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Everyone's a critic!

You know some people say that dogs and children don't mix? Well in my opinion dogs and violins don't mix. I have recently started to learn to play the violin. I can play piano a little, and quite a few woodwind instruments ( it's all the same basic concept - a tube with holes to make pitch variations), but stringed instruments have always eluded me. I was bought my first guitar when I was under ten years old. Now, quite a few years later, I still only know a few chords, and most of those I get wrong. I also take ages to change from one chord to the next.

So I decided to ask for a violin for Christmas. Not Christmas just gone, oh no, this was way back in Christmas 2007. I was so excited about my violin. I took it out of its case and put the bow across it a few times and it wasn't too bad. Quite a promising start. I took it with me to relatives' houses and inflicted it on them too. Until a relative with perfect pitch (the ability to hear a note and instinctively know what it is) told me the violin was out of tune. I tuned it, and started to bow, only to be informed it had detuned again. The whole process became too tiresome. I lacked the technical knowledge of the instrument, I didn't know how it worked, and pretty soon the poor violin was languishing in its case again.

And there it languished until this Christmas, when I realised with pangs of guilt that I had made absolutely no progress with it. So, I arranged some lessons. Thus far I've had two, and the help of a professional has been incredible. I am beginning to find the fingering position for notes, the sound I produce isn't too hideous, and I am really pleased with myself. Someone in my house is not so pleased though. I think.

It became apparent early on that Buddy was greatly affected by my violin playing. As soon as the first note emanates from the instrument, he starts puffing his cheeks out, and this soon grows to a whine, which escalates to a full bodied howl, with his head tilted back, muzzle pointed skyward. His howls grow in volume until I can barely hear my own playing (a blessing some uncharitable souls might say) which is a disadvantage when I am still in the learning stage of not being too sure which string I am actually playing. Interestingly, Star takes no notice whatsoever.

I thought he was upset by the sound I was making, then I noticed his tail was wagging. He would stand by me, and every time I played a note he would howl, but his tail would be wagging all the time. So what was going on? Was he asking me to shut up? Was he singing along? Did he think this was a bonding howl type thing?

I don't know really. What I do know is that it's a blooming pain, because I can't hear my playing, so I can't be sure of how much progress I'm making. I'm sure I am getting better, because those odd times when Buddy takes a breath, and my playing is heard loud and clear, Anthony and Jenny wince less and less often. Definitely a step in the right direction. Who knows how good I'll be by next Christmas. I could be entertaining the family with a medley of seasonal favourites. Probably there won't be a dry eye in the house, but one thing's for sure - my faithful hound with be right at my side, howling for all he's worth. Maybe I should have stuck to the kazoo?

Take care,

Julie x

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