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The Violin in My Life, Part 1 (By Russell Hoffmann)

by Valentina Jotovic on February 20, 2011

According to my parents, I began to express interest in the violin at age six. In those days there were no "Suzuki" type programs to send me to, nor the money to afford this. It was at age eight when I was finally allowed to begin learning to play the violin. This was at a summer music program in Flemington run by the late John Krauss and his wife Mary. The school, now known as the Intermediate School, Flemington Raritan Schools, where this program took place was located up the street where I had lived until age 6, Bonnell St., and the school where I began as a kindergartener. The speculation as to how I became interested in starting the violin was that I must have wandered away from home – an entire block, standing at the street corner listening to the music coming from the windows of the school. Yes, there was no air conditioning so the windows were all wide open hoping to catch a slight summer breeze, no matter how hot!

The summer music program, running about 6 weeks of the summer, provided me with a great start. One of my first teachers was John Krauss, even then a living legend not only in Flemington but in many areas - wow, I had lessons from the director of the entire summer program. Incidentally, I learned much later that it was John Krauss who had introduced my parents to each other while they were attending Flemington High School now known of course, as Hunterdon Central Regional High School a conglomerate of many excellent educational programs!

Coming back to first summer of playing the violin, frustrated by not being able to read the music from the String Builder Book 1 between my bow and bow hair, I continued on as my determination to play was much greater than any frustration which came with it – especially in the case of learning any stringed instrument. A mere FOUR WEEKS later, I had my first orchestral experience! Needless to say with only weeks of experience with the violin, I was lost in the music more than I knew where or when anything I was supposed to be playing, not unlike being thrown into the middle of a pool and not really knowing how to swim. However, it was a life changing experience. I knew from the beginning this is what I wanted to do!

To be continued

violin student

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