned from my kids, it’s to expect the unexpected. That as much as I try to be the conductor and orchestrate the piece, the players are busy composing their own thing and improvising instead. Obviously, there are no guarantees that it’s going to be a harmonious mix when it all comes together either. Much more likely, that the sounds will be wondering randomly all over the place like lost sheep. However, all is not lost. With three sheep dogs under one roof, hopefully they can retrieve the notes and bring it all back together. By now, I guess you’ve realized that we’re not traveling systematically in a straight line. Rather, our paths are more like a spider’s web AND for better or worse, I think that makes me the fly.


The spark for my latest philosophical rant, was my daughter. An audition has cropped up, and this musical calls for a singer and musician. That is, someone who can play an instrument. For my daughter, this posed no problem because she plays the violin. The only trouble is, that she hasn’t touched her violin in just over 12 months. Indeed, she hung up her bow after performing at the Sydney Opera House with her school. In case you haven’t had a love affair with the violin, it doesn’t appreciate neglect and has been known to screech and complain in very unpleasant, ear-piercing tones when it’s player returns.  At least, that’s how it’s been for me!

The road to this audition hasn’t been easy. Miss was away at a school camp this week where, by the way, she lost her voice. Moreover, she had no time to learn her lines, resurrect her violin or prepare herself and then, we received a note from the dance school saying we were recording her audition this morning. Naturally, she wanted to pull out, but she’d made a commitment and getting audition practice is the name of the game at the moment. So, off she went… the violin case still covered in dust. It hasn’t been unopened in over twelve months!

I still remember what it was like be a kid and leap before you look, not really knowing what you ought to know before you dive in. Back when I was eleven, I filled out a form for a pen pal and ticked that I could speak German. After all, I could count to ten and also knew “Ja” and “Nein”. Of course, I was rather surprised when I received letters in German from three German pen pals. Then, there was the time I auditioned for the Bennelong Programme at the Sydney Opera House. I remember my friends and I filling out the forms and I ticked that I could play the flute, even though I hadn’t touched it in at least 4 years. I got into the programme but was ultimately so intimidated by the level of talent, that I left. I am clearly much better at creative writing.

Anyway, my daughter’s been given another week’s grace before she needs to do her recording. So, the voice has been ordered to rest, and the violin has been ordered to play. I must admit that I’m quite excited about this and I have loved playing with Miss in the past. Yet, at the same time, I know we have a mountain to climb. She not only needs to sound like a decent violinist, she has to look like one and that is almost as difficult. She has chosen to play Fur Elise, which you don’t usually hear on violin, but I’d chased down the music with my teacher. My mum has taught Miss to play it on the piano and Mum tells me that my grandfather used to whistle the opening bars. I can also play it on the piano myself…right through. It’s a sentimental fave.


Just as well I’m not a ruthless organizer. It wasn’t that long ago, that I had a good look at my daughter’s violin and wondered whether it was time to go. With a cupboard full of violins and three hungry dogs, I’m planning to sell the smaller violins and was wondering whether to add her ¾ violin to the pile. After all, how long do you wait to find out whether a dream’s merely asleep or if it’s dead? Even if it’s simply taken a different path and been reborn as something else, the violin was surplus to requirements. However, I couldn’t be sure and wasn’t ready to put that final nail in the coffin.

You see, I still remember once upon a time…

Back then, Miss was six going on seven with  bobbed, dark hair, a fringe. She was my little sparrow. She’d fallen in love with the violin and despite my efforts to steer her into learning the piano, she insisted. At first, she played and played and played, but after the holidays, the stupid thing started screeching and it was all too much. She stopped playing, but I kept going. Despite all her protests, I knew there was a magic there. That the violin had touched her somewhere deep inside her soul and lit a spark. The sort of spark, which never goes out. Even if you can’t see a glimmer of light from the surface, the spark is still there just waiting to be rekindled.

While her love affair with the violin has been  dare I say “fickle”, I have been steadfast. A week after her very first lesson, I picked up my bow again and I haven’t put it down since. Indeed, through pneumonia, chemotherapy and the demands of parenting with a chronic illness, I have played on. Just like the violinists immortalized on the Titanic, I’m no quitter.

Rowena Lizottes

Posing after our violin performance 2012. Lizotte’s is a rock n’ roll venue where the likes of Diesel have performed…and me! The music school hired the venue for our concert.


Yet, learning an instrument as a mature aged student isn’t easy. It’s actually a very physical thing and I’m not physical. I’ve had to work hard, persevere and accept the plod while those around me soar and a little upstart picks up Fur Elise after not touching her violin for more than a year, and plays it. Not perfect, but after 30 minutes, she plays it better than me.

