Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Finding that Dream Violin After Years of Searching...

Written by Stefan Aune

Here at Fein Violins we often get feedback from our customers regarding the instruments they purchase. Nothing makes us happier than being able to help someone achieve that perfect sound, or track down an instrument with just the right look or feel. Every so often we get feedback from a customer that is particularly personal or moving, and it is just such a story I want to share with you today. About a year ago, Jim Y. purchased a violin from us that connected back to his early life growing up in China during the cultural revolution, and his longing for a particular violin in a department store window that was, sadly, financially out of reach. What follows is Jim's story, reproduced verbatim, so that he can tell you in his own words how special a new instrument can be.

Thank you for your email. It has been a very pleasant experience when talking with you over the phone, and reading your emails. It's not like dealing with a sales person or business owner, but like talking with good friends.

I don't want to waste your time reading my emails, knowing you must be busy with the business. Still, I just can't help telling you my gratitude on getting the wonderful violin from you. From the following story, you may get a sense of how elated and gratified I am to have stumbled upon the people and the violin from Fein Violins.

I had genuine interests in music as a kid. As teenager, I was among the millions of mid-schoolers to be sent to the countryside to do farmwork (so called by the then president Chairman Mao, to "receive re-education from the poor and middle class peasants"). In the countryside, we toiled with all sorts of farmwork every day and saw no future. 

 Then, I happenedd to find the VOA (Voice of America) radio station broadcasting in Chinese. It had a 30-minute classical music program every night. I became a loyal listener of this program no matter how tired I was from the day's hard farmwork. This program had a short introduction of the composer, and sometimes of what the music expresses, for every piece. I remember I was deeply moved by Dvorak's New World symphony, second movement. The introduction described the composer as getting inspiration from a lyric he heard in an Indian tribal leader's funeral. Dvorak used this lyric as the main theme in the second movement. And from it, he embedded his homesick feelings. Listening to it after the introduction, I actually was able to sense the homesick emotion in the piece, and was deeply, deeply moved -- I was very homesick at that time.

Then, I decided to play something as a hobby. Since I was so entranced by the sound of the violins I heard from VOA's broadcastings - symphonies, concerti, etc, I bought a violin for 30 yuan (Chinese workers made an average 18 yuan a month at that time, and we farmers made barely enough for food). No teachers, no sheet music, no recordings to listen to. At that time, they were considered "anti-revolutionary". I played by myself, tried to get any helpful hints from anybody who knew a little about the instrument, and hand-copied every score I could get my hands on, and tried in every way I could do to "improve the sounds and looks", like spending 22 Yuan on an ebony, white horse hair bow, cutting bridges myself, getting expensive strings (well, 5 yuan per set) in Beijing whenever I was back home from the countryside... for some five years...silly things just to safisfy my love of the violin.

Then I saw a 500 yuan violin on display and for sale at a big department store in my home city. I didn't dare to have a dream having it - the price was astronomical, but I simply fell in love with it. Whenever possible, I would walk to the store (some 50 minutes walk one way), to look at it -- the color shade (wasn't able to make out what flames were on the back, because it was displayed face-up), the expensive look! Oh! Each time I would just stand there looking at it for a long while before I could tear myself away from the counter.

Then one day it was gone. I was like.... well.

I have been a great violin lover, and genuinely keen for the sound they make in symphonies, concerti, solo pieces (by my amateurish judgements), and stupidly entranced by the instrument's looks. Even now, whenever I watch performances, see people playing in subway stations, or look at the violins of my daughter's friends, I just can't help from thinking: "... well, the color is a little too redish... a little two yellowish...it looks new, it looks inexpensive.. looks too old, not appealing to my eye even if it may have a good sound... All those things I know are silly, but I just can't help it.

When I first opened the case and looked at the violin [you sent me], wow! The color is a little different than when looking at it from the photos, but just what I had been dreaming, very much like the one I spent so much time looking at a long time ago! Plus, it has the beautiful flames I have been dreaming of, the beautiful rosewood pegs and chinrest which I hadn't imagined so beautiful, the beautiful antique look -- all satisfy my stupid judgements. And it really has a warm sound that moves my feelings (when it was played by our violinist friend -- one passage she played, which moved me greatly, was the opening part of Tchaikovsky's violin concerto first movement, and some passages in the second movement. She made favorable comments about the $1000 bow after she played several of Paganini's pieces, and the "Flight of the Bumble Bee").

I can see that my daughter had a stupid love for it at the very beginning -- many times she would be reluctant to have adults (our friends), and refuse to allow kids, to lay their hands on it! Now she loves it more and more as she's getting more adjusted to [playing a full size].

Well, Andy and Debra, after all of the above nonsense, I hope you will [understand] why I am so stupidly picky at a violin's looks, and why I am so greately in love with this one.

No more stupid stories from now on.

Over-satisfied customer of FeinViolins,
Jim Y.


Jim's story certainly isn't stupid! It means a great deal to us that were were able to help him track down a violin that recalls the beautiful instrument in the department store window from so many years ago. Stories such as this one should remind us all that finding the right instrument is a very personal process. We should also remember that music, whether played or listened to, is a privilege that not everyone has access to. Even though Fein Violins is a business, we are all musicians who love to perform, listen to, and share music with others, and helping people access the world of music never gets old. Thank you to Jim Y. for sharing his story with us - hopefully it will inspire others to track down that perfect instrument.

1 comment:

  1. An amazing story, gives me new appreciation for the New World Symphony. Warmed my heart on this cold day!

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