Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why I hope the Orange Line never automates announcements

"Next stop, Forest Hills...what am I talking about, 'Forest Hills'. Next stop, Back Bay station."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Close enough for jazz...wait

Me (pointing to treble clef): What's this called?
12-year-old student: A clef.
Me: Right, what kind of clef?
Student: Um...the big fancy clef?

I'd so much rather have students come up with this kind of answer than stare blankly for what seems like hours.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why is it that...

...every time I see one of my colleagues/families/someone who can get me gigs, I'm invariably a) playing something I'm not entirely secure with, b) having mechanical difficulties, c) attacked by a sudden onset of nerves, or d) all of the above?

C'est la guerre, I suppose.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


From a fourth-grade student, whom I am forever hassling to play louder: I'm gonna play it so loud, my butt will go crazy!

(No, I don't know exactly what she meant, nor do I want to.)

Same student, different lesson, re: Gossec Gavotte: They should call it the Gothic Gavotte and I could wear all black except then I'd have to go out and buy black nail polish and black lipstick.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Where DOES the time go?

How is it almost Thanksgiving? I'm not done with August...or 2009...yet.

I regularly play a fiddle tune called Red Wing, which is also the tune of Union Maid. I think Davis Square may be the only station at which two separate people would burst into the song when they heard it.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


Well, it's two quotes from different days, but the same student.

1) (A low-flying plane passes overhead, loudly) "It wasn't me!"

2) *while staring at tip of bow moving in circles* "I'm hypnotizing myself so I can eat candy."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I'll take it!

I have one family in which I'm teaching a nine-year-old violist, a five-year-old violinist and Mom. Mom's learning some bluegrass fiddle. I suggested that she get a certain book so she and the violist could play together, and she said, "I'd like that, but he insists on only playing classical music. I suppose there are worse things he could be a stickler about."

Ah, how well I remember being a classical-only snob and missing out on a whole lot of music from the '80s. And my parents were more into folk music and light rock. Now I have to listen to classic rock stations to supplement my education.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Teaching fun

(N.B. "Amy" is not this student's real name.)

Me: Did you loosen your bow?...Did you loosen your bow? Amy? Amy? AMY?
Amy, startled: What?
Me: What did I just say twice?
Amy: name?
Me and her mom: *hysterical laughter*

Yes, dear, but...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The power of thought

I was just thinking the other day how long it had been since I'd been hit on while busking by someone totally unsuited to me.

Yesterday at Park Street, a guy asked how long I'd been playing violin.

"Since fourth grade, so quite a while."

"Do you chase the men, or do men chase you?"

"...(oh). I'm married."

"Aw. I was totally about to ask you out."

"Heh, sorry."

"Do you know anyone who's single? Seeing a beautiful woman with a stringed instrument just does something to me."

"(I don't want to know what.) No, sorry. Don't miss your train."

"Huh? Oh, oh yeah."

"Bye! (Oy.)"

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Seasonal difficulties

A student of mine was complaining about having to go to religious school in the fall. Her mother calmly explained that attending religious school is part of being Jewish.

Later, on the way out...

Mom, to me: Happy New Year!
Student: What do you mean, Happy New Year? It's nowhere near January.
Me, to student: That is why you have to go to religious school.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I'm not sure what you're king of, sir...

OK, I don't care how well-phrased and polite your "I need a dollar for public transportation" speech is, you lose all credibility the second you're a grown man wearing a Burger King crown, especially when you're alone and nowhere near a Burger King. And if you really need to catch the #1 bus, you're not going to have much luck at Roxbury Crossing. I realize that walking to Dudley in the rain would have made your crown soggy, sir, but that still won't make the #1 bus stop at Roxbury Crossing.

Should I be offended?

So yesterday, a youngish guy came up to me and handed me his business card and told me he teaches musicians about nutrition because his mother died of cancer. (That's a summary; he was slightly more coherent than that.) Seems to have something to do with wheatgrass juice.

I mean, I know I'm fat, but do I really look that bad? (That's rhetorical, son.)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Reminder to self... not greet the news from a parent that their child has been practicing by breaking into a rousing chorus of "Miracle of Miracles".

