In concert: Jeff Walters
Seven years ago, Jeff Walters’ mom asked him what he would like for Christmas. His answer was a bit surprising, to her and to himself.
“I asked for a violin,” he said.
Not sure he was serious – the only other instrument Walters had ever played was the trumpet, and that was in middle school – she bought him a “cheap-o” violin, complete with an instructional DVD and methods book. He spent most of that year trying to teach himself how to play, but eventually signed up for lessons with local musician Alison Harvey.
It was Harvey who introduced Walters to the Summerville Community Orchestra.
“I thought there was no way I could be a part of the orchestra, I was an amateur, not a professional.”
That was in 2008. Today the 43-year-old is a proud member of the orchestra’s group of second violinists.
“I figured out that if you don’t give up you will keep getting better,” he laughed.
Walters explained that unlike playing the piano where a musician can hit the right note every time, the violin requires more finesse.
He played a cringe-worthy note.
“It sounds like a cat getting stepped on, if you think about it.”
He compared the instrument to a singer’s voice: “The strings are the voice box and the bow is the breath.” A violinist needs both to work in harmony for the music to sound correct.
A violinist also “really need[s] a teacher,” according to Walters. Since joining the orchestra, he’s taken lessons from conductor Alex Agrest.
“He’s just a really good teacher. I’ve learned more from him than anybody.”
Being involved in the orchestra is one of Walters’ favorite parts of living in Summerville, he said.
“Moving to a little town like this, and to have an orchestra of this caliber here, how lucky is that?”
Originally from Hickory, N.C., Walters came to the area 10 years ago for his job with SCRA Applied Technologies where he works as a software engineer.
“It’s funny, I spend all day with my head down writing software and when I play music it’s the total opposite, almost refreshing. It’s a good balance.”
Walters also loves spending time with his 5-year-old son Jack: “I enjoy being a father. I try to experience as many things as possible with him.”
But when Jack goes to sleep it’s time to pick up the violin again – this time in the laundry room to keep from waking him.
“I’m glad I get to enjoy this. The great thing is I play because I enjoy it, and if I ever stop enjoying it I will stop playing. But I plan to keep doing this. It’s just a great hobby.”