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A Violin Story

When I started learning to play the violin while in high school in the mid-50s, the instrument I used belonged to a cousin of my mom who was a violin teacher. At the time, I did not wonder why he decided to part with it. (Professional violinists and aficionados consider their violins an inseparable treasure, even like a wife.) But looking back, I guess he wanted someone in the family to inherit or carry on his love for music through his beloved instrument, or to make sure it would be in good hands when he passed away. He was an elderly bachelor.

That violin looked very old and both its shape and the sound quality were different from the violins of three of my friends who were also taking lessons. Their violins were newer and looked more shiny and attractive. Mine had a dark faded varnish showing signs of constant use and age. It had a fuller sound quality, but as a beginner, I did not recognize it. It had a different scroll, a lion’s head with its red tongue sticking out of its mouth (which in my puerile ignorance and stupidity I pulled out). I thought it was weird for a violin scroll. That was my first violin.

For many years I stopped playing the instrument altogether. When I decided to resume, I bought a new one, and then a more expensive one, but not expensive enough to help me play better. Another violin I got was not much playable either. So I had my old one shipped from my native country and painfully discovered it was broken -- the neck and fingerboard were detached, as was the tailpiece. The ribs had a crack on one side and the top and back were almost falling apart in the seams. The store I bought my new violin from sent it to their luthier who pronounced the verdict that it was not repairable and so returned it to me. But I kept it for its sentimental value.

Recently, I saw on YouTube videos showing step by step how new violins are made and broken ones repaired. I sent pictures of my broken violin to a luthier based in the Netherlands who has a YouTube channel and asked if it had value and if he could restore it. He replied that by the scroll and its appearance, it is a German violin made in the early 1900s and could fetch a very good price after it is restored. He gave me a quote (enough for me to buy a new one) and even offered to buy it from me for a small price as there would be a lot of work to be done on it. He just wanted to use it for another YouTube repair video and offer it for sale afterward.

I had not realized my old violin is that valuable and precious. (No wonder my violin teacher offered to buy it from me after I quit taking lessons.) Neither did I know that that antique-looking violin, which gave joy to its previous owner and me, now broken into so many pieces, can still be repaired and restored by expert and patient hands.

However, after much thought, I decided not to sell my broken violin to that professional violin restorer. I will restore it myself with the knowledge and instructions given in many Do-It-Yourself (DIY) videos. It will take me some time and require me to buy some special tools. But in the end, the violin will stay mine and I will be able to produce again on it the music that in my youth gave me so much feeling of fulfillment and joy.

As I start preparing to restore my old violin, some thoughts have come to mind:

Are we not all like precious violins made by the Divine "Violin Maker"? Just like the famous violin makers Stradivari, Amati and Guarnieri crafted precious instruments that bear their name and pleased the ears and touched the hearts of music lovers worldwide, our Creator named us after Himself and made us for a reason -- to produce glorious music through a life that reflects His beauty, love, mercy and glory. Like my precious violin that has become broken into pieces through years of neglect and disuse, we as precious creations of God at times experience brokenness caused by the storms of life, adversities and human frailty and we are tempted to lose hope that we can ever be made whole again. But like my broken violin that can still be repaired by its owner who values it and wants to keep it, we have our Maker who has the infinite power and desire to restore us and keep us for Himself . . . forever! #


"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3

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