Eleanore Hamilton

HOW IT BEGAN

Last September, I was in my dark and quiet bedroom practicing my orchestra music. I was drudging on, sighing between pieces. I continued to move the pages aside to uncover the next sheet of black lines and dots. I thought to myself as I moved the third piece of music to my dresser, “How on earth can I spend one more day, let alone, one more hour practicing like this?”

I was 11 at the time and I had been playing the violin for 6 years. I just didn’t see how I could continue practicing this way. But the thing was, I couldn’t see quitting either.

I had many conversations with my mom about how to motivate myself with my practicing and every time, we landed on, “Write a book!” So I did.

Writing my book made me look at practicing objectively. From that I saw myself not as a “student robot” as I used to, but a violinist with freedom and power to change the boring old practice into playing with energy and fun.

Yes, I now had the freedom to change my practice, but how would I change it?  I thought and thought and then I started to write. One tip and trick at a time.

Once I had racked my brain and written down every tip that was inside it, I racked other people’s brains: conductors, teachers, performers, and friends.

I wrote their tips, illustrated them, found an editor, found a printer; and I was on a roll.

A FEW FUNNY PARTS OF THE PROCESS

I fed my editor’s sheep before I sat down at his desk to edit with him.

I laid out all my tips on the floor in my living room to decide their order. It took up half my living room.

In the beginning, I spent my mornings in bed writing tips.

I have every single stage of my book stacked up in a tipping pile in my bottom drawer below the printer. I call it The Leaning Tower of Violin Notes.

I found three small errors in my book after it was published. Good luck finding them!

EVERYTHING ELSE

Aside from playing violin, I:

• am on the triathlon team, swim team, and ski team.
• love to read … a couple of my favorite books are When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead and Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson.
• am fascinated by diseases, like the Bubonic Plague … depressing, I know, but fascinating!
• love to make movies with and hang out with my cousin Mallory … we are pretty much best friends and born six days apart.
• really like to bake during any free time … whether it’s using a recipe or just making it up as I go!
• want to try to play the oboe (as a second instrument)
• love to travel, to explore new places
• write a column with my sister for our local paper
• rode a stray horse in France

MY FUTURE

I plan to play the violin forever, even if it is not my profession. I really want to work for the FBI someday. But the violin would be my way to get away from the gritty world of criminals. I think that I will always come back to the violin. No matter what. No matter when.