Wednesday, January 16, 2013 —
What was the best Christmas present?
For me, it would be something a family member made, like the pictures and the book my granddaughters made and gave to me last month.
Or, maybe it would be the certificate for “free violin lessons” from my 7-year-old grandson Jake.
Jake has been taking violin for about a year. One day he will be a good performer, but he is not yet ready for Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center, nor has he been trained to teach others to play.
I have always wanted to know how a violin works, wondering, how does that funny looking instrument make such beautiful music in the hands of an unaccomplished player?
In my efforts to play other musical instruments, I know I could never be an adequate musician. But my lack of talent does not keep me from wanting to know how good musicians make their instruments work.
Several years ago, when I told my wife that I wished I could play a violin, she bought me one. It was an inexpensive, mail-order version. I could never make it work. It had come without a bridge, a small but essential part that positions and supports strings, aligning them in a way that when the violin bow makes contact, there is a sound.
So we had packed up the violin until the other day when Jake came to give me the violin lesson he promised at Christmas.
With the help of Jake’s dad, we adjusted a new bridge and put the violin in working order.
Jake had a lesson plan in mind. He was going to teach me to play part of the scale using the violin’s E-string. Using tape, he carefully marked the places on the violin where my finger would push down that string to make different notes.
His plan for that first lesson centered on that E-string.
As we were about to begin, in a last adjustment, the E-string broke.
Although I thought we would have to postpone the lesson, Jake calmly said, “I think you can learn with the A-string. You can do the same things as on the E-string and get the same practice.”
That mature reaction to crisis made me think my grandson might have the makings of a real teacher, not just a child pretending, as he did in earlier times when he dressed up as a garbage man, firefighter, policeman or pilot.
My confidence in him increased as he carefully instructed me how to hold the violin and the bow, stressing that good posture is required for good violin playing. He gave me several drills to play a series of notes using the reference points he had marked. I respectfully responded to his suggestions for adjusting my positions and movements.
When the lesson was over, Jake, who has just learned to write, carefully put down instructions to prepare for the next lesson.
I was amazed at how much I learned from this time with a seven-year-old teacher. He was cool, calm and authoritative as he guided me through my beginning experience with a violin. Every time I hear a classical violinist or a country music fiddler, my pleasure will be a little richer.
Even more than the value of what I learned, I treasure the memory of the joy I got from having the 7-year-old teach the 72-year-old and know the pride my teacher had in doing such a good job.
If there are other lessons from Jake’s Christmas present, one of the most important may be this: There are people of all ages around us, with experiences and talents that could make them wonderful teachers if we just honor them by asking them to share with us.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013 —
What was the best Christmas present?
- Opinion & Letters to the Editor
Do White Castle prices tell us anything about the minimum wage?
NEW YORK - Economists love hamburgers. Specifically fast-food burgers. This is partly because all right-thinking human beings love ground meat on a bun, but it's also because the sandwich makes a handy yardstick for international financial comparisons. The ingredients and labor involved in preparing a Big Mac are pretty much the same no matter where you are in the world, so by looking at how many hours of toiling it takes a worker to earn enough to purchase one, you can get a sense of how wages really stack up across countries. The Economist famously created the Big Mac index in 1986 to see which currencies were overvalued. It started as a joke. Now, as the magazine proudly notes, it's a subject of academic study.
Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?
WASHINGTON - What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.
All in the Family
We had a family get-together at my brother’s house on Easter Sunday. It’s hard to get our family together because we are spread out, especially when you consider nieces and nephews. My parents and siblings all made the gathering this year. Some of my nieces and nephews are far away, but they all remember gathering at my brother’s house for the holidays. Easter is known for the Jell-O eggs and the famous Easter egg hunt.
Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'
In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.
The case for separate beds
WASHINGTON - The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.
Obama's equal pay exaggeration leads us all into danger
The president's claims of national shame over gender-based pay inequity spring from distorted calculations, as well as some convenient political math.
Teens trading naked selfies for mugshots
Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.
If you want to vote in primary, you need to register to vote now
RALEIGH – North Carolina voters will head to the polls on May 6 this year to cast ballots in important primary elections across the state.
Heeding the voter fraud call in N.C.
RALEIGH – Legislators found the findings outrageous.
I took a few minutes over the weekend to enjoy our yard and the arrival of spring. There seems to be so much work that needs to be done, it is hard to decide what to do first. I am excited that I got to run my tiller through the garden. I didn’t go very deep, but I did at least break up the soil. I have a couple of raised beds and the soil in them was in very good shape. I didn’t plant my peas and now after the big rain we got on Monday I realize that I missed a window of opportunity.
- More Opinion & Letters to the Editor Headlines
- Do White Castle prices tell us anything about the minimum wage?