As much as I’m delighted and relieved she can pick it up again like that, I’d have to be honest, and say there’s a fair degree of schadenfreude in there. It’s not easy when you’ve put in the hours and someone else clicks their fingers, and gets there at the speed of light. You want to complain to management. Register you’re angst with the man upstairs. After all, isn’t it meant to be the tortoise who wins the race…

Do you have any tales of going for auditions or preparing for concerts etc? I’d love to hear them. Please leave them in the comments.

xx Rowena



27 thoughts on “Bless Our Little Violinist!

  1. pensitivity101

    I guess I’ve been lucky and never had to face an audition or prepare for a concert apart from playing the piano-accordian at school in class. I will sit and play the piano for hours at a time though (arthritis permitting) and in the cottage, one particular old lady would walk past our house three of four times just to listen, a few times accompanied by a couple of friends. We invited her in once, but I guess she preferred to hear the music from a distance!

  2. Rowena Post author

    Oh! I love that story. I have this story in my head about someone with the most exquisite voice singing in the shower and the voice wandering off down the street. As much as I love the stage and you want performers to be out there where their talents can really be enjoyed and appreciated, I also have a thing for hidden talent. That the best isn’t necessarily known and out there on stage. Moreover, many very good musicians and writers, are very private people. Don’t want to be seen or heard.
    In addition to the performance angle of music, I just thought I’d also mention that musicians who give us goosebumps and have tapped into the spiritual or what ever vat that is. It would a shame for those people not to weave their magic and touch people where they need it most.
    xx Rowena

  3. pensitivity101

    I have been told that my music brought a lot of pleasure to a lot of the older generation when I’ve played in a pub or club (purely personal) in the past, probably because I play ‘the old stuff’ from the old musicals. It relaxes me, and if other people like it, that’s good.

  4. New Journey

    What a great post….I love the SOS call…she is going places in this world…my one and only acting scene was in first grade, I was Cottontail in Peter Rabbit, my mom made me a yellow bunny suit out of flannel, it doubled as my Halloween costume that year…LOL that was my 15 minutes of fame…your little girl does stuff I could never do….she’s amazing….Fur Elise on the violin, please record her I would love to her it….xxxkat

  5. Rowena Post author

    She keeps me on my toes and exceptionally agile considering.
    I loved your story about Peter Rabbit and full marks to your Mom for making your outfit. My mother was never one of those Mums and neither am I, although Mum accompanied the school choir and worked hard in the Mother’s Club and I’ve done the publicity and reading at the school.
    Will try and record her playing Fur Elise and I’ll post it on FB and send you a link. xx Ro

  6. Rowena Post author

    That’s fantastic. My Mum is part of a trio which plays in nursing homes on a volunteer basis. Mum plays the piano and there’s an opera style singer and a clarinet player. They play the old stuff too, although I can’t quite remember any of the songs off hand. I collect old music to some extent and love the really old sheet music. It’s so beautifully illustrated.

  7. pensitivity101

    Some Enchanted Evening, If I loved You, You’ll Never Walk Alone, Love is a Many Splendoured Thing, Blue Moon, Danny Boy, just a few of Mum’s favourites she’d sing along to as I played.

  8. Rowena Post author

    Yes, Mum plays many of those. My brother’s name is Daniel so she doesn’t like playing Danny Boy. I must admit I love Love is a Many Splendoured Thing. I heard Love Me Tender on the radio the other day, and it sounded old.

  9. pensitivity101

    Love me Tender is an old Elvis hit from the 50s, he making his acting debut in the film the year I was born (1956). My Mum bought my Dad a pocket watch that played it, but sadly it’s disappeared without trace.

  10. Rowena Post author

    Thanks, Kat. Parents seem to outsource their kids a lot these days, but that also costs money. Tutoring is quite popular, but we can do it ourselves if they need help. Academically they’re both fine, just need to be kept on task or might have a few questions.
    It’s Mr’s birthday tomorrow and i decided to make him a cake. Could buy one but it’s not the same. It arrives in a box and unless you drop it or the dog eats it, there’s no stress and drama. Nothing like burning the cake or some other drama! No. I’m into maximum pain!
    xx Ro

  11. Rowena Post author

    That’s a shame the watch disappeared. You might be able to find one like it on Ebay if you were interested. I’ve done that with a few things which were sentimental to me.

  12. pensitivity101

    I won’t look for one, as I had hoped it would come to me in Mum’s will as she’d mentioned it years ago. Sis says she can’t find it, but I think someone was given it when Dad died.

  13. Rowena Post author

    Those thing get tricky. People also snaffle things, although perhaps your family is more upstanding than mine.

