With her talent and dedication for music, it’s okay that Maddy Erickson is picky about choosing a violin.
“We took her to a luthier and he pulled out these really nice violins,” says her dad, Jim. “Well, she went through 10 of them and they were all good, but something wasn’t right for her. The guy says he has one more, but he has to string it up first…so we came back a little later and for some reason, that was the one.”
The right instrument, in the right hands is a thing of beauty, and the 13-year-old knows how to make beautiful music after playing violin the last seven years.
Just ask the adjudicators who heard her March 3 at The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia. Playing to get her Grade 8 in practical violin, Erickson scored the highest mark in the province and was awarded the gold medal.
But musical awards are nothing new for the Grade 8 home-schooled student from Campbell River.
Last year, says mom Janet, she was named the top junior fiddler in B.C.
“We don’t have to go into the fiddle stuff,” Erickson softly scolds.
Erickson has set her sights on becoming a professional violinist, “a soloist,” she says, but that doesn’t mean she has forgotten the fiddle.
The affable youngster volunteers hours each month playing foot-tappin’, elbow-swingin’ fiddle music for residents at the Larwood and Yucalta care facilities, and at the Seniors’ Centre.
“The old folks just love it when she plays fiddle,” says Janet.
The trouble with fiddle music, it just isn’t demanding enough for Erickson. Even playing classical as the second violinist in the Strathcona Symphony Orchestra was becoming mundane.
“It was getting a little boring,” she says as politely as possible.
This year she’s pleased to be first violinist in the orchestra and her musical talents extend beyond the strings.
In June she will complete her Grade 7 exam in piano and next year she expects to finish her final year, Grade 10, in violin.
Beyond that, Erickson doesn’t go to sleep dreaming of playing Carnegie Hall in New York City or being asked to solo for the London Symphony.
Like many super-talented people who display extraordinary dedication, Erickson focusses on what’s next, what she needs to learn and how she’s going to improve.
And that begins with a trip to the music store.
“We just got her this new book of music and she was just thrilled. She was flipping through the pages, looking at all the notes and getting excited,” says Jim with a smile.
The book in question is “Praeludium and Allegro” by Kreisler Fritz, a a classic piece for violin.
“He died in 1962, a couple days before his 87th birthday,” advises Erickson, who’s looking forward to learning it all. “Everyone plays it. It’s popular and it’s really fun to play.”
Her focus, when it comes to music, is intense and it’s not just learning to play Praeludium and Allegro.
“Maddy likes to conquer pieces,” states Janet.
And with every very good student, there are some great teachers behind her.
Erickson travels to Nanaimo to take violin lessons from James Mark, takes piano lessons from Shelly Roberts, and history and harmony from Sandy Havaalar, both of Campbell River.
Erickson’s next big performance will be in Chilliwack at the end of May when she represents Upper Vancouver Island in junior strings at the provincials.
“We’re always thrilled to get a letter from the adjudicator to say she’s going to the provincials,” says Janet.