This blog is about all things violin. It is meant to educate, inspire, and provide resources for parents, teachers, and students.
The author takes full responsibility for the viewpoints expressed here. In instances where she quotes ideas from others, she pledges to cite her sources
as fully, responsibly, and accurately as possible. Topics will include book reviews,
technique tips, entertaining anecdotes, quotes, jokes, educational findings, instrument care suggestions, violin in the news, repertoire lists, etc.
Cami J. Shaskin graduated with her master's degree in Music Education in 2008. Violin has always been her primary instrument, since beginning private lessons at age five. See camishaskinviolin.com/info for her music résumé, or click on Spotlights for historical recordings. Cami has enjoyed an array of experiences in writing,
from penning award-winning articles as a journalism staff writer in high school, tutoring peers at BYU's Writing Center, earning a Writing Fellows scholarship and a minor in
Language and Computers, and later becoming a published author. She recently picked up web programming as a hobby, earning a certificate in Web Programming and Development
from the local community college. This blog has been a collaborative effort between her and her husband, who is a Web Developer by profession. Together, they designed and
coded this blog and its original content "from scratch."
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Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in something truly remarkable. The weeks prior had been relatively normal for me. I was engaged in parenting my two young children, helping with my directing duties for the local youth symphony, teaching violin lessons, etc. I got a call to substitute several LDS Seminary classes one morning. As I was on my computer, looking up various scriptures for my lesson, I got on Facebook to search for something and noticed an out-of-the-ordinary post from one of my friends. As I read her update, I felt physically sick.
I had known this wonderful lady since we were in elementary school together. She was a young mother and fellow violinist and friend. And she had just been told she had a brain tumor. I immediately commented on her post, offering whatever little support I could. Without mentioning her name to them, I shared her story with my classes of youth that day, sharing the feeling that even though this was a terrible scenario, nevertheless, it felt temporary, somehow. And because of my Christian beliefs, I knew it truly would be, no matter the outcome.
Well, soon after the news, there was another post on social media. Elissa would be going through brain surgery to remove the tumor. And for part of it, she would be awake! She would be handed a violin and asked to play something. This was to help the doctors see and try to preserve the motor functions in the brain required to play the violin while they operated. After all, she is working on her doctorate in violin performance, so music is a major part of her life. She chose to perform solo Bach during the surgery, a very good choice in my book! Perhaps even a no-brainer (no irreverence intended!). As her friends, family, or colleagues, we musicians in her circle were invited to play and record music by Bach in our own homes while she was undergoing the operation, to show our support in a Virtual Vigil, spreading Bach across social media for those six hours. In the words of Carrie Salisbury in her post, “If a swell of musicians, students, friends and strangers flood her timeline with live performances of their own solo Bach, the intense healing blessings will reverberate in all our hearts, and buoy Elissa’s spirits.” We were encouraged to use the hashtag #bachonthebrain.
At some point during this saga, I realized how important it is for violinists to help fellow violinists feel important. Sometimes, violinists are referred to as a "dime a dozen," because there are so many of us. (I'm not a fan of that saying.) When we play together in groups, we don’t often get a chance to converse in rehearsal, unless it’s passing back a message about getting a bowing right or remembering to play a passage in a particular manner.
I am grateful that Elissa and I have talked outside of rehearsal and been able to maintain a friendship both in and out of our music groups. We were at the Interlochen Music Camp together in Michigan in high school, so we will reminisce about that from time to time, and we have both played with conviction and devotion in the Orchestra at Temple Square for about as long as I can remember, giving us plenty of conversing material. And there have been other groups: the Timpanogas Chamber Orchestra and even our school orchestra as elementary age students, where it all began. Now that we’re grown up, she’s graciously watched my kids before (in addition to her own) and in turn, I’ve watched with admiration her wit—particularly in this recent circumstance—her beauty, her commitment and amazing accomplishments, both in music, and in life.
I feel I am changed because of this terrible occurrence in her life. I feel it has added to the unity her friends have felt. One mutual friend even commented how performing Bach for Elissa felt like a sacred, spiritual experience! I don’t hope to be able to do this again, but I am glad I was given the encouragement and a reason to play Bach for someone in real need, in a fascinating, albeit traumatic, scenario . . . and in the process, I’ve been able to remember what truly matters when it comes to playing the violin, spreading joy through music, showing support to good people in life, and celebrating friendships—not just when a crisis occurs, but every single day.
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