Jimmy's Blog

Ramblings, Rantings, Poems and Stories

…and the HPYO has been UPGRADED.

Ah, the Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. From the time I asked my mom if I could try her violin, that was my goal. She took me to see concerts occasionally, and I loved to just relax and let the music wash over me. The HPO’s music was too deep for my three-year-old self; plus, although the HPYO was full of big kids, the HPO was comprised of REALLY big kids. So that was my goal. In the seemingly infinite amount of time it would take to be a Big Kid, I would achieve enough awesomeness to become a member.

I asked mom to try her violin. She laughed and said that it was waaaaaaay too big for me. I persisted. I was horrid. Mom said that she’d ask her friend Nadeen, who had three children going through violin lessons, and that she would try to find me lessons within the month.

I remember that we almost got lost on the way to the first lesson. I was giddy with exitement; in my three-year-oldness, I was sure I’d just start dancing and playing perfectly without any kind of instruction whatsoever. But Bethany didn’t let me try the violin at first. She had me try a cardboard box with a paint stirrer glued.

My first major accomplishment was when I was permitted to use the real deal. Mom and Bethany were confident from the cardboard box that I wouldn’t drop it, and so they let me try it. By the end of the lesson, I could play three notes relatively in tune; and I was as happy in that delirious, hyper way that only three-year-olds can be.

My mom had me practicing all week. Soon I could play Twinkle Twinkle Little star, and impressed my grandparents by singing and playing at the same time. I steadily progressed through the Suzuki method, coming to what I believed to be a climax, at the final piece in book one: Gavotte by Gossic. It was about ten times more difficult than anything I’d ever played; after months working on it, I finally mastered it to perform in consert for  all of Burlington Suzuki. I will remember that day forever.

Book 2 came and went, challenging me, and although it was plenty difficult, nothing as satisfactory as Gossic Gavotte came along. Early in book 3, Bethany moved to Oakville, and that was too much of a drive for us. I switched to Hamilton Suzuki, and at first I resented my new teacher, Lorainne, for the simple fact that she was not Bethany. But by book 4 I had recognised her as a quality teacher, and was learning well.

I was, by that time, a pretty skilled musician. So I was ready to tackle the next Gossic Gavotte: The Bach Double, known formally as Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor, violin two. Once that is conquered, the conqueror is considered a real musician: that they haven’t given up, that they’re serious about playing the violin, that they can, in fact, make a pleasant soud.

It took me six months. I cried, I whined, I punched my pillow, but I practiced over and over and by March, my fingers knew their stuff. At my graduation, my fingers flew as mom struggled to keep up; but we had rehearsed countless times and we got through with only one minor error on each part. I grinned madly as I was given my certificate; I felt that I had been sparring with a more-than-worthy opponent, and that, after hours of fighting, had finally knocked him down.

It was a year later last April, when I was working on the Bach Double, violin ONE,  (the last piece in in book five),when it happened. Up until then, I hadn’t been noticing  real improvement; but violin one took me less than a month. I was awestruck. That such a great challenge had, a year ago, tested me so thoroughly, could be completed in such a short time now… I shook my head. My mom commented that it was the time of year that the HPYO was holding tryouts, and that I stood a good chance of getting in. By this time thoughts of joining the HPYO had all but faded from my head; but still, the thought made me ecstatic. We were emailed music of the level of difficulty needed to join; they were challenging, but I mastered them. I also polished up the piece I had just learned: The Gigue by Verachinni.

I was more nervous than I’d ever been when I played. I played Gigue at breakneck speed, and shifted to 7th position when I had to shift to 6th in one of my pieces. But I calmly named all of my mistakes, and, seeing that I knew what to practice, a week later I recieved an email that I was in.


This is a historically accurate record of what I was thinking for the week afterwards. All summer I practiced, and I greatly improved after a week at the Southwestern Ontario Suzuki Institute, or SOSI. By the first rehearsal, I was pumped and ready for anything they threw at me.

The music was inSANELY difficult, but I didn’t sighn up to play Twinkle Twinkle. Everyone was very nice, and I practised all week. Laurainne had plenty of tips for me, and I quickly improved. Two weeks of sectionals had a huge effect on the whole orchestra; we sounded great on week four.

By now, we’ve been through tons together; we’ve eaten frozen pancakes with 5-months-past expiry syrup; we’ve laughed at Die Fladermaus; and in may we’re going to New Orleans.

With our first consert less than a month away, I couldn’t be more frantic or exited. After nine long years of continus effort…

…the HPYO has been UPGRADED.

3 Responses to “…and the HPYO has been UPGRADED.”

  1.   anniebelle79 Says:

    Very nice….spelling!!!

  2.   dwcaius24 Says:

    i’m confused? what’s my name again???

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