Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Tossing around the fiddle

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Suzanne with Violin2 - cropped 008Don’t worry now…I’m tossing it around in my head, not my hands. 😉 My last post was entitled “Where am I going?” I have specifically been thinking about that in regard to the violin. I’ve been tossing this over and over and OVER in my mind for a few months now. And I don’t think the tossing is going to stop anytime soon, but I’d still like to share a few of my thoughts about it.

Proverbs 4:26  “Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.”

Long Beach, WA

Long Beach, WA

My first question is, why did I ever start playing the violin? Let’s go back even further than that. Why did I ever start doing music? When I was just 5 years old my parents forced me to take piano lessons. I say forced because that is truly what they did. (And I’m so thankful, now.) Mom forced me to practice piano 30 minutes a day no matter what. I cried and cried, and merciful though she may be, she didn’t give in. I specifically remember the 10 pennies Mom would line up on the piano. She told me I had to play my piece perfectly. Each time I did, she’d give me a penny. Each time I messed up, she’d take a penny away! I didn’t get to stop until I had all 10 pennies. (To this day I use pennies when I’m practicing, I’ve just modified their use a bit.) And so I played the piano because my parents wanted me to. I put in the amount of effort required of me, but no more. By the time I was 14 I was a pretty decent pianist but had no ambition to earnestly pursue it. I didn’t love playing, but I didn’t dislike it either.

Suzanne - July 4thcropped

SWYSA July 4th Concert

And then one day, for who knows what reason, I remembered the violin that was stored away in the attic somewhere. When I was about 7, Matthew, Christina, and I had taken group violin lessons in Portland for a short while. I had HATED it and set the violin down for good, with no intention of ever touching it again.  But, the thought of pulling it out and picking out a couple hymns on the instrument was sounding like a great idea. So, I pulled that violin out of the attic, messed around a bit, and started playing a few hymns. After a couple days I was really taking a liking to the instrument. I have no idea what got into me, but I asked Mom if I could take lessons. And the rest is history. My piano practicing went from 1 dutiful hour a day to a desperate 30 minutes a month. My violin practicing started at 20 minutes a day and climbed the steepest incline I’ve ever known, maxing out at an obsessive 4 or 5 hours a day!

Ecc 9:10  “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do [it] with thy might; for [there is] no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”

Everything in life has a purpose outside of the obvious. Due to much dedication of time and effort, I have learned to play the violin. But I can’t even begin to list all of the other things I have learned along the way: diligence, trust, respect, self-confidence, determination, stamina, commitment, boldness, gratefulness, initiative, task-mastering techniques, people skills, how to deal with nerves…honestly, I could go on and on.


UPS Studio Recital 08

And so here I am. I’ve had over 15 years of private music lessons, attended music festivals and training courses, performed on numerous stages with multiple orchestras, I’ve soloed with an orchestra, taught music for about 7 years, received several scholarships for my playing, and almost have my BA degree in Music. So what!? I’m a Christian: a child of God, saved by grace through faith, called according to HIS purpose…not mine. Is the violin in HIS purpose for my life?

Gal 3:26  “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

Eph 2:8  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:”

2Ti 1:9  “Who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,”

Presently, I think I am supposed to continue to be faithful in my practicing, playing, and teaching. Music is a gift; what good is a gift if you don’t give it? How can I give the gift of music if I don’t practice? And how can others develop their God given talent without a teacher? My perspective must remain focused on the Lord and pleasing Him. My desire is to play for Him, when and where He wants me to play. And I need to be ready in season and out of season; therefore, I must be faithful in my practicing.

Psalm 33:3 “Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.”

Since I have shifted my focus (from striving to be the best violinist I can possibly be, to doing whatever it is the Lord wants me to do), the Lord has opened up several opportunities for me to play for Him in different situations. One Sunday morning I prayed that God would let me be a “giver” and not just a “getter” at Church. When I arrived at church, I was asked to play the special. Not long after that, an elderly man called and asked my brother and I to come play for him in his home; he was on his death bed. Thankfully we were able to fit that into our schedule right away. Not two weeks later we were playing for that same man’s memorial service.

Long Beach, WA

Long Beach, WA

It is certainly possible (and I think likely) that God doesn’t want my focus to be on music as much as it has been in the recent past. Looking back, I see that music was my master: If necessary I would get up at 4am or stay up until midnight just to fit my practicing into my day. I took my violin EVERYWHERE and strictly practiced 6 days a week. I lived to play. My journal is full of detailed accounts of my violin lessons and performances.

Matt 6:24 “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

I’ve noticed that my focus has indeed come away from my violin because I “forget” about it regularly now. This isn’t a good thing in every way, as it’s important to take good care of my valueable instrument. One Wednesday night I got busy fellowshiping with people after church and went out to my car WITHOUT my violin. When I came back in after it someone said, “Did you forget your violin!? I never thought I’d see the day!!” When I played for that memorial service, I forgot my violin in the car for the rest of the afternoon while I went hunting…and discovered it was still in the car when I got to Portland that evening to do some street evangelism. That wasn’t good because it was really cold outside (which is dangerous for the instrument). But, so far it has survived my neglectful treatment. But you see, I used to feel like I was forgetting something if my violin wasn’t slung over my shoulder. Now it is my Bible I check for when I walk out of the house.

And then, the Lord has blessed me with multiple violin/piano students to teach. It is a job I enjoy so much that I regularly forget it is a job. Sharing the gift of music; investing in kids lives; enjoying the talent God has given to me and to my students…my “job” is a blessing. And when I think about my violin from this perspective; not practicing is as irresponsible as not showing up for work.

1Corinthians 9:25  “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they [do it] to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.”

1 Corinthians 10:31 “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

Pro 23:4  “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.”

Pro 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

“Sometimes we just keep doing things because God hasn’t showed us NOT to do them”

Yup, that’s a lot to think about. 😀

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I [am] God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Proverbs 4:26  “Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.”

Fall Studio Recital

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Fall Studio Recital

Friday, December 11th at 7:00pm

Woodland Christian Church: 430 Buckeye St, Woodland WA, 98674

Violin and Piano students of Suzanne Farnell will be playing a variety of pieces from the beginning to advanced levels. Please come and enjoy. Your attendance would be an encouragement to the performers.

Included on program:

The William Tell Overture, Arkansas Traveler and other fun, simplified duets

A few hymn arrangements for violin and piano

Violin Concerto in A minor, 3rd mvt, by Vivaldi

Violin Concerto in D minor for two violins, 1st mvt, by Bach

Group photo - Suzanne's Studio

Group photo - Suzanne's Studio