I was with the same string quartet for seven years. That's a long time . . . especially when you're young. And we were young. We were two sets of sisters. I was the oldest at 14. My sister, the youngest, was only 11 or 12 when we first formed the group. But we were gung-ho. We had our group name, regular rehearsals, our own signature piece (arranged by Emily Richards, a talented violinist and friend) that we started each gig with, matching floral skirts, our own album, business cards, some supportive fans—and through it all, we developed incredible friendships with each other.
We played full quartets by Dvorak, Ravel, Mozart and Beethoven in our spare time. Of course, we played Pachelbel's Canon, Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, Trumpet Voluntary, and other wedding favorites. There were personal favorites like Interludium in Modo Antico and Pavane by Jay Welch. For jobs, sometimes we even took requests. And we got asked to play for a lot of receptions—even for college graduations. There were some challenges—like at a chamber music camp we attended, when the key to the trunk holding our instruments broke in the lock. Or when my sister opened her case at one of our gigs at least an hour way and we realized she had forgotten her viola. There was the time the cellist left her music home, and we were just about to go onstage to perform a concert. Or when the old car we were all in broke down.
But we had each other. We had our musical preparation. And we had prayer. (Prayer works!) That gig where we were without an instrument? Well, it just so happens that a mutual friend was at the wedding reception we were playing for, and he just happened to have his violin with him and was gracious enough to lend it to us. Jenny played all the viola parts for the next hour and a half on his violin, transposing the entire time. That time Angie, our cellist, didn't have her music for a performance? She played the entire quartet from memory. (Just wow. We didn't even know she didn't have her music; she didn't tell us until after the concert was over!) And that time when the old car had problems, thankfully someone thought to say a group prayer that we'd make it home safely. The car sputtered and strained for the last several miles, but we made it. It literally died the moment we pulled into the driveway. Permanently, I think . . . .
This group also prepared me for college. The other girls were my first roommates away from home, at a week-long music camp one summer in northern Utah when I was 16. They taught me easy, inexpensive meals, like dry Ramen noodles with egg. I learned new ideas for applying makeup, and fun group games that only required pen and paper, but had us rolling in stitches on the floor.
I still think one of the best parts about playing music is the people you get to know in the process. You get to experience one of God's great beauties; and you get to do it with remarkable friends. There's nothing quite like it. I am so grateful for all the memories.
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