First time trying to hold the violin at home!

I think by far one of the most common questions Ivan and I get asked is “How is Grace with music? Can she play the violin again??” For now, the short answer is “No, I can’t.” But, as with most short answers, there is a longer story behind it…

If Ivan put this in one of his early Facebook updates, bear with me, but the day I was hit by a car I was actually walking to go play a concert and was carrying my violin. As you can probably imagine, ย my violin sustained its own set of injuries, but did survive intact enough that we are hopeful it can be repaired.

When I first woke up in the hospital, even a couple of minutes of listening to music was enough to make me nauseated, and my left hand had no sense of feeling or basic motor skills (for those of you who aren’t musicians, the violin is a left-handed instrument). Given these factors, I was too scared/sad to look at my violin, and my family took it home to save for when I felt well enough to look at it.

Fast forwarding to ย this February, I have some motor skills in my left hand, but no sense of feeling. I can now listen to pop music and some classical music if it features piano or cello, but my brain is still too sensitive to the high-pitched violin sound for me to listen for more than a couple of minutes (One doctor explained that I could have subconsciously connected carrying the violin to being in the accident, and that it might take some time for my mind to begin treating the violin as a “safe” object again). Nevertheless, last week I finally felt ready to look at my violin and try to see if I could hold it or play it. Looking at it was actually a very positive experience…the damage was significant, but not nearly as bad as I had thought. I borrowed Ivan’s violin (yes, he does in fact have one too!) for the playing experiment, since mine is still waiting to be repaired. As you can see from the picture above, I was able to lift it into position just fine…but after that I quickly discovered that having a numb left hand prevented me from controlling my fingers enough to actually play (this was sad, since I’ve been playing for eighteen years now).

A few weeks ago, even lifting the instrument into position like I did in the picture would have been much more difficult, so I am thankful for a small victory there! And after that…well, we will keep waiting to see if the nerves in my left hand will wake up or not (this is a wait-and-see from the doctors, since it can be hard to predict which faculties will return after strokes). And even if the feeling in my hand doesn’t come back…you can guess who will experimenting to see if it is possible to learn to play violin using muscle memory alone!

13 thoughts on “So…What’s up with the violin?

  1. Oh Grace. I am blown away again by what you have written. Thankyou for doing all you are doing to share your journey and encourage us all. This was a huge step. Brave and beautiful. I believe much good will come.


  2. Hi Grace,

    As a fellow violinist, though not of your caliber, I can only begin to imagine what it might feel like to be unable to play at this time. However, your attitude of trusting God and leaving this part of your life to his care is a huge encouragement to all of us, musicians or not! Your story has implications for ALL areas of all of our lives, and whether we are willing to let God have our talents. You know that your ability as a violinist does not define you, but it is exciting to see how God defines you, and how he will use this part of your story in some way to reach others. I will keep praying that your story includes a miracle in this part of your life, but I trust him alongside you!

    Samantha Elliott


  3. Your smile is worth 10 million. Have not forgotten to remember you daily. Can you mentally hear/play? Or is that off limits for now?


  4. What a HUGE blessing to see you Grace! You don’t know me but I have been praying for you and following your story from day one. And I will continue praying that eventually you will get all the feeling back in your left hand along with full function so you can begin playing the violin again – to the glory of God!! I wish I lived closer so I could come to help in some practical way. I know God is taking care of and providing for you and Ivan as only He can. Blessings dear one!


  5. You never cease to amaze me Grace! You are beautiful, brave, full of faith, & utterly inspiring. You’ve made incredible strides along this painful journey & I pray for your continued step by step recovery.


  6. Hi Grace, you are such an inspiration! I felt the same way about playing the piano after my stroke. Mr. Shafer encouraged me to try the simplest 5 finger patterns, which I did, as well as all the other finger exercises they gave me in therapy. It took a LOT of time, but now I am able to play once again (although probably not entirely at the level I had been.) It is amazing what you can do with muscle memory! I’ll be praying for your numbness to dissipate. Just keep plugging away. I am still seeing small improvements and tomorrow will be 2 years since the day of my stroke!


    1. Thank you so much for sharing this encouragement! I don’t really have a point of reference for other musicians who have experienced a stroke, so it’s great to hear about your success! I’m trying to work on 5 finger piano patterns right now too, since that seems more attainable than holding down strings at this point ๐Ÿ™‚ Love to you and all the Shafers! โค


  7. Our God is good, no matter what, He has a plan. Praying for you and yours, as your journey continues. My Mama (Joyce Erickson) taught me…from the good book,.” If you have faith like that of a mustard seed, you can say nountain move, and the mountain will move.”


    1. I cannot believe the sheer beauty of everything you write. Yours is a MUCH needed message. So many have rejected our painful, suffering times as those unique, excruciating but also precious times that Jesus draws in close and shares his life –jis very heart — with us! Your spirit is SO beautiful in its transparency, authenticity, simplicity of trust — and surrender — even in pain!! I am SO SORRY for your suffering!! But you have no idea how ministered to me today simply because through your honesty! LOVE comes through in everything you write. I think God must have allowed you to be named Grace for a purpose, for your spirit really does reflect the Grace of God. Thank you! I just started reading you today but read many posts. You are compelling. God bless you. I believe God is going to give you an amazing ministry, young lady! You are beautiful, and I claim healing for your body, even as Christ has almost healed me of many things. He is ABLE! But your trust — the witness of Hebrews 11 and 12, and of Romans 8 — is a God-appointed witness, to those who would not draw near ANY OTHER WAY!!!


      1. Hi Linda…thank you for your message of encouragement, and for taking the time to walk with us in this story! It is the love and encouragement, and especially the prayers, from everyone around us that makes a difference in our lives every day! ๐Ÿ™‚


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