A letter to my own viola

To: my own viola, who is currently on the piano chair

You saw that, didn’t you, the letter to the other viola? Don’t worry. I don’t mean that I don’t love you. After all, you took quite a trip to be here, with me.

I am grateful for the day you appeared in my life. You showed me what it meant for a viola to be actually responsive. You were, although new and unseasoned, quick and limber and unlike the golden-yellow Czech viola. Heeding my teacher’s advice, I played harmonics, and put good strings on you, and I realised what it means for a viola to open up. 

In a way, you’ve grown with me. I knew precious little when I started with you: so little, it seems almost embarrassing now. It was an ignorance of little things, like how to tune without fine-tuners, what to use to clean rosin residue, how to warm up an instrument, that I grew aware of with you. 

Although you’re small, you have a big sound. Even Ms K took note of you; I am irrationally proud.

Shall I even go into how we met? Conspiring, it was, on the part of my mother and my teacher! Almost like a secret love affair. 

I confess I had had some misgivings the first time you were brought up in conversation. I was quite attached to the golden-yellow viola- you must understand- and I was unsure of what it would be to have a ‘proper’ instrument. I was unsure of many things, anyhow. I know you were gauche and clumsy the first time I played you, but you grew. You grew into me.

I don’t have a name for you. I don’t feel the same kind of anthropomorphic attachment which you may have discerned from the chocolate school viola. But I believe this is because I’ve spent enough time with you, in all kinds of contexts, to know you better: your sweet spots, your dodgy tuning pegs, your preferred strings. So… I look forward to the time I will spend with you in the future and the music we will make together.


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