There’s a phrase musicians use – “find your instrument.” What it means is this: Find the one music-making thing that feels like home when you pick it up and start to play.
I haven’t found mine yet. Or perhaps it’s as simple as my voice, in which case, I will never have to pay for tuning or new strings or a collapsed bridge.
Graham always thought his instrument was the viola. He played it for many years and loved it. It fit into his hands and on his shoulder, and he liked the deeper tones, the more caramel-y timbre. Violins sound like silver. Violas sound like gold. Rich, deep, and still bright and resonant.
But Graham hasn’t picked up his viola in a long time. Over the years we’ve been together, he’s tried his hand at guitar and at piano, he’s picked up a harmonica and banged on a drum set. I figured he’d just lost interest. But now I know – the viola is just not Graham’s instrument. And neither were any of the others.
This is all going somewhere, I promise.
See, my parents came to visit this weekend, and my dad brought up his guitar – the usual – and also a mandolin he bought secondhand. He figured it would be fun to learn to play. He was right, of course. Especially for Graham.
Turns out, the mandolin is Graham’s instrument. And we found it, on a warm Saturday night by the fire in our back garden.
He took to it immediately. My dad was a little jealous (sorry, Dad, if you’re reading this, but you know and I know that it’s true), but was also impressed and happy, and gracious enough to give a few quick lessons.
And before any of us knew it, they were sitting there, picking out songs to play together and laughing like they’d been doing it for years.
It’s actually pretty cool, to see two of your favorite people find a new favorite thing. A most wonderful discovery indeed.
P.S. – I’ve been trying to figure out what to get Graham for his birthday. Now I know. Good thing I have until November to do some research and find exactly the right mandolin!