Cuteness and quackery

Two children, a boy around 8 and a girl around 4 came up to watch me play. When I paused, the little girl asked me my name. I told her, asked her hers, got an answer, after which she buried her face in her brother's shoulder (in a cute-shy way, not a scared-shy way). Brother said, "She wants to know if she can pet the duck."

I should probably introduce y'all to the duck at some point.

Anyway, I said yes, and she patted its little stuffed head and scampered off, happy as could be.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Under where?

I'm contemplating how to institute a no-underpants policy in my in-home teaching.

No, no, it's not like that. Good Lord, what do you people think???

What I mean is:

1) I do not want to see anybody's underpants on the floor, even if it is their own room.

2) I would vastly prefer it if every member of the household over diaper age wore pants or some other underwear-covering garment while I'm there.

3) I do not ever want to hear an adult member of the household calling down the stairs about how he needs to get himself more underwear. (Note: This was funny, not creepy, but still.)

Thank you.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Almost, but not quite, I think

I had a conversation the other day with a saxophonist in the Public Garden. Well, in honesty, it was less of a conversation and more of a monologue on his part, but that's OK. He has a lot of opinions about music, which is well and good, except I'm of the mindset that when a topic is introduced with which you are unfamiliar, it's really just fine to admit your unfamiliarity and move on.

To wit: Bluegrass, while certainly influenced by jazz and blues, is not "just white people trying to play the blues"; there's a bunch of other stuff in there. In the words of Bill Monroe, bluegrass is "Scottish bagpipes and ole-time fiddlin'. It's Methodist and Holiness and Baptist. It's blues and jazz, and it has a high lonesome sound. It's plain music that tells a good story. It's played from my heart to your heart, and it will touch you. Bluegrass is music that matters."

Also, yes, the musical Oliver! is based on a novel by Charles Dickens, but Dickens was long gone by the time of the musical. Oliver! premiered in London in 1960, was written by Lionel Bart, and had little to do with Rogers and Hammerstein and even less to do with Currier and Ives.

(As a side note, I just learned that Nathaniel Currier was born in Roxbury. That's pretty cool.)

I mean, the saxophonist might have been drawing some kind of parallel between Dickensian culture and modern theatre, but if he was, it got lost somewhere along the way.

He was also trying to explain jazz progressions to me, which is fine, but as deeply steeped in classical training as I am, I think I would need to start with My First Jazz Chart by Kenner.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


A girl, probably around eight years old, came up and said, "You know what would be a good song for you to play? Beethoven."

I asked if there was anything in particular by Beethoven she wanted.

"Oh, I don't know the names of anything. Just, you know, Beethoven."

So I played Ode to Joy, and she seemed happy.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The sun may come out...

So I'm playing for a show soon, let's say it's Annie. Just so happens one of my students has a younger sibling by that name. Said sibling was having a rough time being quiet and listening to mom at a recent lesson. When they left, this exchange occurred:

Mom, to me: Good luck with Annie!
Me: Thanks! *looks at sibling* You too!
Mom: *sighs* Yeah.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Maybe ask someone else...

No, I don't mind that you interrupt my playing to ask a question. Yes, I live here. No, I don't know where to eat around here, especially if you don't want to eat at Cheers. There's a place across the Garden, about halfway down the block, with good sandwiches, but I don't remember what it's called. I eat at Starbucks, mostly. Sometimes at the ice cream truck. Sorry. Enjoy your stay in Boston!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sentence unlikely to be heard outside a violin lesson...

"Mom, can you fix my Kun* while I tighten my frog?"

*pronounced "koon"

From out and about

I was walking past a preschool in my neighborhood. An older woman was walking behind me. A young man who works at the preschool had two toddlers in hand.

Relevant information: The toddlers were very dark skinned. The woman behind me was somewhat lighter than they were. I am as white as white can be...I do have a tan from being outside, but still.

Toddler 1, upon seeing me: That's my mommy!
Toddler 2: No, that's MY mommy!
1: NO, that's MY mommy!
2: NOOOO, that's MY mommy!

They pass me. From behind me, I hear:

1: That's not my mommy.
2: No, that's not MY mommy!

Then they see the woman behind me....

1: That's my mommy!
2: No, that's MY mommy!

