Putting the Arts in my Heart


This post is a retrospective journal entry for me.  It is slightly long.  If you have no interest in my past, feel free to not read it 🙂

When my sisters and I were wee little babes, my mum and pop made piano lessons a priority.  It was a mandatory obligation on our household.  I didn’t understand why, but I was okay with it.  All my friends were in piano lessons too.  In fact, it’s where my childhood best friend Janae and I became best friends.  We were little terrors during group lessons.  It’s a miracle Julie likes us now.  But music became important.

Shortly after, in elementary school, Janae and I decided we would join orchestra, taught by Gary Pack from our ward.  Janae picked the cello, and I the violin.  And that’s where the love really started.

I remember my practicing being referred to as “the sound of a dying farm animal.”  But it didn’t phase me.  Practicing became the greatest source of joy for my 10 year old self.

My mom and dad realized that if I was to grow as a violinist, I would need private lessons.  They found a teacher up the street from us who would be willing to accept me as a new student; Amy Miller.  Amy taught me the fundamentals of Suzuki, and it was as if someone flipped a switch.  I excelled at an accelerated rate.

Janae, Shalynn and I played through middle school.  We were highly obnoxious.  But we loved music.  We loved Orchestra.  Orchestra was the highlight of my day.  I may have gotten locked in a tuba locker at some point.  And maybe we tricked 7th graders into eating rosin because it “tasted like syrup.”  It was great.

Sophomore yr Orchestra

By the time I was in ninth grade, my teacher Amy couldn’t teach me anymore.  I had caught up to her level.  She referred me to Esther Tingey, who she was currently taking advanced lessons from.

Orchestra 05
Shalynn & Eric. ’05

In ninth grade, I was also playing in Jordan Youth Symphony, where I got my first taste of loving community arts.  It was the best to get on a school bus with Janae, and meet other like minded people.  We had the time of our lives playing at different schools and doing different workshops with music professionals.  We got to perform in grand places, like Abravennel Hall.

Orchestra 05
Orchestra tour 2005

When I started taking lessons from Esther, I felt a bond with her that was unique to any other relationship I had.  There is a relationship that can be formed over the bond of music that can be formed no where else.  There’s nothing in the world like it.  Esther lived in Centerville, but she was worth the commute.  Not only was she my teacher, she was my friend.  I continued to grow with Esther, and she got to watch me improve and grow as a musician and person.

Orchestra Tour 2005
Orchestra Tour 2005

In high school I participated heavily in Orchestra.  Janae, Shalynn and I played every single pit orchestra for the musicals: The Sound of Music, The Wiz, Cinderella, and 7 Brides for 7 Brothers.  Playing in the pit was a party.  We were the unsung, invisible heros of the production.  And we were okay with that.  We would eat snacks, laugh, and be awesome.  Janae and I would toss notes back and forth.  Mr Neves, Mr Simpson, Mr Findley, and Mrs Gee were saints for putting up with our riots.  But they knew we had a love of music, and they were happy we were there.

Pit Orchestra
Janae & I in the pit for Cinderella

We also played in Jordan Symphony Orchestra, which was the high school level of JYS.  We made great friendships with other musicians.  Johnny Lion, the tuba player.  Paul Haul, and his silly suspenders.  The albino flute player with an afro.  It was great.

I played at a music camp with BYU one summer.  Musicians from all over the world came to this camp.  I made friends with the percussionist from France and a vegan cellist from California.  I also played in a mariachi band during that summer.

Orchestra tour 2007. Lord knows why I’m wearing a cowboy hat. Le sigh.

I continued my lessons with Esther.  Until the summer between my Jr & Sr year.  That summer, she left.  She left her family.  Her kids.  Her life.  Her students.  Me.  It was devastating.  We were working on my Sterling Scholar piece.  I was never able to finish it.  I was so angry.  I never heard from her again.  My heart was broken.

My mom tried to get me to start lessons with a new teacher, but I didn’t feel like I.  I had entered brat-mode.  She tried to get me doing lessons with Jan, Paul Hauls mother, but it didn’t last.  I fell out of love.  In Orchestra, I was the brattiest first-chair you had ever met.  Lucky for me, Jenna Gee (now Baumgart) could dish it out as much as I could.  She ended up teaching my private lessons for the rest of the year.  She whipped me into shape, which was exactly what I needed.  She was someone who wouldn’t go easy on me or let me have excuses.

Orchestra 07
Brat Mode; Blue hair; Snotty Smirk. Not proud of this time of my life.

Then I graduated.  My first semester, I played with the Salt Lake Community College orchestra.  But it wasn’t the same.  I didn’t have Janae to make faces at.  It didn’t feel fun.  And that passion I had, wasn’t there anymore.  So I stopped.

SLCC Orchestra
Before my first/only college concert, in my pretty college formal

Every now and then, I would pull our the old tiger-stripes (what I called my violin) and practice a little in my front room.  But I had no teacher, and no group to play with.  It became dead.

Aaron and I love being involved in the arts in our community.  Aaron does volunteer IT work for Ballet West, and in return, we get tickets to the ballet.

Ballet West

Going to the ballet is always a beautiful and moving experience.  All I see are years of dedication and sacrifice manifesting itself on stage.  It inspires me to live a better life.  Watching the ballet speaks to my heart.  It touches it in a way I cannot use words to describe.  But my favorite part of the ballet is the live pit orchestra.  The music is perfection.  My heart feels rich when I hear the sounds.

We also have season tickets to the playhouse Hale Centre Theatre.  Last Friday we saw 39 Steps.

39 Steps Hale Centre Theatre

There’s a magic that happens when actors are on stage and they are able to reach your emotions.  I was laughing my heart out during the outrageous situations the main character found himself in.  But a couple years ago, Hale Centre Theatre put on A Tale of Two Cities.  And I founds myself silently sobbing in the last scene.

Every time we go to the ballet, or see a play, I get a little voice in my head that reminds me I should be participating.  I’m hiding my talents from the world, and how selfish that is.

One day when my visiting teacher was over, she spotted my violin in the corner of my front room.  “Do you play?” She asked.  I told her yes, but not in a very long time.  She said, “Me too!  We should play a duet in church.”  We practiced together, and were able to perform a piece the Sunday before Christmas.  It really put the itch in me to start playing for real again.  It was a flood of good memories from when music was my life.

It was time for me to really put the arts back into my heart.  There was a hole from where they were missing.  On Saturday I went to my first meeting with the West Jordan Community Symphony.  They made me a member of the guild.  I bet you’ll never guess my job.  They have appointed me to be the WJCS Blogger.  I am thrilled.  I’m so I excited to have a part in this organization and to make new friends.  But I’m excited to start playing again.  It’s only once a week, on Saturday mornings.  I think that is something I can handle.

When something has always been a part of you, it’s not something you can erase from your heart.


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