December 13 – National Violin Day

Happy Violin Day!

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Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin written by Chieri Uegaki and illustrated by Qin Leng (2014)

Hana announces to her brothers that she is going to play the violin in the school’s talent show. Her brothers nearly fall out of the tree with laughter. Her parents listen attentively and Hana practices every day. As she practices, she remembers her grandfather who played second violin in the symphony orchestra and had once played for the Imperial Family in Japan. When she practiced, her brothers fled the house. Even the dog gave her funny looks. Finally on the night of the talent show, Hana sees her family and her best friend in the audience supporting her. She is afraid, but after a deep breath the audience disappears and Hana imagines her grandfather sitting front and center, cheering her on. And she heard his voice telling her, ‘Do your best’ and she did. She played the sounds of a mother crow calling her chicks, the rain hitting a paper umbrella, a cat yowling, bees buzzing, and more. Afterwards, she bowed and left the stage. That evening after dinner, even her brothers asked her to play an encore.

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The Man With the Violin written by Kathy Stinson and illustrated by Dušan Petričić (2013)

Dylan notices things that his mother doesn’t… like the man with the violin. There at the subway station, a man was playing the most beautiful music Dylan had ever heard. In fact, he heard it all day in his head and in his heart. That evening, while making dinner in the kitchen, Dylan heard the music again. This time it was coming from the radio. The music carries Dylan up in a swirl of notes. And this time, mom stops, and listens, and dances with Dylan, right there in the middle of their apartment.

This book is based on a true story. World renown violinist, Joshua Bell played music on a 300 year old Stradivarius in the middle of a Washington DC metro station for 43 minutes while over 1000 people rushed past. But no one truly listened for more than one minute, only children actually tried but were pulled away by hurried parents or caregivers. At the end of his concert which included the Ave Maria, Joshua Bell had collected only $32.17 in his violin case.

You can hear an excerpt of this experiment here. 

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The Bat Boy and His Violin written by Gavin Curtis and illustrated by E.B. Lewis (1998)

Reginald loves to play his violin, Reginald’s papa loves baseball. It’s 1948 and the Negro National League is having trouble booking games because most of its best players, like Jackie Robinson, are moving to the white teams. Reginald’s papa wants him to get outside and play more, he wants him to be the bat boy for his team, the Dukes. Reginald goes with the team to Cleveland the next day. The team isn’t doing very well, and Reginald doesn’t help. He tried to carry six bats at a time, and ended up tripping the next batter when the bats scattered on the ground. He waxed the bats, like he does his violin, but they slipped out of the players’ hands. Finally, Papa tells him to just sit down and play his music quietly so as not to disturb anyone. The next batter, Mr. LaRue, compliments Reginald’s music and then goes out to hit a home run. Reginald plays him all the way in. The same thing happens again when Mr. Ervin goes to bat. The Dukes end up winning the game. Papa massages Reginald’s arm at the end of the game instead of the pitcher’s arm. Reginald begins following the team from game to game, playing his violin for them. The Dukes make it all the way to the play-offs. But in the last game, they lost. Reginald is afraid his papa will blame him and his music for their loss. But Papa surprises him by saying he helped the team go farther than he ever thought they would. That week, Reginald had a recital in the living room of their house. Mama and Papa were there. And all the players from the Dukes attended with their wives.

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Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin written by Lloyd Moss and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman (1995)

An orchestra is introduce one instrument at a time. Each instrument plays its unique music and the number of musicians in the group is defined from one to ten. The title character, the violin, is the fifth instrument to join the group with a Zin! Zin! Zin! making it a quintet.

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