  14. Rowena Post author

    Yes, we have some of both too and I’m not entirely innocent either although I plundered letters and photos. Not many though. My parents are still alive and so it was my grandparents things.

  15. pensitivity101

    I have little of my grandparents (other than old photos), never knowing my grandmothers, but Mum left me her mother’s cameo in her will and have a face compact my paternal grandfather gave me when I was about 16. I still have my Dad’s cardy (tatty, thin and badly darned, but his) and some precious little things Mum put aside for me. I was never asked if there was anything specific I wanted of Mums, and the only thing I would have liked was a stuffed gorilla that hung over Mum’s bed as it was the last thing I gave my Dad. I asked, but my request was never acknowledged. My sister’s put her house on the market and what was Mum’s room has been gutted, so that’s not going to happen. I’m waiting for her to tell me when Mum’s ashes are going to be scattered as the funeral was over a month ago now. So far, zilch. Families. No wonder I prefer dogs.

  16. New Journey

    I have always believed in hands on with the kids, even today and they are both grown and out of the house for years…LOL nothing like a homemade cake and birthday dinner…my son has taken to always wanting to spend his birthday with his mum…he surprised me last year and drove down here and this year he is bringing his girlfriend and sister…LOL will be fun…I am making his favorite meal for his birthday,, pesto tortellini with chicken breast….easy LOL however he hates cakes so we always just do ice cream…..even easier…LOL I believe there is something special in hands on…..xxxkat

  17. Rowena Post author

    You’re so right, Kat and it’s one of those things you don’t know that you don’t know if you’re not bringing them up that way. That said, that didn’t stop my son from having a meltdown today and saying I didn’t love him. Felt like taking his presents back in hindsight. I put so much thought into everything but then his sister did muck it up. Kept talking about how he didn’t give her anything for her birthday. Her love language is gifts so she wasn’t impressed and she was like a broken record about it. Grr! xx Ro

  18. Rowena Post author

    I’m sorry for the loss of your Mum and the losses that have come on top of that. There is usually that person in control who feels they only the passed loved one and make it very difficult for others to express their grief and make a contribution to the funeral, how things are split up etc. It’s pretty nasty really and I agree with you about the dogs. Ours are equal members of our family.

  19. pensitivity101

    Thanks Rowena. Mum hated us arguing so I am not going to push things as the results would only upset me more. Mum knew I loved her, I told her at every opportunity, and if we could have visited more often or been there when she passed away, we would have been. Sis and I have never really been close or had anything in common, so we shall go our separate ways. My olive branch snapped years ago, but I was still hoping for a sprout. I’ve scheduled the poem I read at Mum’s funeral for Mother’s Day this weekend.

  20. New Journey

    Kids…..unfortunelty our kids only know one thing for sure that will hit him, I don’t love you!! Works every time. It took my daughter teaching me to say to my son, who melted down a lot, my comeback became, its ok if you don’t love me right now, however I love you and am sorry if you feel that way. I am not sure if it ever worked by the time we got to that point he was in tears. Why are boys so much more drama than girls. As far as kids, my son had 60$ to go buy his sister a birthday present, she got a pair of new socks and he got a new game for the computer, siblings!!!! Hang in there mom….he loves you more than you know…xx

  21. Rowena Post author

    I made it to his sailing today and I know he appreciated that and his sister even hung around without complaining. The sailing club is naturally right on the waterfront with a great view and it is so relaxing. It was really great to see him out sailing with all the Saturday crew which included kids on the optimist, PJs and Flying 11s and adults on lasers. There were all these little sail boats out there and it felt so weird to think he was one of them. They just looked like a flock of white sails. It was a wonderful sight. I only had my phone but the photos still turned out well. I’ll be posting some tonight so stay tuned.
    Hope you are enjoying your weekend, although it probably is only just beginning!
    xx Ro

  22. Rowena Post author

    I hope you get through Mother’s Day okay. No doubt it will be tough so hang in there and I’ll pop rouond and read your poem. We have Mother’s Day in May here.
    xx Rowena

  23. pensitivity101

    Thank you. Mother’s Day is in May in NZ too, so I don’t know why the UK is different. This is the ‘first’ of many occasions without Mum, so we shall just take each day.

  24. New Journey

    Its Saturday night here, we had rain today so that was a nice break, went out and walked in it LOL just kicking back doing a lot of nothing…LOL Sounds very relaxing sitting by the water and watching the boats…..xxkat

  25. Rowena Post author

    It was much more relaxing than trying to get everything sorted for the coming week this afternoon and evening because I also slept through the morning. It felt like I’d suddenly put my foot flat on the accelerator and I just leaped over a stack of packed cars Dukes of Hazard style. You know, I landed okay so must have everything under control…ha!
    xx Ro

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