Neither she nor I were, in fact, either of these children's mommies. But they were oh so very cute.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Again not musical

I was on the bus the other day, and a boy who appeared to be around eight or nine had clutched in his fist a sheaf of papers, on the top of which was written in eight- or nine-year-old boy writing:

"AVETAR: The Last Ear Bender"

Close enough for me.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Nowt to do with music...

...summat to do with Boston.

I was sitting at the bus stop, engrossed in Sudoku, when a woman came up and asked if she could ask me a question.

I won't do a verbatim transcription, but I will say: Asking me for money is one thing. When I say I don't have any cash, asking if we can't go to the bank is quite another.

Also, don't touch me.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


From a four-year-old student: "I have a really good remembory."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I love kids' brains sometimes...

The following conversation took place with one of my students who is disturbingly smart, but occasionally lacks a bit in the common sense department. (Note: I'm the same way, only she's smarter than I've ever been.)

Student: The music's hard to read.
Fiddler: Yes, I think there's a reason for that.
S: I don't know what that reason is.
F: Well...think about it.
S: Hm...the music's kind of curved, so it's at a weird angle.
F: True, but that's not the current problem.
S: I don't know.
F: What are some reasons that people sometimes can't see things?
S: Sometimes things are too far away, but I'm really close to the music.
F: Right. What else?
S: Some people have poor eyesight, but my vision is perfect, so it's not that.
F: Also right. What else?
S: *ponders extensively* I just don't know.
F: What time of day is it?
S: OH! It's DARK in here! Maybe I should turn on the light!
F: Maybe you should.

*cue blinking as eyes try to adjust to sudden flood of light*

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Too Darn Hot...

I've hardly been busking at all, what with the ridiculous temperatures (whaddya think this is, summer or something?) and the failure of whatever rain we do get to ameliorate said temperatures or humidity.

Exhibit A: Melted cats (note: we do have an air conditioned room. They do not generally choose to stay in it. I occasionally open the door and yell, "You're all stupid!" at them.)

However, I think this is relevant, since I do much of my summer busking near the Make Way for Ducklings statue. (found via Universal Hub)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

That was different

So I'd intended to write a post about how I'm busking again, and how lovely, if hot, the Public Garden was the other day, and how I'd actually missed it, but then...

I was waiting for the T at an above-ground Green Line stop, reading a book, when a largeish middle-aged Russian man came up and started talking to me.

"You play wiolin?"
"I have kvestchun for you."

He asked why it is that violinists don't sing and play at the same time, like guitarists and pianists do. He hypothesized that it's because the violin presses on the vocal cords, so we can't. He suggested maybe if we held the violin differently, like putting it on a table, then we could.

I suggested that it might also be because it's much more difficult to play chords on the violin than on either guitar or piano, both of which are designed for such things. (In my case, it's because I'm not that coordinated, but that's a personal problem.) He blinked at me and then continued, at which point I realized this was not destined to be a conversation per se. So I kept nodding and smiling.

Eventually, he went away, and I watched him wander across the parking lot.

Five minutes later, he came back and informed me that I needed to be careful, because so many famous violinists had died young of throat cancer because of the violin pressing against their necks. He specifically cited Paganini and David Oistrakh as examples. Then he went away again.

Blessedly, the train appeared at that point. Of course, I needed to know what he was talking about, so I pulled out my trusty iPhone to check somewhat-less-trusty-but-generally-reasonably-accurate-about-such-matters-Wikipedia.

Niccolo Paganini
lived from 1782-1840 and died at the age of 57 from general poor health, now thought to have been correlated with Marfan syndrome. OK, The Google, blessed be it, shows that Paganini's Facebook page does say he died of throat cancer, as do a few other hits, but I never think Yahoo! Answers is the place to go for reliability. Entertainment, sure.

David Oistrakh lived from 1908-1974 and died at the age of 66 from a heart attack.

Regardless of the facts, it was rather surreal to be warned that I might get throat cancer from my violin.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Dear Parents of My Students,

I always feel just terrible when I give my students a lecture or "that look" for not having practiced/acquired/learned something, and then I find out it's because the adult didn't write down the assignment/get the book/reviewed the material. Especially when the parent isn't in the room. Granted, especially with kids who can read, I don't accept much of the "my mom didn't tell me to" when I know the assignment was written down...particularly when I'm the one who wrote it*...but it makes my job easier and less guilt-inducing if you can follow through.

