And now, a word from Gramma

I’ve really enjoyed the wide-ranging comments on Monday’s post about throwing like a girl. I keep relating Tamar Haspel’s effort to throw a ball farther and faster with other goals that people choose, complex ones that don’t have an end point.

What I mean is, it’s one thing to say, “I’m going to learn to do quadratic equations.” That’s a pretty specific goal, and (I assume) at some point you can do any one that’s handed to you.

Many things that adults set out to master — with “master” being a very flexible word for “develop a satisfactory level of capability” — lack those crisp boundaries. Like learning a language other than your native one.

For now, though, I want to pick up on Tamar’s closing comment:  “You’ll have to excuse me, because I need to find a violin teacher.”

Naturally, this reminded me of Margaret Ann Cameron Beaton. She was the maternal grandmother of Natalie MacMaster, part of an extended family of Cape Breton musicians (like cousin Andrea Beaton, uncle Kinnon Beaton, and uncle Buddy MacMaster). Natalie’s album In My Hands includes the track Gramma, with a pair of Irish fiddle tunes. The track opens with a recording of Margaret Ann at the age of 91. Although I’m putting a transcription here, you ought to listen to the clip to hear not only her warm Cape Breton accent but her shimmering wish that she’d learned to play:

Margaret Ann Cameron Beaton (“Gramma”)

I wasn’t rich enough to get a violin when I was young. But if I happened to have the money, boy, oh boy, I would be a violin player. My god, I just — I was alive with it.