The Wooden Music Box

When I was in primary school, every winter, Grade 6 students spent a few months creating their original wooden music boxes in the art and crafts class. It was one of the biggest mandatory art projects since the process involved carving of wooden boards, painting, and assembling of all the pieces. The project would usually start after New Year, and in late February, there would be a big display of colourful music boxes in the hallway.

Every year, I looked forward to seeing these music boxes. When the display started, every time I walked past the hallway, I would slow down to have a good look at each music box and enjoy spotting my favourite ones. If my friends were around, I would ask them which ones were their favourite, and we would discuss our preferences in detail. As I did so, I pictured myself having my own music box at home, a beautiful wooden music box that I have designed myself. What design shall I make on my music box? I would ask myself that question again and again until the graduation season came and the display came to an end.

When I was finally in Grade 6 and my teacher announced that we were going to start working on the music box project, I jumped with joy. While everybody else in my class ground their teeth trying to come up with a design, I immediately started drawing my design on the board. I had spent a few years thinking about this project, I already knew what design I wanted on my music box: a violin.

I was not a skilled violinist, but ever since my mother bought me a cheap, but real violin three years back as a Christmas present, I had been very fond of playing the instrument, and I wanted it to be part of my music box design. I carved out a violin and a bow on the main surface, then filled out the other four small side boards with a subtler design related to music.

Carving out a violin on a wooden board was quite a task. During that period, I was so into the task that I stayed in the classroom after school to work on my music box. Usually, there were several girls in the classroom, chatting and gossiping about our school life. I would sit next to them, half listening to their conversation, but otherwise totally absorbed in my carving task.

The colouring part was another thing that troubled many of my classmates. As for myself, however, I had decided to colour the entire thing in dark brown so that the music box would look like an antique object.

Once everybody’s music box was ready, the teachers displayed them all in the hallway. Among the colourful music boxes was my dark brown antique-looking music box. Not only was I satisfied with the outcome of my music box, but the music box seemed to have gained popularity, too. Many of my friends told me how beautiful my music box was, and several mothers who saw the display spoke to my mother specifically about my music box.

“They say they really like your music box,” my mother said to me. “Especially the way it looks like an antique object!”

My music box is still found on a bookshelf at my parents’ house. Whenever I look at it, the memory and delight of the time I daily worked on it after school comes back to me and makes me smile with satisfaction.