The Unexpected Gifts of Playing Violin ~ Chapter 4
In the last few years, I have found a way to work less hours and I manage stress better. However, there is plenty of room for improvement. Choosing holistic treatments over conventional, doing yoga, meditating and writing in my journal daily have helped enormously with managing stress, creativity and changing my outlook on 'time' and life, in general. These influences are presenting themselves in my creations, too. My customers are really drawn & connect to my very personal pieces and stories. This is good sign to me. It tells me I am doing the right work at this time. I am finding more and more of my audience, the more I share of myself personally.
Another, major change to my work was the incorporation of brass and bronze to some pieces. I began adding these metals about 2007, because the price of sterling had skyrocketed. I was hesitant at first to use these less-costly metals, as I had not like brass much in the past. But, I have always loved oxidized metal and once I saw how brass and bronze looked after oxidation and a polish, I was hooked! Anytime, that my heart swoons, after making a new design or trying a new technique, I know I am on the right track.
Happily, most of my customers readily embraced this new look with the brass and bronze. I find that I enjoy the balancing equation that I must figure-out to mix the metals in the design. I, also, like the movement in the design that mixed-metals builds. In the last year or so, I have begun using gold-fill and rose gold-fill into my designs, as well. And, customers are responding very well to these new metal choices, too. Now, most often women prefer a mixed-metal piece of mine over full sterling.
In 2011, an inspiration came from an unexpected place...an offer to learn to play violin for practically free was presented to me via email from the new String Conservatory in Joshua Tree, CA. It was one of the few times in my life, when my heart pounded a resounding YES without question! This was a surprise to me, but when I looked to my past, I saw that violins and fiddles had been surrounding me, since early childhood. They could be found in the paintings just behind my spot at the dinner table. My non-biological grandfather, Harry, had played one that he had made himself in his family's band. We, often, went to go see him and his family play at festivals. One of my great-great grandfathers or uncles had been the 'town-fiddler', so maybe it is in the blood, too. The music of Roma culture resonates deeply with me and a violin can often be found in their music. When I look back, much of the other music that really made my heart leap was full of strings.
I took 1 1/2 years of classical violin classes at the Conservatory. After completing those courses, I started wondering about playing outside classical style with a band, maybe something folksy, as I love some of the old-time fiddle music. I yearned to improvise and there was no room for that in playing further with this group.
Once I started playing violin, it quickly became my woobie and I often took it with me while away doing shows, so that I could practice in the hotel room. I didn't want to lose any ground on the finger positions. So, in July 2012, it was natural to take it with me on our vacation with our friends, Mike and Jeff. Jeff had brought his guitar. He had already been performing solo and at other times with others for several years. One afternoon, we explored playing together and we found a spark there. We had a few more 'practices' and told our families jokingly that we were giving them a concert on our last night.
Our impromptu 'concert' drew additional audience members beyond family and ended in applause! Jeff had an Elvis-like white jumpsuit on and mirrored shades and I was crowned in a cotton-candy pink wig. So, there was more entertaining aspects beyond music happening. We were putting on a show. We temporarily named ourselves, "Eaten By Bears", because the campground had many bears roaming around after dark. However, sadly we discovered this name was already taken. One night after we got home, we brainstormed for a new name and Cash, Mike and Jeff's son, raised a finger abruptly, stopped in the kitchen and said, "The Wonder People!" Jeff and I instantly agreed. And the name stuck. We live in Wonder Valley, hence, part of the reason for the name. The Wonder People has additional members besides myself and Jeff. Check us out on our facebook page, The Wonder People.
My journey on the violin threads into my entire life. While playing, I develop life philosophies, patience, soulful excitement, problem-solve, release anxiety, remove creative blocks,etc. And now that I play publicly, I am able to share and connect with friends on a different creative level and share with the public, too. It is quite a remarkable addition to my life. Playing violin gives immeasurable help in creating my pieces in the most subtle of ways. As I am using different parts of my brain to play, it opens up other pathways of thinking...and healing.
Stay tuned...The next and final chapter will be posted on or about the 1st of October.