When The DailyER sent me to watch your 11-year-old daughter play violin in her 6th-grade orchestra’s Fall Concert at Mickle Middle School, my expectations were high. Sure, your daughter, Stephanie, has only played the violin for a few months, and this was her very first public performance. And with so many great violinists dominating today’s musical landscape, it would certainly take a lot for Stephanie to stand out from the crowd. But I had full confidence in her abilities.
Needless to say, the concert was an absolute disaster.
As someone with highly refined musical tastes, the instrument your daughter chose immediately brought some major names to my well-educated mind: Itzhak Perlman, Mark O’Connor, Hilary Hahn. These days, a connoisseur like myself can simply flip on NPR to hear the sweet sounds of the violin – they hardly have to make a 20-minute drive to sit in a cold middle school gym for an hour. To impress me, a musician has to bring something truly unique to the table, and Stephanie’s performance simply did not deliver.
From the moment the concert began, I was struck by how utterly indistinguishable Stephanie’s sound was from the other violinists in her orchestra, not to mention in countless orchestras across the country. With the violin market so saturated, one has to question why your daughter chose such a competitive instrument to showcase her limited talents and lack of originality. Perhaps she’d be better off in the woodwind or percussion section, or just quitting music altogether and joining the track team or something.
One major flaw which my expertly trained ear picked up on was the lack of complexity, both musically and emotionally. As a reviewer with high standards, I expected to be moved to tears by the depth of Stephanie’s renditions of these classic compositions, but instead found her command of the material to be surface-level at best. To be quite honest, the sounds emanating from her violin were so cliched that I found myself nodding off several times during the show.
Even in my sleep, I could play the violin better than this garbage.
The concert wasn’t all bad, though. For example, the cookies served during intermission were exceptionally soft and tasty, making me forget, for a brief moment, about the remaining 30 minutes of uninspired Beethoven covers I still had to endure. Another positive point I noted was the conveniently short line to use the bathroom, where the walls muffled the sound of your daughter’s playing to the point where its vapidness was barely detectable.
If Stephanie wants to establish herself as a true artist, however, she’ll have to focus on making a few key adjustments. One idea I had that might help is for her to throw her violin into a nearby lake or river and never touch a musical instrument again in her life. If that proves to be too difficult, she could at least ask her conductor to increase the number of cookie breaks to one per song, in a desperate attempt to keep audiences distracted enough to not fully comprehend how hopelessly inadequate her creative capabilities truly are.
I know criticism can sound harsh, but I’m just trying to help.