Purple violin has young school musician in hot seat

FARMINGTON, N.M. — When it comes to fiddling around, the classic wooden body seems to be preferred in the orchestra class at Farmington’s Tibbitts Middle School.

Camille Cruz was told that her purple violin was not suitable for the orchestra class and the sixth-grader would have to rent one of the district’s violins that is a more traditional color for $30, Sherry Lopez, the 11-year-old’s mother, said.

Lopez said the teacher, Monica Leaming, cited a difference in tone and distraction as the reason for changing instruments.

Lopez became agitated when her daughter informed her that she would need to find another violin for the class. She has called the school principal and district officials lobbying for equal treatment for violins of all colors.

“It’s like telling Axl Rose he has to use some guitar from Kmart,” Lopez said. “He doesn’t want to use that. He wants to use his own guitar.”

Calls left at Tibbitts Middle School were not returned.

Cruz said she was allowed to use her purple violin in class earlier this month. She was not certain if her teacher changed her mind about the violin or if she will have to find another violin to be in the orchestra.

School district officials were notified of the tension in the Tibbitts’ orchestra on Friday, Chris Pash, the director of secondary curriculum and instruction for Farmington schools, said.

He was confident the matter will be resolved promptly.

“We’ll work something out that’s going to be agreeable to both sides,” he said. “We don’t want to keep anybody out of orchestra.”

Cruz said the violin was a gift from her grandmother two years ago.

Her grandmother purchased a purple violin because purple is Cruz’s favorite color.

Cruz is a beginner at the instrument. Her repertoire of songs consists of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Good King Wenceslas” but she’s hoping to learn more songs in orchestra class.

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