Is that a violin in that violin case?

Lara St. John(Photo: Twain Newhart)
Lara St. John(Photo: Twain Newhart)

Violinist Lara St. John, like many professional musicians, spends much of her time schlepping her instrument through airports, hotel lobbies, and onto the subway.  It seems, however, that when some of her fellow travelers see a violin-shaped case, some must not believe there is a violin inside, while others tend to want to discuss their 12 painful years of music lessons.

I a recent blog post, St. John said she once spoke with Joshua Bell about this.  According to her, Bell is still perplexed when, after concerts, someone always tells him that they played violin once, “but not as good as you.” It made me wonder if people tell Michael Phelps about their waterwings or Annie Liebowitz about their Viewmasters.

I have met very few people who do not enjoy talking with others about what they do.  No matter what the profession, if begin to show some interest, you’ll inevitably find out something interesting you did not know.

I suppose that if I carried a case with me that was shaped like a microphone, I might spend several hours a day explaining to curious folks what was in it.  On the other hand, it is always gratifying to have someone tell you they listen to your radio program, they love Classical 101, and then tell you what the music means to them.  I never grow tired of that.

St. John has gone so far as to come up with a list of of-the-wall answers to use when people ask.  She has even experimented with different cases, with the hope that it will throw the curious off long enough for her  to slip by.

So if you happen to see Lara St. John dashing through the airport with her instrument, maybe just let her go.  However, if you want to talk music or radio, feel free to tap me on the shoulder.

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  • Jordan

    With all due respect to Joshua Bell and Lara St. John as musicians, I find their complaints rather petty.  Some people do enjoy striking up conversations with strangers and usually they try to find something they might have in common.  Do Mr. Bell and Ms. St. John expect people to only talk about how great they play, or do they just wish the little people would shut up and go away?

    • Robertjlonigan

      You certainly make a point, however, people often assume more than they should.  How would you feel if when in an airport moving through security to a flight someone pointed to your laptop and began grilling you about your work?  Just a thought, but I am not sure that would be welcome.