I vividly remember when my daughter, around her 10th birthday, choose her full size violin. She had gravitated to a small violin around 7 years old when a friend, a violin teacher, asked if she would like to try playing it. It was absolutely astounding to hear her pick up that little instrument for the first time and magically play tunes on it. It quickly became her best friend in many ways, expressing her thoughts and feelings through sounds. She eagerly began violin lessons and made rapid progress.
As is the case, this 7 year old little girl grew bigger and the violin did not. It became necessary to consider a larger instrument. So with good advice guiding us, we searched for a new, larger, more resonant instrument…..a full size violin. Thus began a journey which made a big impression on me. I witnessed her playing on a number of appropriate instruments, yet non felt “right” to her. I realized that playing a violin that you held in your hand, caressed under your chin, and stroked lovingly with a bow held carefully in your other hand was more than a complex sounding box. It was truly a physical and emotional extension of the player, of her body, her temperament, her sense of herself.
For quite a while, no instrument fulfilled all of these necessary requirements, though sweet sounds emerged from many of the possibilities she bowed. Much can be said about instrument choice. I was well aware of gravitating to the expressive qualities of the piano that I have played my entire life. But the violin, unlike a different piano to which musicians have to accommodate each performance location, was portable. You could always play on your own instrument -the instrument you lived with. The feel of your own instrument helped making music comfortable, knowable, and predictable. The performer does not have to adjust to a new instrument each time as does a pianist in concert. The violin felt to me, as I watched and listened to my daughter, like an extension of her entire person. Her need to feel right about her ultimate choice of a musical partner was always in the foregroud as she auditioned various instruments.
I recall the day that she found her instrumental soul-mate. There were three violins waiting for her to try out. At 10 years old, my daughter had played for only 3 years, but she had a sensitivity about what she wanted, what felt right in her arms, and what type of sounds she wanted to produce.
It was so clear when the “right” violin appeared – there was no doubt she was in love – that she had a special resonance with a particular instrument. I could tell that this violin under her chin felt “right’ physically and musically. It could express what she wanted to communicate. It became her companion for many years.
Fast forward to a recent, non-musical, genre that sparked the above memories. I needed to buy a new computer. My beloved non-musical keyboard upon which I express myself had outgrown its memory due to my writing projects. Adding more memory to my computer, like adding more memory to a human being, was impossible. Like a piano that allowed me to express my deepest feelings non verbally, my computer allowed me to do the same through words.
I loved my Macbook Air – a 2015 model – that had been my companion through many articles, 2 books, copious e mails, and facebook posts. I would never have thought of looking for a new companion had it not been the reality that my Macbook Air was not meeting my needs and would become a relic in a short time since the new Operating System had already undergone a change that I could not download on my current machine.
Thereupon began a journey for a new instrument – not a violin or a piano, but a computer with additional memory that would allow me to express myself. I had loved my MacBook Air and it was my belief that I could simply upgrade to a newer model and add more memory to it. My biggest concern was about the data “migration” (that’s what the Apple Techs called transfer of documents from one computer to the other). As I left my computer with them, I emphasized how “my entire life” was in their hands. It felt much like leaving a loved one undergoing delicate surgery in the hands of a surgeon. (I had backed up my files externally in a couple of places for security, but I was still anxious when I walked out of the Apple store alone and computerless.)
The following g day, I received a call that the data had been successfully transferred much quicker than anticipated. I got up to the Apple store quickly and eager to meet my new friend – now loaded with more memory than I could have in my brain for the rest of my life. I lovingly took it home to the learning curve that awaited me.
What I did not anticipate with this 2019 MacBook Air, nor could I hear in the noisy environment of the store, was the clacking keyboard keys. When home, I discovered that that the keys clicked – like someone was tap dancing with each finger stroke. It was not silent like the one from which I had transferred/migrated all my data. These rhythmic clicks would probably annoy people if I was typing to take notes during a meeting or sitting next to a stranger on a plane. Mostly the clicking annoyed me.
I took my Air back to Apple the following day, hoping they could change some setting to solve the problem. They explained a design called butterfly keys and told me that this feature was built in to the 2019 MacBook Air computer. I ordered a plastic key cover, hoping to mute the click click sounds, but that was no solution.
I began to read reviews by users of this model and listened to Youtubes by Techs and learned indeed this model of had fallen very far from the impecable apple tree in keyboard design. I realized no matter how I tried to adjust to the keyboard, it would always click and clack. Maybe this did not bother some people; maybe I was overly sensitive as a pianist who was attuned to the feel of various keyboard (no piano keys ever clicked!!!) I decided to give it a dedicated try and make myself adapt. Yet typing on this computer still did not feel right! Maybe I already realized, but tried to deny, this was not the right computer for me.
It was during the time I tried very hard to adjust I experienced other problems more serious than technology but attributable to it. My wrist started to hurt and then my arm and shoulder became painful as I typed . The ergonomics of the MacBook Air 2019 would not be a keyboard I could play. I knew I could not keep it. I now was convinced it did not feel right.
To make this story shorter than it could be, I discovered wonderful reviews about the 2019 MacBook Pro 16 inch model. Almost to a person, the reviews said Apple had design problems with Air 2019 keyboards and that this Pro demonstrated that “Apple was back!”. Not wanting a larger or heavier laptop (the Pro is 16” and the Air was 13” not to mention the additional cost), I realized this was a compromise I must make.
Back to the Apple store – and with the help of some very empathetic and expert geniuses I decided to take the plunge. After another successful “data migration” I can happily report I am the proud owner of this wizard of a computer. It has more functions than I will ever learn or need, but it is already comfortable to use. Like my daughter’s full size violin that she finally chose, this Apple feels right. Already the Pro and I are forging a responsive relationship. ( However, I do need to figure out how I can get Siri to stop appearing on the screen (uninvited) and asking “how can I help you?”)
There is more to this story than first meets the eye about computers or violins. The idea of “feeling right” can apply to so many things in our lives when we make choices. For example, choosing healthy foods and lifestyles, or exercising, or living within our means, or finding the right “fit” in a job or career, or taking care of ourselves physically and emotionally, or making life decisions about making a commitment to the “right”person.
Maybe you are happy with your MacBook Air 2019 if you have one. It was not right for me. A computer, like a musical instrument is a very personal choice. Like my daughter, I knew when I had found the right instrument. Now I can meaningfully and comfortably express both my words and feelings when writing on my computer. We are making beautiful music together…… because it feels right.
Image by hamonazaryan1 on Pixabay