Years ago, it was a love-hate thing. There were moments when I felt I had mastered it, but many more when it beat me. I chose it to be different, and to escape comparison. The teachers were the same, to begin with – all keeping me playing in the same clef as I would have done before. Then I started with a real teacher, and with him I got a small glimpse into its wonders. I worked hard, hearing what it could sound like in the hands of an expert, and feeling the duty to succeed. But there were too many other pressures, and I had to set it aside. I never had a flair for it, and the work it needed was too much. Maybe I thought that one day I would pick it up again and play better than I ever did before. But maybe then it didn’t matter either way to me.
There have been times since when I’ve picked it up again, but mostly, the pain of the unpractised sounds it made turned me away again. I’m ashamed of it, or of my absence of skill. For someone to hear, when they’ve always called me musical, would be humiliating.
It’s been five years, at least, since I played my viola, and it still haunts my conscience. I imagine it sitting there at the back of a cupboard, closed up, strings breaking, dust claiming its rich lustre, and I’m bothered.
Perhaps today, I will get it out again. Perhaps tomorrow.