Hands

Hands

A Story by Eun Jee Nikki Kang

When people first meet me, they ask to hold my hands. They are curious to see what a violinist’s hands look like, expecting long, beautiful, slender fingers; they find the opposite: stubby, short, frog like. You can see the utter disappointment in their faces, but I am not offended. My hands tell the story of ten excruciating but exultant years. My hands are flawed in their appearance: calluses at their fingertips, broken skin around my torn nails, darkened knuckles and joints, but they tell my story.

            When I was young my conductor introduced me to a Julliard graduate, Joseph Esmilla. To become his student, I had to pass his audition. Although many sought to be his student, he chose me. It was the best day of my life. Soon this joy dissipated into misery. He spent hours on perfecting one measure; he screamed at me for notes played out of tune and debased me for ruining the piece. Enduring his constant criticisms was humiliating and discouraging. I would come home and bury my face in my pillow letting the tears flow into. Sometimes I would be so frustrated that I would swear at my violin. But I never gave up because I am not a quitter. So I stopped crying. I skipped meals to practice, spent weekends reading about the history of my pieces and started listening to recordings every evening.

Comparing my performance to the recordings stimulated my quest for perfection. I no longer cheated by playing the wrong notes when I thought people would not notice; I played each note with significant emotion and, soon enough, all of the notes became intrinsic to an extraordinarily beautiful story. Noticing my resolve, my teacher complimented me, “Good Job! Now that is music.” The same tears that hid themselves after every lesson trickled down my face, only this time out of happiness. I finally gained my teacher’s. I realized that he wanted me to play each piece with my full potential regardless of who is listening, because he believed that music deserved to be played at its very best. I realized the greatest lesson he wanted me to learn was to play music with vitality, meaning, and most importantly passion.

My teacher and I have since parted ways, but my hands still remind me of the reason why I play with such fervor and tenacity. They remind me not to undermine the power of practice, pain, and perseverance, to understand the potency of love and passion in performance, and to always play with clarity and integrity. My hands are not the ideal hands for the violin, but with the sweetness they conjure, to me, they have become beautiful.

© 2012 Eun Jee Nikki Kang


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Featured Review

I love this. Being a violinist myself, I can understand what you're saying. But I'm pretty sure you don't need to be a violinist to realize how this is such a beautiful story. You used such perfect words to describe everything, it's wonderful!

Keep writing!

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

I love this. Being a violinist myself, I can understand what you're saying. But I'm pretty sure you don't need to be a violinist to realize how this is such a beautiful story. You used such perfect words to describe everything, it's wonderful!

Keep writing!

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This is beautiful! I look forward to judging. The language you've used and the way you've used it is beautiful, and it really fits in with the piece. I also love how you didn't make it a disability as in one you were born with; you created one out of experience, and that's really good. Good luck in the contest! :)

Posted 8 Years Ago



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Added on April 29, 2012
Last Updated on April 29, 2012
Tags: hands, joseph esmilla, violin, calluses, performance, music