Twin Fiddlers

Twin Fiddlers0001Daddy took his little girl everywhere,
Especially when he went fishing and fiddling.

Once a month on Sundays,
At the Washington Old Time Fiddler’s Association,
They soaked up some toe tapping,
Mountain music.

One afternoon,
While sawing on his old fiddle,
With rhythm guitars and a bass strumming at his side,
Daddy’s little girl toddled up to the stage and tugged,
At his pant leg for attention,
To everyone’s delight.

He loved to play,
“Bill Cheatum,” “Arkansas Traveler,”
And “Bully of the Town.”

Just as Daddy conspired,
The fiddle bug did bite her,
At the age of three.

Three months of begging,
Sufficiently coaxed her determination,
And she solemnly promised,
To practice every day.

Her eyes gleamed,
As she was presented with a tiny,
One sixteenth size,
Fiddle.

True to her word,
She practiced,
Day after day.

Then one cold dark evening,
With fiddle in hand,
She walked into the room,
While Daddy fiddled away in front of the fireplace.

She meekly announced,
With great disappointment,
Her fiddle was broken.

Astonished,
He carefully examined the fiddle,
And asked, “what’s wrong with it?”

With a long frown
She took a deep breath and said,
“It doesn’t sound like yours.”

© 2013 M. Tsai

Puppy Love

1-IMG_3441The cream of the crop
Traveled to the 1979 Congress of Strings
At the University of Washington,
Including the musical genius from Calgary.

We all had scholarships,
For an intensive musical experience
Performing every two weeks at Meany Hall.

All college students except for me,
Heading into my last year of high school.

The camp had an extra spot,
So they asked my violin teacher,
A professor emeritus,
If he could fill it.
He selected me.

For the first concert,
I was assigned to sit
Next to the girl from Oberlin,
Destined to be a concert master.

She was the section leader
Of the second violins,
We shared a stand,
Making rapturous notes together.

Tall and lean,
Her dark wavy hair framed her aquiline nose
And sultry brown eyes,
Her long dexterous fingers moved effortlessly
As she played with fierce intensity.

Drawing me in like a Gypsy Air,
Under her mysterious spell,
I gathered all of my shy
Awkward courage
To ask her out on a date.

As we walked across the warm summer campus,
She told me she had never dated a jock,
But I persisted.

In the evening
We went out to University Ave
I forgot my wallet,
So she paid.

My heart sinking
As we neared the elevator at Haggett Hall,
Reluctantly I said good night.

She stepped toward me and leaned in for my very first kiss,
All was going exceptionally well,
Until she thrust her long alien tongue,
Into my mouth.

Tumbling back on all fours,
Bewildered,
I watched her smiling
As the elevator doors
Closed.

© 2013 M. Tsai

Performance Anxiety

My first busking experience was near a public market in Seattle about two years ago. I had 30 minutes before a doctor’s appointment so I played at the edge of the park lawn overlooking Elliot Bay. Boy there were lots of people sitting and talking and enjoying the great weather. I was nervous about breaking the din of noise with my fiddle. What would they like? A waltz, hoedown, or a rag? Fast or slow – perhaps some classical? There must have have been a hundred people in this little patch of urban green, and over a thousand tourists in the nearby Pike Place Market. A mounted policeman in place to maintain order. I asked if I needed a license, he said only in the market. In the end, I made a buck, I think I will frame it like you see some small businesses do, it is somewhere in my violin case. I had a gentleman encourage me to come back again as I rushed to my appointment. Continue reading