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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

On the perils of tendonitis,
and the return after a long absence of Mrs Gloria Stoatgobbler,
with Classical Music Agony Aunt ALICE McVEIGH

Dear Alice,

I have a problem that really worries me. I'm a professional violinist with really bad tendonitis in my right shoulder. I also freelance, though I used to have a full-time job. I can just about manage to play on the E-string, but the lower strings are agonising these days and (as I normally play second) I'm at my wit's end what to do. Sometimes I get twinges that hurt so much I think I'm going to cry out in pain! -- but I've never done teaching and have no idea what else I could do. Should I be honest and tell people my career is over -- or just take the money and fake it until I get better?

(no name supplied)

Dear violin-player,

This is one of the worst letters I've ever received, as witness the fact that I'm at my wit's end what to say ... I DID know of a violinist who faked everything for two years (I think something was wrong with a finger, though) and nobody noticed (how sad is that??!!) but I think even faking it would hurt your shoulder. Also, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but tendonitis sometimes NEVER gets better.

You should contact the Union (and through the Union, the Musician's Benevolent Fund, who bailed out a couple of friends of mine who couldn't perform for a while) but EVEN AS YOU DO THIS you should be thinking long and hard about what (else) you're going to do with your life. Teaching might have to be a short-term option, but, if you've never taught before there's probably some good reason (shyness, not liking it, nerves about it) while you shouldn't turn to it long-term now faut de mieux. If I were you, I would be brave and daring, like my friend Marion, who is, at 42, about to finish a part-time double-major in law and psychology now her children are teenagers. (Doesn't have to be those subjects, of course -- I don't have a clue what your non-musical interests are.) She has absolutely loved the entire experience, and can't wait to decide which of the two she's going to have a go at in her 'new' life!!!! In short, whether it was Alexander Technique, sports massage or whatever, I would retrain and hope for better things. If you absolutely lay off the violin there is even a slim chance you might be able to play again someday, though with tendonitis I've heard that nothing is certain.

Anyway, that's my gut feeling, for what it's worth (probably not a lot),
Yours with sympathy,

Ask Alice

Have you ever enjoyed the wonders of Classic FM TV? It aggravates me when armchair psychologists warn us against the dangers of violent films on young minds and yet a station like Classic FM TV is permitted to poison the airways with its glutinous deluge of pseudo-classical mucus unchallenged by any broadcasting regulator.

Interview most rapists and serial killers and I would guarantee that their iPods are loaded to the gunnels with Russell Watson, Il Divo, Katherine Jenkinson, Amici, Bond and the like. The sounds of a casualty ward after a particularly unpleasant motorway pile-up are surely more restful and indeed musically interesting than this barrage of banality.

I'd rather hear James Blunt or Girls Aloud attempt Schubert's Winterreise than bloody Russell bleedin' Watson -- talentless arse!

Yours sincerely
G Stoatgobbler

Dear Gloria,

Yes, Classic FM TV is quite stunningly awful, though I would hesitate to go to the awful extreme you mention, and put is ahead of violent films, or a casualty ward post-accident ... In my opinion its awfulness is in a completely different vein: it's revoltingly anodyne; it's relentlessly saccharine; it puts appearance first and artistry nowhere.

I also have to take issue with your notion that it's not restful. It is stunningly restful. You can search its schedule for a year from soup to nuts without finding anything intellectually satisfying. It reminds me of a diet consisting entirely of gooey marshmallows ...

I also have to put in a good word for Amici Forever.

Not that they're any good, mind you, but they once employed my quartet ...
Yours sycophantically,

Ask Alice

From an anonymous tuba player ...

Dear Alice,

'in a position vis-a-vis the conductor whereby he needs a loud-hailer in order to speak to you -- and you need a telescope in order to see him' is a very nice description of what it is like to be the tuba player in an orchestra. I'm afraid I don't see a problem :-)

Dear Anon,

Yes, very true, I hadn't thought of that!


Ask Alice

Dear Alice

I read Mrs Goatscrobbler's posting about the Crass Roots FM TV show with interest, and of course I went straight to see for myself. Sadly, my system (a 1950s radiogram) was unable to show me this programme, even after installing Firefox, so I'll continue listening to my collection of 78s of Vagner's Wring in that wonderful Stoatbert von Caravan edition.

The Goat of Sydenham

Copyright © 24 March 2006 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK

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