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Klaus Kroenen

'Too-Daring' Late Starters

January 21, 2013 16:35

I've read blogs and messages here and elsewhere. Long story short - teenage violin beginner, wishes to pursue the violin seriously.

The violin, seemingly more than any other instrument, is one that it appears must be learnt from a young age if an outstounding level of proficiency is to be attained; and, as importantly, maintained.

Many famous guitarists - Jimi Hendrix, Paul Simon, and Eric Clapton to name a few - started when they were in their teens, or just a little while before. Hendrix is considered the greatest guitarist in history, and didn't play a real one until he was 15.

Some people debate whether it was a natural-born talent or hard work. Of course he put an incredibly amount of effort in, and it paid off.

However, sometimes I get the impression that when a teenage violin beginner states that they are willing to practice (and already practice) for so many hours a day, and accomplish the goals they set themselves to progress as well as they can, the underlying opinion is "You'll still never be able to compete with people who started when they were three."

Perhaps not. But there is a whole world of music out there that is not restricted to being a famous soloist.

Sometimes I feel that it can be disheartening, to think of people who started when they were younger. I could surely never be that good! I heard someone who started at 9 state that "they still started too late"...at they have a 5 year head-start on me already!

At the moment, I cannot comprehend how much immense time and effort these people have put into their work. They deserve every achievement thy get; they made it happen.

And yes, some people have somewhat unrealistic dreams. I talked to anotherbeginner online,and she was determined to get into one of the top conservatoires in the world, despite the fact that she was about 19 and practiced for an hour a day.

I don't think all teenager starters who want to be serious should be shunned, though. We KNOW we started late; I don't need someone else to remind me.

However, sometimes there are different examples - like Professor Terje Hansen, who started at 19, I believe, and now teaches advanced students.

He himself said that it was through gruelling hours of study that he became good, not especially an innate talent. This would seem, at least in his case, to blow the "Over 4 hours of practice can be pointless" theory away. Of course, his concentration levels must be incredibly high, not to mention his drive and endurance.

Was he discouraged in the beginning? Perhaps he would have stopped playing. "Well, I started at 19. It was fun, but it never would have gone anywhere useful."

People should never be discouraged at the very beginning. Then again, we have the dilemma of - are they 'talentless'? Then the follow-up dilemma of "Nobody plays like Heifetz after a week, month, year...or probably even lifetime."

Erik Satie was deemed untalented, and we know how that ended. He didn't do bad for 'the least gifted person in his school'.

There are lots of factors. There might be a teen starter who wants to pursue the violin, and realises with a broken heart that they'll never be able to get to audition standard (and let's face it, standards are incredibly high.)

Then again, they may be one of the Hansen's of the world. Rostropovich was considered the greatest cellist ever, and I believe he started it at around 9 or 10, although he had been taught piano from a young age. Still - 9 or 10 could be considered late by many standards.

I suppose we'll never know. I sit here, fervently wishing that I'll get somewhere with this. I also know that I'll put in as many hours as I need.

Who knows what will happen?

In any case, good luck to anyone out there. Keep trying, and keep believing you'll get somewhere. To quote Simon Fischer;

"Anyone who sounds very good has worked very hard."

13 replies


Baroque Music

January 12, 2013 15:22

I think a lot of us can say the same thing:

We love Baroque music.

I've never had to force myself to love or appreciate Baroque music; it was a passion that came as easily as breathing, and I'm sure there are plentiful others here who've been in a state where Bach is obviously FAR superior to breathing.

There is something beautiful about this era of music. Beneath the seeming simplicity of its works, there are a plethora of brilliant lines and instruments working together in such a way that you almost forget about the time signature. The Chaconne is not in 3/4 time; it's utterly timeless.

Pardon the dramatic tone here, guys, but I really need to vent about this, because it means a lot to me.

I'm a beginner, so I know there's a long road ahead before I can really beautifully play - and possible even comprehend - the depth and genius these works have to offer.

But regardless of age, sex, race, favourite kind of tea, or whether you play an instrument or not, Baroque music has a universal appeal.

Baroque violinist Monica Huggett described gut strings as being somewhat nutty in flavour - simple sounding, but full of depth, and an instrinsic lightness. I think this perfectly describes not only the tone of the gut strings, but of Baroque music as a whole.

A favourite piece of mine is H.I.F. Biber's Passacaglia. When you listen to it, it sounds puritan, fresh, simple; but even listening a fraction harder will open up the more intricate details of the piece.

I have always been able to connect to Baroque music and earlier music in a way that I have not connected to Classical music, or Romantic music. I love them all, but the former has a special place in my heart.

Like in all music, there is a work for all moods. When I'm happy, I love the bounciness and freedom in Bach's Partita No. 2 Gigue, the simple but lovely theme of Charpentier's 'Te Deum' Prelude, or a relaxing piece of Handel.

And then we have the darker works; of course the Chaconne, but the Albinoni-Tomaso Adagio, Dowland's rather melancholy lute works, and - strangely - Handel's Harp Concerto in B-Flat Major. I always cry at the last movement - although perhaps not through sadness.

When I'm in a position where I believe I can do these wonderful works some kind of justice, I would love to arrange some kind of musical evening at my school, with Baroque music quite predominant - if not totally dominant in the programme. Everyone should be introduced to this wonderful music. Even if this is all you take from this rant of a blog - tell the world why you love Baroque music!

One day, I have no doubt I'll be able to satisfy my dream and put on some kind of 'show', if you will, of Baroque music, with some other friends. My music teacher is a pianist, and adores the Bach harpsichord and organ works.

A friend on cello has yet to be convinced.

I'll tear him away from the Elgar and get him some Vivaldi if it kills me.

Thanks for reading. Have a lovely day or night, wherever you might be.

K


2 replies


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