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My Journey with the NYO and the Violin

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 649 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Jul 18, 2018

Words: 649|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Jul 18, 2018

Our acquaintance began when I was four. I still remember my mother shouting in horror when I would hold lightsaber battles with my bow, recreating the scenes from Star Wars. But thirteen years later, I have put thousands of hours of practice into taming its rough voice, which is now equally capable of producing roars of rage as it is sighs of satisfaction. Without my violin, I never would have played in the Maison Symphonique Hall in Montreal or given elegies for eldercare residents as a music therapist, or been able to meet Chris Hadfield.

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It has been getting harder to find time for music in my hectic lifestyle, especially since I have to travel an hour or more by car three times a week to do so. I remember one memorable day when I raced to a masterclass after a tennis match, sweaty clothes and all. But despite the debate tournaments, math contests, tutoring, and the cornucopia of College Board exams, I somehow find time to devote to my violin every single day. Even on those “days from hell” where I leave the house at six and get back at midnight, I slap on a metal practice mute and silently grind through forty minutes of Brahms before collapsing from exhaustion.

My commitment to music enabled me to join the National Youth Orchestra (NYO) of Canada. To say it was the best experience of my life would be hackneyed, and that’s the problem with overusing the extremes of language. It becomes harder to describe the truly fantastic experiences in life, especially since I was lucky enough to be provided with full scholarships from NYO Canada.

“You guys made it. This is the hardest orchestra to get into in Canada for students such as yourself. Give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it!” a staff member proclaimed to wild cheering. It was intimidating at first, having to live with ninety-five other strangers, most of whom were college students - some already had their bachelor’s in hand.

The next seven weeks turned out to be the most grueling ones of my life. The nine-hour days, cross country flights, and the shuffling in and out of hotels during the tour took their toll on me. But this total immersion ensured that I learned to value hard work, grind through multiple three-hour recording sessions, and handle pressure.

NYO was what it was because of the people. Despite the age difference, I was amazed at our ability to converse freely as equals. On that first day, I never would have thought that these strangers would become my lifelong friends, my life support, even my family throughout communal exhaustion. It wasn’t an uncommon sight to see people slumped against one another during lunch, desperate to catch just a wink of sleep before the next rehearsal.

As actors go on stage for their final bow, and as classmates part ways at school’s end, there is a sense of finality in the air, a sense that something more profound than themselves has died, something they can’t quite put their fingers on. I felt very much the same way at the end of the past two summers with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada.

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I am a solo violinist, an avid orchestral member, and a passionate chamber musician. It isn’t only the passing of the years that has aged me; music first evoked in me the emotions that even now, words and pictures cannot. I find a refuge somewhere in between D major and G minor. When I turn the final page of a Mahler symphony, adrenaline surges through my every vein, and my palms grow sweaty. There’s nothing more satisfying than being able to pull off a flawless Bach Partita, and nothing more frustrating than cracking a note. But ultimately, there’s nothing more fulfilling than having played the violin throughout my life.

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