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Even though he takes the violin very seriously, Dr Joe Lim of North Fitzroy Dental in Victoria, plays for the joy and fun of it.
“About 12 years ago, my violin teacher said, ‘You know, music can’t be taught. You have to feel it.’ That quote has really stuck with me. Anyone can pick up an instrument and play—but if you don’t feel the music, you’re not actually playing it. Music comes from the heart.
“My grandmother was a piano teacher, and she took me to see an orchestra when I was quite young. She claims that after the performance, I went on stage and told the conductor I was going to play the violin. Mum was a bit hesitant about me learning the violin. It’s a difficult instrument and my grandmother was a piano teacher but I stuck to my guns.
“I learned violin all through my school years and by the time I was 14 I had achieved a Grade 8 ranking. I was living with my family in Malaysia and decided to pursue a musical diploma. At age 16, the examiners flew to Malaysia and I obtained my Diploma in Performance from Trinity College, London.
“Soon after this, my violin teacher was diagnosed with cancer and passed away. I decided not to pursue music as a profession. Coming from an Asian background, my parents were a bit relieved when I chose dentistry as a career. Since then, music has been a pastime that I love.
“No two violins sound the same. Some are mellow, some are rich in tone and the concert violins are very bright. You have to pick up a violin and play it to know if it’s right for you.
“Over the years, I’ve played on stage with orchestras but mostly I play for pleasure. My all-time favourite piece is Beethoven’s D major Violin Concerto. It has a slow build-up, then a softer more melodious middle section and the final piece is upbeat, very fast and full of excitement.
“Violins have no frets so you have to feel for the notes. If you watch a violin player, most of them will have their eyes closed because everything is muscle memory, listening and feeling. I’m very fortunate that my wife plays the violin as well. We enjoy playing duets together.
“I love playing violin and being immersed in the music. Most of the classical pieces were written hundreds of years ago. To be able to close your eyes, play the music and imagine that you’re in that era is wonderful. It’s almost like having a time machine.”