Old Faithful — Touched By the Master’s Hand

Copyright Ron Molk Photography; all rights reserved.  Do not copy and use this image.

Copyright Ron Molk Photography; all rights reserved. Do not copy and use this image.

Eleven years ago during this month, I first encountered my century-old violin, which I lovingly christened “Old Faithful” not long after its purchase and still continue to affectionately know it as such. Wow! I cannot believe how much time has passed since then and how much I have grown with my fiddle, going from intermediate-level Suzuki material to full-fledged concertos and now Baroque sonatas. I do not think I could have done all of this without the aid of my special fiddle, and indeed, as many people often tell me nowadays, “Old Faithful” and I make one great team!

As a fitting tribute for the anniversary of the incident mentioned above, I have selected the famous Christian poem, “The Touch of the Master’s Hand.” Years ago, I first read this poem inside my violin teacher’s studio, and I immediately fell in love with it not only because I loved its touching, Christian message and musical theme, but also because the story reminded me my very own story eleven years ago:


Ahhh, timeless message! But what does that have to do with “Old Faithful”? Well, to begin with, as a young violinist, all my instruments prior to my acquiring of this century-old relic were shiny, glossy rental instruments. In particular, my three-quarter size violin was a brand new, shiny Chinese instrument with a lovely tone (in my opinion at the time). I prided myself upon owning a brand new instrument, and from thenceforth on I thought that brand new instruments were the way to go.

Hence, when the time arrived for me to acquire my very own full-sized instrument, I had already concocted an image of a shiny new “dream violin.” Hence, when I first saw “Old Faithful” — with its highly nicked body and dark brown varnish — amid the many shiny, light-colored violins I could choose from, I thought, “Who wants to play such an old thing? That certainly is not going to be MY violin!” and avoided playing it until last. But when I picked it up to play a G major scale, its resonant tone caught me totally off-guard, and from then on,Jean_Siméon_Chardin_-_The_Youth_with_a_Violin_-_WGA04748 I felt that it was truly the violin for me. Yes, I no doubt tried other fine fiddles, and my teacher tried to persuade me into a more mellow instrument “tone me down”, yet I always knew that “the old violin” (as we called it at the time) was the violin for me, and I stuck to this feeling until it was finally mine.

In the end, looking back, I must say that “Old Faithful” taught me an important lesson: Don’t judge by looks. Like the violin in the poem, it was “old and battered”, yet inside it held a precious treasure: A vibrant tone unlike those of the other fiddles that I tried. In the same way in which the auctioneer in the poem thought it was “hardly worth his while” to waste his time to the old violin, I initially thought my own old violin would surely be a “dud” and sound terrible. Hence, when I initially drew the bow across its strings, I — like the crowd in the poem — was totally taken aback, and the violin’s value in my heart grew with that sound.

Indeed, I strongly believe that my beloved fiddle was surely meant for me, and that God not only put it in my path for both musical enjoyment and a good home, but also to teach me the valuable lesson mentioned at the previous paragraph. Yes, “Old Faithful” is by no means the finest violin in the world, yet it continues to live up to its name, never letting me down and complementing my fine musicianship with its signature vibrant tone. I must admit that I am truly blessed in being its owner, and that it is not only “touched by the Master’s hand”, but also that it is the musical medium through which the Master Himself touched and still continues to touch me with His hand.

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