Photo by Mary
Vasquez: Zeeny, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
My name is Zeeny, and I just turned ten years old. Can
I tell you about my culture? I'm one-quarter Bahamian, one-quarter
African, and one-half white.
How and when did you get involved in CMW?
I'm starting my third year. I think my mom just put me
on the waiting list. I had played violin a little bit when I was
four, so I kind of remembered it from long ago. But when I did violin
then, I didn't really want to play. It was that four-year-old stuff,
“I don't want to do it.” As I got older, I wished I had kept playing.
Wolfe: She even said to me, “I wish I'd never quit.” She
was six or seven years old at the time. We had moved to this neighborhood
in 2000, so we always used to walk by the office, and I saw the
violins in the window. So one day we came in, and I put her on the
list, and every so often, we'd get one of those postcards, saying,
“You're 72nd on the waiting list.” And I would ask Zeeny, “Are you
still interested?” And she would always say yes. Finally, when she
was seven and half, they called and said they had space. It was
a summer day. We turned off supper and came right over!
Who do you have the most important relationship with in CMW?
Probably with my teacher, Jesse. He's been the one that
stayed with me longest. Also, I feed his cats when he's away. In
the summer, I feed his cats like every other week. He's really funny:
he cuts his hair short in the wintertime, and grows it long in the
Plus, he's come over to our house and seen your whole
menagerie, right? The cat, the snake, the bird, the lizard… There
was even the night he came over and gave you a make up lesson in
your pajamas, remember? Jesse always goes above and beyond. We gave
him a spaghetti dinner for that lesson. And every year he has a
birthday breakfast with us.
What's your funniest memory of CMW?
Well, I have lessons with Andrew. We've always had lessons
together. And sometimes in lessons Jesse says, “OK, who wants to
play this one?” And I always step back, and then Jesse says, “Well,
Andrew, it looks like you've been volunteered.” It's really funny.
What's your most embarrassing moment in CMW?
when I mess up during a concert. Like this last performance party,
I messed up a little on the Waltz, when I did those triplets,
I didn't do them fast enough. But then Andrew messed up a little
almost at the end, so I'm like, “Okay, it's fair now.”
We always have a lot of food at concert trips, and performances.
What was your favorite food moment?
Well, I ate the bugs at The Bug Opera workshop.
The crickets were nutty and solid, because that's what they eat.
And the water beetles were salty. I liked the water beetle, but
not the crickets so much. They only gave like little pieces of meat
from the water beetle—I guess people really wanted it. It tasted
Patrice, how has the CMW community been important in your life,
and in Zeeny's life?
You know, in the beginning I really didn't understand
the whole community part of it. We actually missed the first performance
party in the fall, because I just didn't know it was important.
At the time, our lives had been really disrupted, because we had
moved to the area in the summer of 2000, and then 9/11 came along,
and because I'm in the Air Force, I got called up and I was gone
for a year. When I got back, I had a hard time catching up with
Zeeny, and CMW become something for me to get involved with with
her in an interesting way. And then at the end of the first year,
at the Performance Party down at the Church of the Messiah, Sebastian
got up and said something about ‘community is first in CMW for a
reason.' And it was like a light going on! Also getting to know
Jesse was instrumental in making us feel a part of the community.
Finding out that he was our neighbor, and him being part of our
lives beyond lessons. So the community has really enriched us.
How was CMW different from what you expected when you first came
Well, it's so much more than anything I could have ever
dreamed of. I had this limited perception of lessons. For example,
if you want swim lessons, you go to the YMCA. You come on Mondays
and Wednesdays nights, the kids all get in the water, the parents
wait until the hour's up. And that's swim lessons at the Y. So I
thought it was going to be the kind of thing that the kid gets involved
in, but that's it. My expectations were very small. So really it
far exceeded my expectations. Because like the relationship like
we have with Jesse is so dear, I can't imagine him not being my
neighbor, or being in our life. That's why Sebastian's words, ‘community
is first in our banner for a reason,' has really come home to me
in so many ways.
Zeeny, I've heard you talk before about the workshop last year with
Sara's father, when he was talking about the “wobble zone.” Could
you talk about that, and how you use the “wobble zone?”
The wobble zone is where you're playing too fast, so you're
making a lot of mistakes. He said to stay out of the wobble zone,
and try to go slower, until you can pick up the pace. He made us
say “clean plate club” ten times fast, and at first when we said
it, we couldn't get it.
Right. But if you could say “clean plate club” ten times
cleanly in a row, then you know that your nervous system has mastered
it. It's the same thing with taking a phrase of notes, you find
a good chunk of notes, and when you can do it ten times in a row,
cleanly, it means you're out of the wobble zone. You mastered it,
and your neuromuscular memory is kicking in.
What's your favorite, most memorable part of CMW?
Wow, there are so many highlights. I mean, every year
there's always something. That's tough. But I know we both enjoyed
very much the opening New Bedford Symphony Orchestra, watching Jesse
play this year.
I'm so glad he didn't do the wild crazy thing, where he
pops out of seat and starts playing upside down.
No, I don't think he would do that at the New Bedford
Symphony, honey, he's the concertmaster. He was coming
out of his seat a lot, though. He played so energetically, it was
very exciting. It was a great concert. For some reason that sticks
out. But the concerts here with all the kids are all so enriching,
how can I pick one? I can't pick just one.
Zeeny, how do you think CMW has changed your life?
ZW: It's changed my life because sometimes I used
to have weak times when I didn't want to finish things. I was like,
“Oh, I don't want to play this song. I don't want to play the scales,
they're boring. And they're hard.” But it's changed my life to make
me feel like I want to keep on going on to the next note, and the