Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Variation on a theme

If there's one thing I took for granted as a teenager it was my ability to hear. By the time I was 16 I was already completely deaf in my right ear (I have no idea what caused it, but it was kind of gradual). At this time it didn't bother me that I was deaf in my right ear because I held my violin up to my left, and as long as I could discern pitch changes I didn't care.

I wasn't the most disciplined violinist throughout high school. I didn't practice as often as I should, mostly because I was also trying to be a varsity golfer at the same time, and by not choosing one over the other I was unable to practice as much as most golfers/violinists. I was trying to be OK at a lot of things instead of exceptional at one thing, which was a big mistake, I think.

Now that I'm going almost completely deaf I long to open my violin case and hear the music it once made. It was a crystalline, defining experience to master a techniqe or a piece. It made me absorbed in the moment, it made me want to strive for the next chance to disply my talent. It was for this reason that I joined four or five performance groups: I loved the limelight, baby.

But still, it faded, much because I didn't practice enough. I occaisionally played through college with a performance art group doing more loosely interpretive things instead of the technically exacting concertos, symphonies and themes that defined most of my training.

When I lost more of my hearing I found that I could no longer tune my instrument without a chromatic tuner, I could no longer discern pitch as well. It was one of the most depressing moments in my life: I wasn't a violinist anymore.

Still I am afraid to get hearing aids because I worry that it won't fix the problem, and they will only support a worthless facsimile of the vibrant music I once played. I just don't want to have that feeling of hopelessness, the feeling you get when you've tried everything and nothing works, the feeling of failing with your very last resort.

If I gave up hoping that I could one day go back to the violin I don't know if I could take it.


The Maiden Metallurgist said...

That was a very well written and expressive post. Thank you for sharing that.

MattJ said...

From what I understand of hearing aids they simply amplify rather than fabricate? I don't know, you doubtless know more about this than I do but you shoudl explore your options fully - yu don't want to miss out because of a perception after all?

As far as concentrating on one thing or the other - there is another way of looking at it. The hardcore golfer can't play the violin, and the hardcore violinist doesn't get to wander around with a stick and ridiculous clothing acting like they are playing a proper sport (I'm totally unbiased when it comes to golf and definitely do NOT rely on stereotypes!:D).

Point is you got to participate and enjoy in both. There is somethign to be said for throwing yourself into something with a passion, and its great if you enjoy it too - but sometimes its just good to enjoy a whole bunch of stuff.

And on the plus side, at least you're not like me. I genetically compensate for the rest of the Welsh - not only can I not sing or play anything without making children cry, recorded pieces actually lose their rhythm when i am in the area. I am like anti-music. It's true ;)

lotus07 said...

Touching.....we rely so much on our sense, yet take them for granted until they start to fade.

When the same thing started happening to me, I started to wonder, do we rely on the ones that are so obvious (touch, sight, hearing, etc..) and neglect the ones that we can only barely perceive. There are senses that we may have and simply not know it, because the others overshadowed them.

Olivia said...

iMatt is right - there are many options out there, and hearing aid technology has advanced so far. I heard about something new only recently, but forget what it was called.

Being ok at many things is more fun than being excellent at one thing. Polymaths have more fun than monomaths. Or, normal dabblers have more fun than hothouse kids.