Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 26 2011 - The violin

In a land far away and a time long ago, there was a master craftsman who always made the most beautiful things. One day he made for himself a wonderful violin. He chose the wood very carefully making sure that the grain was just perfect. He cut and carved and shaped the wood until it was very thin, but still good and strong so that it would resonate to the music of the strings. He glued the parts together with strong glue and then treated the wood to several coats of special varnish that would preserve it and would enhance the sound of the instrument. Now he was ready to add the strings. Finally he carefully tuned the violin. Now it was complete.

The master craftsman had composed music which was designed for just this violin. When he played his music on his violin it produced the sweetest tones you have ever heard. All who heard it were captivated by the music the master craftsman played on his beautiful violin.

Then, one day, the master craftsman decided that he would not keep this beautiful instrument to himself. He decided to give it to a young violinist so that he could learn to play it and everyone would be captivated by the music he played on the beautiful violin.

But the young man did not want to play the master's music. He wanted to play tunes of his own devising. His own tunes sounded harsh and ugly compared with the tunes of the master, but at least they were his own. The young man's playing did not please those who heard it and soon it no longer pleased him.

Then the young man got fed up of playing the violin. He threw it on one side and no longer looked after it. He let the strings go slack. The varnish cracked in the heat of the sun and the glue came apart in the wet of the rain. Soon it lost all its beauty and seemed fit for nothing but the fire.

One day a traveller came past and saw the broken old violin leaning against the outer wall of the young man's house. The traveller asked if he could have it. At this the young man's eyes lit up. "I'll sell it to you", he said, "but it will cost you all you have because it's a very special violin." The traveller looked at the battered and broken instrument. It did not seem to be worth very much, but he gladly paid all that he had just to get his hands on the master's violin.

The traveller took the old violin back to the master craftsman. When the master looked at it his heart leapt for joy. He saw beyond the dirt and the cracks. He saw beyond the broken strings. Beneath all this, he saw the instrument he had made; an instrument of great beauty that had made the sweetest of all music in his hands. And so he set about restoring his violin. It cost him a great deal of effort and a lot of hard work, but for him it was no trouble – it was a labour of love.

At last his work was finished; the violin was returned to its original beauty – indeed, it looked more beautiful that ever before. The master craftsman took up his restored violin and again began to play his music. All who heard it were captivated by the music he played on his beautiful violin.

But then the master craftsman took his beautiful violin back to the young violinist who had neglected it so terribly. He showed it to the young violinist who again admired its beauty. Then he played it to the young violinist. When the young violinist heard the music his heart danced with joy. He longed to play the violin again – to play it like the master played it.

Then the master spoke to the young violinist. Handing him the beautiful violin he said,"Take it. It is yours – it was made for you. But now I will teach you how to play my music upon it. I will teach you how to play it so that your heart will dance to the music of the violin. And when you play it, the hearts of all who hear it will dance with you."

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Peter Misselbrook