The Irresistible Violin: Beth Odets
by Netera Landar
(note: please see the in-world magazine or download Unforgettable Magazine #4 for more photographs.)
Beth Brown has been a professional violinist for twenty-seven years. She plays both Classical Violin and Fiddle in real life, and bridges her love of music by landing on a virtual stage.
Known as Beth Odets in Second Life®, she has a great sense of humor and isn’t afraid to state what’s on her mind. Her original songs show an eclectic mix that ranges from Blues to Bluegrass, and Mozart to Metallica.
Beth has dual streamed with over 125 SL musicians over the past 3-½ years. There is a crossover in Beth’s virtual and real life music. Matthew Perreault is her real life music partner, who has produced her solo album entitled, “I’m Not Matthew,” which can be found on all the major Internet retailers. Beth is also a member of SL musician Guitar Zane’s real life band. They perform together one to five times a month.
Opportunity made Beth pick up her first violin. It began when her five year old brother received a violin to be enrolled for Suzuki lessons. Wanting no part of the instruction, her parents were going to return the violin. Beth, who was ten years old at the time, considered the opportunity, and asked her parents to let her take the lessons.
“I remember the first night that I practiced in the den of my mom’s house. I am sure it was the most horrifying noise, but it sounded so pretty to me,” she laughed as she recalled the memory. “It’s like a kid putting on a tutu and dancing around and feeling like the most beautiful ballerina.”
Beth started private lessons when she was twelve. When thirteen at her Bats Mitzvah, she played the Bach Double Violin Concerto with her teacher. It was far from the smooth sounding music she performs today, and that frustrated her.
“I had no clue how to make music out of the mathematic formula I was reading. I put it down. I was in the symphony for a year after college. I quit because I hated it,” she confessed, and asked her husband, sitting on a lounge chair nearby, how many times she picked up her violin after they met.
Chris, who plays the saxophone, explained, “You didn’t pick it up for a couple of years. So I invited her to a jam at her favorite bar.”
His intentions were to involve her in music again. Call it destiny—a hillbilly band was looking for a fiddle player, and coincidently, her violin just happened to be in the car. She questioned how that all came together.
“The next week I was playing at Fish Fry Bingo, and 2 ½ years later I was running around saying, ‘Did you know music is fun?’ So I picked it up because he tricked me into going into a bar!”
She admits that her best “thing” is writing a journal online, which she was actively doing before she started to blog. There’s also a bookshelf full of journals she’s been writing over the years. She also spends hours every day drawing, which is more meditative for her.
“I use to feel that I had a lot of words to get out of my system. Now, I think I got over that a little bit—call it maturing. I grew up and stopped writing about my life, and started living it.”
“Living it” comes on many levels. Beyond the reality of being Chris’ wife for 14 years and mom to 14-year-old Zachary and 12-year-old Helen, her involvement in Second Life is another part of her life. It began when her former roommate, a role-play gamer, asked her to check out this virtual world. She said she wasn’t interested, but her roommate encouraged her to put her drawings up for those in-world to see.
“It was 2005, and Second Life was pretty empty at the time, so it was very empty. I went in, and for the first month or two, I only uploaded a couple of pictures. I made a little pond with a bench, and I hung out there in the woods. No one was around. Interesting and fun, I learned how to build a little bit—starting with various elements of a synagogue. But, I wasn’t going to build a synagogue—just a Torah, an ark, and Shabbat candles.”
Yet, with these beginnings of a SL synagogue, within a few weeks, Beth scheduled the first “Hanging out in the Sukkah” activity. To her surprise, twenty people showed up! They were interested because nothing like it existed in SL before. So she switched her mind-set to bringing people together that didn’t offend anyone. She introduced cultural activities, without offering anything religious.
“Whether you’re observant, or you’re Hasidic, or you have never been in a synagogue, anyone is accepted here. If you do know the stories, then it’s fun. And if you don’t, you don’t feel it’s over your head.”
Beth was interviewed by Talk of the Nation, and she was given an award by the Jerusalem Post. She is very proud of being the leader of the Jewish community in SL.
“Every Friday we do six candle lightings. They are ceremonial representations, and every one happens two hours before the actual lighting time—so no one can say we encourage participants to do it here and not in real life. There are over 170 people now that started coming to my sim, and also went back to Shul (a synagogue) in real life.”
On her sim, find a Seder Table complete with matzo and wine. Also see an exhibit of Beth’s art, a New Orleans area, a Mitzvah Bar, Fiddler on the Roof, a large bottle of Manischewitz wine, and even a Holy Hot tub. Torah Talk is held at the Hebrew School. Personal perspective is exchanged versus religious dialogue. Beth hosts no weddings on her sim. For the last few years, Beth has allowed the group that revolves around Second Life Synagogue Group to govern themselves. This gives Beth freedom to explore creativity, play music, and find balance in both her rich real and second lives.
For more information, please contact Netera Landar, Editor-in-Chief, neteralandar.gmail.com.
See the issue as it first ran in the virtual world release of Unforgettable Magazine #4 (download PDF) with more graphics and photographs. See Issue #One, Issue #Two, and Issue #3 for more features and profiles.