11/11/2012 07:04AM ● Published by Christie Gibson
Gallery: Violin Virtuosa [4 Images] Click any image to expand.
Close your eyes for a second . . . well, figuratively . . . You couldn’t actually keep reading if your eyes were closed! But imagine for a minute if you could actually see sound waves – specifically the musical waves of an elegantly played violin! What would they look like? How would you describe them to someone who has never heard such a majestic instrument? Hmm . . . just imagine for a moment what those sound waves actually feel like . . .
From the very first chord, the sounds from a violin emanate like soft, smooth ripples across a still pond after an invasion from the surface has broken the glass-like top. They penetrate and envelope you like thick, soft velvet draped around a cold body. They surround and cover you like cool, freshly whipped cream coats a ripe, just picked strawberry. They instantaneously warm your ears like a steaming cup of homemade soup; peaceful yet hearty; refreshing and sweet - like cold mountain spring water to a dry, parched mouth and rich like a fine Columbian coffee paired with a dense cheesecake drizzled with raspberry sauce! They fill you, body, soul, and spirit, reverberating through your inner self like a bear hug from the very source of all that is love.
Now, imagine for just a minute if you were blessed with the gift of making such music. How would you use it? In what ways would you share it? Would you use it to entertain? Teach others? Inspire the next generation? Enhance and enrich the most magical of life’s milestones and most momentous occasions? Sedate world leaders, offering a calming reprieve and welcoming invitation in the most famous house in the US? What would you say if I told you that one such humble and mighty woman has done ALL of those things with her incredible gift of music and lives right here, as a hidden gem, On the Coast? Yes, it’s true and she continues to use her gifts to this day.
Watching her high school neighbors practice violin and cello in their yard, Ms. Hayes determined at the young age of eight that she too would play and learn those magical notes. In doing so, she followed in the footsteps of her father and grandfather, who both played “folk fiddle” before the turn of the century. (Carol still has her father’s instrument and calls it her “beach fiddle,” taking it with her to sit along the gulf coast and play her heavenly notes to any who passes by.) She graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Music Education, violin concentration, and then obtained her Master of Music from Catholic University of America. After spending some time teaching then playing in both the Norfolk and Richmond VA Symphony Orchestras, Ms. Hayes matured with grace and beauty in all manner of being, as she “watched the world go by” during her 22 years of service as the principle violinist for the United States Marine Chamber Orchestra, stationed in the entrance foyer of the White House
When asked what those years were like, Ms. Carol Hayes sweetly smiles and humbly replies she was simply “in the right place at the right time.” Yet, during those years of service within the White House, Ms. Hayes played for five US Presidents including Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton. She played for world dignitaries including Lady Thatcher, the Prime Ministers of Singapore, Israel, Thailand, Japan, and Australia, the Presidents of Iran, Germany, Venezuela, Italy, Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Nicaragua and Korea, Queen Elizabeth of England, Queen Sirikit of Thailand, the King of Morocco - people who ran the world, as well as special events for the first families! Picture for just a moment what it must have been like being a musical note filling the halls of the great White House through four distinct political regimes and witnessing the changes, tensions and peaceful resolutions that took place during those days. What an honor and responsibility to behold! Wow! What a duty. What a charge to take on! The Orchestra, following the simple cues and hand motions from the White House aides to “play on” and at times to “play louder” did just that, time and time again, while witnessing world powers move and perform an integral part in the plans for our very futures. What wisdom and discernment those beautiful clear, blue eyes and intricate, intelligent ears of Ms. Hayes have taken in. What a gift she has received and freely given.
Remarkably, she is as equally honored by her teaching opportunities, still taking in private students today and encouraging the next generation of musicians while mentoring for the Youth Orchestra. In addition, while in “retirement,” the talented Ms. Hayes has appeared with the Symphony Orchestra in Pensacola and Mobile, served as Assistant Concertmaster for the NWFL Symphony Orchestra and currently enjoys an active schedule playing as a soloist for private parties, weddings and her church, as well as serving as a member of the Silver Strings Trio, traveling and playing throughout the area.
When asked if her gift is more in music or in teaching, Ms. Hayes replied, “I believe my true gift, one that belongs to ALL of us, is the gift of learning.” And again she humbly believes that her teaching and musical presence within the White House do not define her, but have simply blessed her life. She believes she still has more to learn and has a great respect for those not “classically” trained as she was, but of “different proficiencies” like Celtic and Nashville bluegrass specialties; those she considers having “young fingers!” Ms. Hayes shyly smiles and stated that the one thing she has learned is that the longer she lives, the more she realizes how much more there is to learn! She believes her teaching and playing is incidental to her concerns for others, holding firm to the teachings of her Savior that “what you do is only incidental to who you are.” Ms. Hayes does not view her teaching as a higher gift than her musical talents, nor do her musical talents and accomplishments hold a higher position of honor than her teaching. Those two things are what she does, but not her most worthy gifts.
She believes the greatest gift on earth, one unparalleled by any other, is when God incarnate gave His life to redeem all humanity from the consequence of sin and evil. Her true gifts stem from who she believes she was designed to be and who she believes created her. The ability to play music, teach others and share her talents are a mere reflection of that; her offering of her faith and love for others are what she believes truly define her.
During this time of year especially, what a wonderful way to reflect, be thankful for and give to others! Ms. Hayes reminds us all that “everybody can give” and that a “gift” by definition is “something, as in being a useful object; a delight the giver likes, or would like to receive; a shared commodity.” Whatever your talents may be, during this time of year, give! Give your time through service in your church/school, volunteer in a soup kitchen/food bank, help a neighbor with yard work, decorating, or food preparation. If your talents are musical, contact your local nursing home facility and volunteer to put on a concert. Make cards for our military still serving overseas, help collect coats and toys for struggling individuals… the list is endless. Thank you, Ms. Carol Hayes, for your gift of music, your gift of teaching, your gift of grace, your gift of insight, your gift of humor, your gift of humility, but most of all, for your gifts of love, compassion and for the shining example you are to others!