Or if you don't, let me know. I'm fairly forgiving, because I can barely keep track of my own stuff and I don't have kids, but when I've been assigning preview listening for three months, the student has no idea what I'm talking about, I lecture kid, and THEN I find out the CD was never gotten, and it's at the point where we really need it now...I don't really enjoy making children cry.**


The Violin Teacher

*My handwriting is admittedly atrocious, but everyone has my e-mail address for clarification.


Monday, March 22, 2010

That was a little disturbing

Oft of an evening, by the time I get myself to Brookline Village, I decide I'm too tired to walk or bus the rest of the way home, and I catch a cab.

Usually, everything's fine, but last time...

I headed over to the cab stand and got in the first cab I saw*, told the driver where I was headed and then noticed that there had been a cab in front of the one I entered, but all its lights were off, so I didn't see it. I am aware of cab etiquette as far as choosing the frontmost cab at a cab stand, but that cab was mostly invisible at the time.

So "my" cabbie started driving, and suddenly the frontmost cab started honking and swerved in front of him cutting him off. That cabbie was yelling in a language I don't understand, but my cabbie did. My cabbie first told me to go to the other cab, but as I was reaching for the door handle, the other cabbie kept yelling louder and bringing his cab closer, and then my cabbie told me to stay in the cab and he'd take me anyway.

I'm glad he did; even if I had gotten out of the cab, I wasn't about to get in the other one, with that driver so angry. I made an honest mistake, and my cabbie did tell me to get into his cab, and I was afraid of the other driver. What I found most interesting is that both cabs were from Town Taxi. (Ah, a quick search of The Google, blessed be it, shows that Town Taxi is an independent dispatcher.)

Lately, I only like getting cabs from Veteran's Taxi in Newton; with one exception of a cabbie listening to conservative talk radio in which Jay Severin claimed that nobody's ever died from not having health insurance (no really, WHAT?), I've never felt uncomfortable in a Veteran's cab; they're clean, and their credit card machines always work. This doesn't help me get home at night, however.

Now that the weather's improving, I'm more fine with walking through Mission Hill than getting a Brookline cab. Although, I am quite fond of the Scion xB Hello Taxis, although I've never taken one. They're just so cute.

*Incidentally, I'm not originally from a Major City, and I still don't understand if a cab's light on the roof being on means it's available or not. Anyone?

Monday, March 08, 2010

Oh, happy day

One major benefit of teaching young'uns is that some of them are Girl Scouts, so I can get my Thin Mint fix without having to check all the train stations and grocery stores in the Greater Boston Metro Area.

I mean, sure, there's a web site for booth locations, but I have to remember to 1) look, 2) go there and 3) have money with me. One of my students yesterday just happened to have boxes on hand at her house, so even though SOME members of this household don't understand why one might need emergency backup Thin Mints, I have two boxes in the freezer.

It's a long time from one Girl Scout Cookie time to the next, and if I'm careful, I can hoard oh, eleven or sixty-eight boxes in the freezer without being detected.

Except that said household member reads this. Hm.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Wait, what?

Me: So it seems like you're counting to five fine, but try to get to eight.
4-year-old student: I'll count to five your HEAD.
Me: That...didn't even make sense.
Student: Oh.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Lack of safety in numbers...

...for me, anyway.

I had my younger violin group the other day, who are all in the seven-ish age range. One of their favorite activities at the moment is to play pieces while lying down. Last group, the conversation went something like this (and it doesn't really matter who's speaking, just picture a swarm of four seven-year-olds. Oh my, can they swarm):

"Next time, can we play standing on our heads?"
Me: That doesn't sound particularly safe...
"Someone could do that though if they were a really good acrobat."
"A really good acrobat could play violin on a tightrope!"
"On a bicycle on a tightrope!"
"There could be a horse under the tightrope and they could jump off the bicycle and land on the horse and keep playing the violin!"

I hereby disavow any and all responsibility for any violin-tightrope-bicycle-horse-related incidents. Ever.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Student memory

This happened when one of my now-eight-year-old students was five or six. (I can't believe I've had some kids that long...this is the longest I've been in one place to teach.)

