Violin101 9/17 Year of the Plague

On Wallace Street when Kathy was 7 she wanted to play the piano. My parents bought a piano & hired a music teacher, Mr. Polick came to our house each week. I, 18 months younger, was given a ½ size violin. Our Wallace Street apartment was cut out of a “grand” Revolutionary War respectable family brownstone. And our apartment's front room, our living room, was the living room in the original house. On the main floor, high ceilings and a marble fireplace & now Kathy's piano. Kathy would do her scales and etudes. Then I would brutalize my weekly assignment with Mr. Polick playing etudes with me.

Then we would play for my parents. Mr. Polick on his violin, my sister at the keyboard and I with my ½ size fiddle. We would play simple trios from the time of Bach. Simple, not too fast. My father and mother would sit and listen. Simple trios. Under the chandelier.

I wasn't the most dedicated fiddler but loved playing. Age 6, I would sit on the front stoop on Wallace Street with the trolley ding dinging by and play for the neighbors.

Kathy quit taking lessons after few years. So I was sent off to Philadelphia's Settlement House for my lessons. Weekly I would take the trolley to South Philly. My teacher at Settlement, Mrs. Simovitch would suffer unhappily thru my slow development and annual recitals for years. I wasn't a confident fiddler. A typical recital failure was my playing a concerto with the format – main movement then a repeat sign at bar “A” , so you repeat the movement then go to ending at “B” bypassing the repeat. I was so nervous I didn't, after the repeat, go to the finale. After not stopping, Mrs. Simovitch saved me and interrupted. In the audience was staff from Curtis Institute of Music. They didn't try to enroll me.

I went on to play in my Jr. High School orchestra - John Paul Jones. And even got to play with a couple hundred kids at Philadelphia's Academy of Music with Philadelphia's All Jr. HS Orchestra.

And I played 2nd fiddle in my pretty good high school orchestra. I kept playing 2nd fiddle until the summers of MY CABIN. Which I talk about in future “cabin” sketches.