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A Piece of My Mind
April 11, 2007

Steven’s Violin

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2007;297(14):1529-1530. doi:10.1001/jama.297.14.1529

The curtain barely muffled the screech of violins being tuned. Then a hush, and it parted, revealing three semicircles of violinists, one behind the other. The musicians were 10 years old—except for one: a bearded, middle-aged man in a tweed jacket and cloth tie, his eyes fixed on the conductor's baton.

That was my brother Steven, who at 50 decided to pursue his dream of learning to play the violin. Some might find it odd for a respected literature professor to dash out of his university office once each week so he could join a class of fifth-graders for elementary violin. But Steven couldn't afford private lessons, and he didn't care that his classmates were barely entering puberty. He was feeling lucky. For the first time since being diagnosed with cancer, he actually believed he had time.