During his lesson, he started chatting away in an almost Joyceian stream-of-consciousness.

Me: OK, can we get back to violin now?
Him: I'm just telling you things I know!
Me: Yes, but you're telling me everything you know.

Whadaya know about that?

Turns out they actually do sweep the train cars out during the day, at least occasionally. I had no idea.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Not mine, but still

One of my colleagues told me that, during a four-year-old's lesson, he looked at her and said, "You have the biggest teeth ever!"

She just sighed and continued the lesson.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Observed on the T

I freely admit to being far too Midwestern and white to get the extremely-low-pants thing, but...

When you're sitting down, and your belt is horizontal across your thighs? Your pants might be a little too low.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Silent type

After a 12-year-old's lesson, I was talking to his mother before he finished packing up and came out of the room, and I was praising his newly found attention to detail (12-year-old boys + detail work usually = something that doesn't happen).

He came out, and I told him I was saying nice things. His mother said, "She says you're doing really well with detail work, is that right?"

Student: *grins and blushes and shrugs*
Mom: A man of few words.
Student: Mmhmm.

Out of the mouths of...adults?

I have a couple adult students, one of whom has a five-year-old daughter who is also my student.

That adult was giving me a ride to the T the other day, and she said, "I think it's good for [daughter] to see that, even though I stink at violin...and I don't mean that in a bad way...that I keep playing anyway."

(Note: She doesn't "stink" at violin; she's doing very well...she just has slightly ridiculously high standards for herself.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Observed behavior

A couple friends and I sight-read some chamber music for fun yesterday. One of them is taking a class for which she had to make a chart of observed behavior. She chose to observe the number of times each of us swore during the hour or so we played. She and I tied for the highest number; our pianist friend is far more polite (but still had her moments).

Let nobody fool you into thinking classical musicians are genteel and refined; we can swear like sailors at unexpected key changes and the like.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

So close...

One of my 9-year-old students was reading the front of a tuner her dad uses for his guitar.

Student: "Korg Guitar And Bass Tuner..."
Me: That's bass [base]. A bass is a fish.
Student: Oh, of course.


Student: We didn't do our final bow (boe)!
Me: I think you mean bow (bough).
Student: Right.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Nice to hear

As I was busking outside last summer, an older woman came up to me and said, "I'm taking violin lessons myself. I started as an adult, and it's so nice to hear someone just playing melodies simply and well. It gives people like me hope."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Quote I liked

Alan Lomax and colleagues did a comparative analysis of thousands of songs across the world's cultures. I'm not going to go into detail...or really explanation...but I liked this quotation about the project:

"And Lomax's overall conclusion, supported by very many correlations of this kind, is that 'song style symbolizes and reinforces certain important aspects of social structure in all cultures' (p. vii). If this seems at first sign a rather far-fetched and extravagant idea, then it is worth thinking a little more about what 'style' actually means in this context. Style is not the way someone chooses to sing but the way in which they sing without making any conscious choice; as Lomax puts it, 'if a culture member sings at all, he has to sing in the style of his people because it is the only style he knows. It is in fact almost impossible for anyone really to change his singing style. It takes years for a non-European to learn opera; it has required half a centruy for Europeans to learn to perform American jazz' (p. 28). At the same time style is something to which anybody who belongs to a given culture responds with precision: 'any culture member can immediately sense that something is stylisitcally wrong about a greeting, a cooking pot, a song, or a dance, without being able to explain why this is so (p. 12)." --A Guide to Musical Analysis, Nicholas Cook, pp. 200-201

So that's why I play everything like it's an Irish fiddle tune.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Porter Square announcement

One of the speakers at Porter fades in and out and has been doing so for a long time.

One of the regular announcements goes something like "Fare evasion on the MBTA is against the law"etc. The speaker faded in just such a way that it once said, "Fare the law".

And here I thought that was only the law on the Green Line.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Then there are the younger siblings...

I teach at some students' homes, so families are around. One of my students has a two-and-a-quarter (so he informed me)-year-old little brother. I got to their house, and:

Brother: How you get in here?
Me: Through the door.
Brother: The door? That door?
Me: Yes, that one.
Brother: Why you not come in through door in there? (gestures towards kitchen)
Me: Well, the only door in there is the refrigerator, and I can't come in that way.
Brother: Yeah, you too big to fit through 'frigerator.

