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Fishing for Bass.......Yes...it's violin related ;-)

Eileen Geriak

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Published: March 26, 2015 at 10:51 PM [UTC]

Sitting here listening to Janine Jansen's performance of the Britten Violin Concerto...which Blackerby Violin Shop has posted on their facebook page. Violin soloists are so fascinating....is there any other instrument that a soloist has to put so much physical energy into....and at the same time have to be so finessed and delicate...all in one piece ? To switch back and forth like that is fascinating to watch...the intensity and concentration......yeah...I suppose cellists like Yo Yo Ma come pretty close....but THEY get to sit down !

I just had a great lesson yesterday with the concert mistress of a nearby city's symphony orchestra.....what an interesting person she is...and so energetic and full of enthusiasm. It was a "meet and greet" session so we did a lot of talking for most of the hour and it was quite enjoyable. She had me so relaxed and comfortable that when she finally asked me to play something....I was so ready. I showed her my violin...she played it and liked it right away...(oh my goodness but her small living room has fantastic acoustics ...I almost didn't recognize my instrument when she started playing on it...but of course...she's "Good" !) We chatted about the violin some then I pulled out my concert repertoire and chose one of the more interesting pieces that I thought I could do a decent job on. While I played she was busy typing things out on her laptop....checking the wood in the fireplace (yeah...it's still cold up here in New England)...and generally fussed about...not 'obviously' looking in my direction. Now...being smart like I am....I realized what she was doing and very much appreciated it ! She was making me comfortable by NOT hanging over my shoulder...she was certainly listening as I would see her out of the corner of my eye... hesitating when I faltered at a spot...and then slightly nod to herself when I straightened it out on my own...or not. Halfway through she said very enthusiastically..."GREAT !..."Play something else"....so I riffled through my stuff and pulled out something with some other technique or other...and that's how it went for about 10 minutes....meanwhile she was jotting things down on her laptop or fussing with something over by the fireplace....listening and watching...but not in an obvious way.

After we finished....me playing my pieces and she sizing me up....she gave me some recommendations for some books she thought would be a great help to me which would address some of the issues that she saw I need work on......we chatted some more...she recommended a good luthier that she trusted..which I could take the violin to. She was very interested in me getting it checked out and suggested that perhaps I could get a 'verbal' appraisal and a general checkup...just for good measure...which I will do.

Anyway....yadda yadda...that was my visit with a professional soloist/concert mistress/violin teacher/spincycle instructor/bass fisher woman...and aquarium geek (she had one in her living room...I immediately knew this was going to be a good meeting!) lol... it was fun and I am hoping that she enjoyed the meeting as much as I did. I will get in touch with her in a couple of days to let her that I am interested in continuing...if she would be interested in teaching me. BTW....there was no charge for the meet-N-greet and she scheduled me in at the end of her day so that we could take our time and not be hurried.....she's a true professional !

One of the members of a violin site I visit had this to say about the meeting......."She must be an earthy sort to fish for bass! I'd be wary of the dry-flies-only-cast- to-rising-fish type!"

And then added as an explanation...."I don’t want to offend any fisher person out there BUT there are people who may liken bass fishing to fishing for catfish with worms or chicken liver as bait… something only a very down to earth person would do. Some would call a fly fisherman a purist. However, among fly fishermen, purists are only those that fish for trout and do not use wet flies or nymphs, only dry flies. The ‘dry-flies-only’ type would probably consider themselves higher on the evolutionary ladder and they may view those who fish for bass as lower life forms, like some violinists view viola players. Who would want to take lessons from such a person? An accomplished violinist who fishes for bass, IMO, is a rare individual well worth investigating." :-)

I'm excited ! We'll see how this all plays out ! :-)

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From Adam Johanson
Posted on March 27, 2015 at 3:04 PM
Ha, well I'm definitely not, "An accomplished violinist who fishes for bass" but I am a bass fisherman who's addicted to the fiddle. It's funny how you mention the fly fisherman perhaps snubbing their noses at bass fishermen (with their big expensive boats, heavy duty equipment, etc.) because I can say with much confidence: the bass fishermen aren't worried about how they're perceived.

There's probably a definite correlation in that comparison and maybe how some violinists look at violists or how some classical violinists view fiddle players.. The viola players probably aren't worried about it because they enjoy playing the viola and the fiddle players don't pay it much mind because they're enjoying what they're doing.

I spent the better part of a year with a band and learning a bunch of songs I didn't particularly care for. I did get some experience with improvising and learning solos by ear which was fun progress to make, but by and large, I didn't like most of the music we were playing. We parted ways a few months ago and I went back to learning fiddle tunes and old time tunes, and now my practice time is so much more enjoyable. My new rule is that if it's not fun, I don't do it!

The guy I took lessons from, though, is an accomplished fiddle player who likes bass fishing. His name is Bryan Duckworth and he owns a violin shop in New Braunfels, 45 minutes south of Austin. You mentioned this type of person would be worth getting to know, and there's a small video on YouTube where someone asked him to give a little bit of his background: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdWYNYYosSo

From Eileen Geriak
Posted on March 27, 2015 at 9:20 PM
Hi Adam...I didn't actually make the comment about the bass fishing...it came from a fella at another site where I had shared about the lesson. But you had mentioned how bass fishermen don't care how they are perceived pretty much made the point.

This violinist I had the lesson with is an accomplished soloist and concert mistress and I suppose the temptation to think more of herself than she aught before all the 'lesser' concert folks... is pretty real. But that's not her.... she told me during the "meet-n-greet" how when teaching a high school orchestra you have to pretty much make a fool of yourself, because if you try to wait until everyone is paying attention...you loose them. So she just has them play and she shouts directions to them while they're playing as she's waving her arms around directing. Not the picture of decorum I suppose in the world of orchestra, but....she gets results and they respect her.

I think I like this lady ! :-D

From Suebin Park
Posted on March 28, 2015 at 10:57 PM
Glad you had a positive experience. :) Sounds like you got a lot out of the interaction.

It's funny you mention Jansen's Britten concerto and the physicality of playing the instrument, as I do recall a video in which an interviewer commented upon that aspect of her concerts. She laughed and said the concerto was much more emotionally draining rather than physically tiring. Almost hard to believe, seeing the way she goes at that poor Strad sometimes. I do have to say her interpretation is definitely one of my favorites out of the few for this underrated piece. Anyhow, sorry for getting a bit off topic, haha. Great blog post.

From Eileen Geriak
Posted on March 29, 2015 at 1:05 AM
Haha....thanks Suebin, no worries about getting off topic...I had not read that interview. I can't imagine standing and playing any piece for a whole half hour...it must be draining in more ways than one !

I just got an email from the teacher today...telling me that she would be "happy" to work with me.....I can't wait to get started ! :-)

From Christina C.
Posted on March 30, 2015 at 5:01 PM
Congratulations Eileen, it's wonderful to be able to study with a teacher that feels like a good match.

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