Cereal Box Beginnings

I began studying the violin when I was four years old.

Well, sort of.

I was given a cereal box with a ruler stuck on the end of it and instructed to hold it like a violin. When I explained to my teacher that I didn't want to play the cereal box, but that I wanted that other box, the one the boy next to me had which was wooden and shiny and had long tight strings across it, she just smiled and told me to continue marching around the room in rest position. The following week was the same, more marching and more listening to other children play songs on their shiny violins.

A month later, on my fifth birthday, I arrived at my violin class with my cereal box and the teacher took me aside and showed me a black oblong case on the floor. "Open it," she said. "It's yours." I handed my cereal box to my mother, knelt down and slowly opened the lid. I could feel my heart pounding inside my chest and my lungs filled with a sudden jolt of air. What I saw was a shiny wooden box with four tight strings spanning the length of the body. I carefully pulled the violin out of the case to get a better look. I peered inside the f-holes. I looked closely at the curving lines of the wood along the edge of the violin. I touched the spiral tip of the scroll with my finger and followed its path around and around. I turned the violin over and felt the smooth soft texture of the back.

What I realized was that finally, my days of cereal box fame were over. I had a real violin all my own.

Now, I could begin.