Never mind that in most houses, the refrigerator doesn't have outdoor access. And yes, I am smaller than a refrigerator, but he's probably never seen one without all the shelves intact.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ah, 10-year-olds

10-year-old student, halfway through lesson: Oh my God, I have a huge scab on my finger!...wait, maybe that's a tomato. I don't know. I had a tomato skin stuck on my teeth earlier, and when I tried to get it off, it got stuck halfway down my throat.

I still don't know if it was a scab or a tomato. Nor was I inclined to pursue the issue.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Back to it

I've been working at my occasional-desk-job quite a bit lately, so I haven't been busking. Next week is school vacation week, though, which means that I will be minimally teaching and hopefully maximally busking.

Sometimes I think that I should get a morning job, but then I remember that I really enjoy the flexibility of my current's the self-discipline that trips me up.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Personal Space and the T Do Not Mix

So if you're going to get all huffy about my accidentally sitting on your coat, perhaps it would be best to make sure that you and your coat are, in fact, occupying the same seat.

Just sayin'.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Cute Student Moment

I start and end every lesson with a bow, as is the Suzuki teacher way. One of my students, during his bow, was surprised by his pants. "I thought I was wearing my black pants, because they're so hot, but it turns out it was these pants!"

I love my students.

Friday, February 05, 2010

A different thought

From a rehearsal last night:

Conductor: OK, let's start at rehearsal letter F as in...Frank...
Me (to stand partner): There's a different word starting with F that I've been wanting to say*...
Stand partner: *cracks up*

*Not because of the group or the conductor in any way, but because I was making so freakin' many mistakes and couldn't play in tune to save my soul.


One of my students threw her violin into the wall last night.

It was absolutely an accident; I was doing something to her bow and wasn't watching, and she was swinging the violin around, as children are wont to do, and it slipped out of her hand and crashed into the wall.

I think more damage was done to the wall than to the violin, but I used my "Quietly Scary Teacher Voice" to tell her that that's why we don't swing our violins. Big eyes, lots of nodding that she understood. I think the next couple of weeks are going to see a lot more diligence from me in terms of making sure my students are holding their instruments appropriately. And calmly.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Who are you to judge me???

(Title a la Dorothy Zbornak)

I was busking at Porter, playing "Sunrise, Sunset", when a guy came up and told me...not asked me, told play something happier. So I switched to "To Life", which wasn't happy enough for him. I think I then switched to "Devil's Dream", at which point he said something like, "See? People like HAPPY music!"

If all I played was fast fiddle tunes, both I and my audience would probably get bored. Interest lies in contrast. And I like Fiddler on the Roof, even if it's not "happy" enough for this guy. Hmph.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Summer Memory #3

Busking in the Public Garden, a young man walked by, stopped, pulled out a penny whistle and accompanied me on the Kesh Jig.

He was quite good, and it was far preferable to people who try to sing along while I'm playing, bless their hearts.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Not fair"

Sir, I'm sorry that life has you so beaten down; I can tell you're having hard times. But I promise that, when I refuse to give you money from my case while I'm working, standing in front of me mumbling about how it's "not fair", repeatedly, will not make me give you money.

Catch me when I'm not working, and odds are I'll find a dollar for you, but not while I'm actively trying to get people to give ME money.

And I'm sorry that you don't have a place to shower (I truly am; that has to be awful), but if I have to hold my breath because you won't go away, you're affecting my quality of life. And won't get a dollar.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Summer Memory #2

I don't mind dogs. I don't mind that people let their dogs frolic in the fountain I'm playing near. I do mind a bit when they let their dogs shake their wet coats all over other people and their violins. It's just not good for the instrument. Or my serenity.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A summer memory

Walking through the Boston Common on the way to the Public Garden, there's an area that's often the subject of chalk art. This time, there was poetry.

Haikus are silly
They often don't make much sense

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Reminder: I'm the adult

Since many of my students are quite young, many of them don't have total control over their phonemes yet. When this takes the form of a lisp, I have to laugh on the inside only when they tell me they're going to play "May Thong" or "Thong of the Wind". They're. So. Cute.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

T Cop Tip

I was busking at Porter, and an MBTA Transit Police Officer was on the platform with a clipboard, apparently just tracking numbers of how many people were using the station during that time period.

