Debbie Bartling, Violin

Debra Bartling, Violin

“You’re never too old to learn an instrument.” Debra believes that because she’s the proof of it. You see, Debra grew up in South Dakota—playing flute.

“I started flute in elementary school and played through high school.” She loved playing in all the bands. “I will never forget the wonderful sound all around me, all the instruments playing together.” But marching band, that was her favorite—with its half time shows and parades. But. “As an adult, there really aren’t many marching bands to play in.” So she put the flute on the shelf and went on with life.

Some years later, after a move to Portland, she was suddenly struck with the idea of playing violin. “I rented a violin, bought Suzuki book one, and started teaching myself.” She soon got a private teacher and started over. She just took to it, enjoyed the practicing, and hoped she’d play well enough to join an orchestra.

Then after a move to Berkeley, she joined Prometheus, under the baton of Jonathan Khuner. “I really had only been playing about a year or so and sneaked in.” But she continued her lessons and has been playing with us for well over 30 years now (still taking lessons!). “I find that violins have the same role in an orchestra as flutes do in a marching band. I really love the ensemble sound of an orchestra. You do the hours and hours of practicing just to have that experience.”

And it’s never too late to have that experience. “I hear people say, ‘Oh I wish I had played an instrument.’ So play now; it’s never too late to enjoy yourself playing music.” (Ahem, audience, we’re looking for some violists and cellists….)

~ Joyce Vollmer

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