When I was eight years old, I arrived home from school one day, clutching a letter to say I was eligible to play a musical instrument. My parents were thrilled, until they discovered the one I wanted to play was the violin.
“Are you sure you don’t want to play the recorder?” they asked (begged).
“Nope, I definitely want to play the violin, and the school says I can even bring it home to practice.”
My parents tried to smile; tried to be positive and supportive of my new-found passion, but I could the terror in their eyes when I arrived home carrying the black box containing my well-worn fiddle.
Later that week I treated them to a screeching rendition of Three Blind Mice, and while I was convinced I was good enough to join an orchestra – or at the very least go busking in Kettering station – I’m afraid my parents were less than convinced.
They assured me that I was a fabulous violinist, but that probably the best place to practice was my bedroom. It would be more private there they said, less distractions, and besides, my brother wouldn’t be able to laugh at me so much if I was tucked away in my room.
Eventually I gave up the violin after my teacher caught me writing the notes in my practice book instead of memorising them as he’d previously instructed. I decided to abandon my dreams of being a famous fiddler and instead moved on to the recorder. That lasted far longer than the violin and I can still strike up a brilliant rendition of London’s Burning and Go and Tell Aunt Nancy.
My daughter is now the same age as I was when I decided to play an instrument, and lo-and-behold she came home the other day clutching a letter all about it. The good news is she didn’t want anything to do with the violin. Instead she decided to go one step further and enrol on the cello course instead.
Of course we’re thrilled – ecstatic – to have another musician in the family, and we’re positive she’ll become the next Pablo Casals (a famous cellist – and yes I did have to Google it). She’ll probably tour Europe in a world-famous orchestra, or play on film soundtracks and make a fortune. But if – like me – she never gets past ‘Three Blind Mice’, it’s still okay. I’m sure we’ll love her music regardless – even if we do have to resort to earplugs every once in a while…