(I assume that's what they're doing. I figure if it were anything important, like an unauthorized LED, there would be at least five police officers and three police cars using all kinds of cop equipment that they had hanging around the police officer's station. I don't know why other T employees can't do this type of work, but I know little of the ways of the T.)

Anyway, when the officer was done, she walked over and tipped me a couple bucks. I always like when T employees tip me. Makes me feel like I probably won't get kicked out of that station that day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hygiene on the T

I rode the Red Line after I finished busking at Davis, and next to me was a young woman who filed her nails all the way from Porter to Central.

Granted, I keep my nails short to the quick most of the time, so can someone tell me, how long does it take to file one's nails to satisfaction, and is there any reason it needs to be done in public? I mean, I can understand having a ragged edge one needs to deal with immediately, but I'm pretty sure that should only take a few seconds. I didn't know until then that the sound of someone else using an emery board grates on my nerves like it does.

Now don't get me wrong, I generally wish more people would practice hygiene before getting on the T, such as showering and wearing deodorant, and then controlling certain bodily functions when in a small space with dozens of other people and little, if any, fresh air. But I think nail filing can wait.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


15 degrees is not enough degrees for me to busk, even in the subways. Porter and South Station might be warm enough that I don't get frostbite, but still.

Mad problem-solving skillz

A student gave me and one of her other teachers each a cookie-ornament-thing with our respective names on them in icing. It's a thin, crispy (delicious-smelling) cookie, and I ride the T, so I was concerned about getting it home intact.

I went to the kitchen at the school to see what I could find to protect it and encountered the other teacher there.

Me: I'm trying to figure out how to get this home safely.
Her: Oh, I already ate mine.

Problem solved!

(I ended up using a lot of paper towels and a Ziploc baggie with air in it. Worked fine.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I have two students who are sisters, seven and five years old. I ask that my students with long hair pull it back for their lessons, just so it's out of their face. The seven-year-old was trying to put the five-year-old's hair in a ponytail.

Seven: Did you brush your hair today?
Five: Daddy brushed it.
Seven: *put-upon Daddy-doesn't-know-anything-about-hair sigh*

Thursday, January 07, 2010

So not a sports type

Re: My last Green Line-related post:

Turns out the Bruins were in Ottawa that night (I didn't read the schedule that closely), so now I really have no idea why so many trains were heading to Riverside in such a short amount of time.

MBTA, thy ways are not to be comprehended by mere mortals.

How cheesy

Me: OK, so the next Twinkle variation is "Beautiful Butterfly".
Student (age 7): *thinks* I'm gonna change that to..."Very Strange Cheesy Guy".
Student's Mom: His favorite word right now is cheese. Which is kind of funny, because he doesn't actually like cheese.
Student: *giggles*

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

That may have been a new record

While waiting for a D Line train last night around 6:30, no fewer than eight...eight!...Riverside-bound trains went by before the first Government-Center-bound train showed up. Eight trains in 12 minutes was rather amazing.

I see there was a Bruins game at 7:30 last night, so they were probably sending a bunch of trains to Riverside for Bruins traffic, but still. EIGHT.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

To the gentleman with the cane

Dear Sir:

I know that the T is very difficult to navigate when one has a mobility problem, especially at Porter Square. I also know that sometimes it's important to chat with the newspaper vendor about recent sports news, and that's all well and good. But is it entirely necessary to have this discussion with you planted blocking access to the up escalator?

Granted, it was the shorter escalator from the mezzanine to outside, but still, I didn't want to walk up the stairs, and I felt churlish shoving past you. I did say "excuse me", and I don't think I actually made physical contact (I hope), and I completely understand if you needed to hold onto something to steady yourself, but I would think that something more stationary than a moving escalator rail might be more useful for that purpose.

Thank you,

The Fiddler

Sunday, January 03, 2010

And slightly belatedly...

A Happy New Year to all.

I took this whole past week off from doing anything musical (or productive); tomorrow, I begin anew. May we all have the chance to pursue our passion this year, whatever that may be.