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Sparks

Krista Moyer

Written by
Published: January 30, 2014 at 8:51 PM [UTC]

There’s no short cut to this. No commercially-made miracle fingerboard guide, not the world’s most exquisite instrument, not fancy strings, nor Youtube video, raw talent, or fluke is going to make you into a violinist. There are two ingredients that make you a violinist – a violin and plenty of work. Everything else is secondary.

I knew this. In my head, I knew that it was going to take years to develop my skill (for I have no talent) to the point where I can stand to hear myself play. My heart, however, hoped that my dedication and inclination would abbreviate the process. My heart is accustomed to disappointment by now in matters such as these. And yet there is still a faint ache when I once again fail to meet my own expectations.

In learning violin, there are leaps and plateaus. Some leaps are higher than others. Some plateaus break faster than others. But it never fails. There will be a period of status quo for however long, and suddenly that skill you’ve been struggling with is now easy and you’re moving on to the next thing. Sometimes you get 10 things in a row before you plateau. Sometimes you get one, then weeks of disappointing practice where the simplest new skill is frustratingly beyond reach.

You will rarely hear from someone in the throes of the process that the effort is not worth it. Practice is the key to those sublime moments when what you hear matches or even exceeds what you expected. Occasionally there are whole sessions where notes fly off the strings like sparks off a sparkler and there’s no stopping the swelling joy over what you have produced. Though often far and few between, the potential for it to happen makes approaching each and every session with the violin conceive a flutter of hope that this time you will be on fire.

That’s what I dream of – a sublime fire, quiet passion. No need to become a touring soloist for me, just a competent musician. No double-stop will halt my progress, nor decrescendo bring me down for long. Because these skills can be mastered, and there will be new challenges to overcome, and new sparks to light. In the meantime, I will lean on my practice and hope that drawing the bow across the strings causes those smoldering embers to light up.


From Ellis Jackson
Posted on January 31, 2014 at 7:12 AM
Krista, I love what you wrote at the end about not wanting to be a touring soloist, but playing to your best ability and realizing your potential. Good luck!
From Karen Collins
Posted on January 31, 2014 at 11:12 AM
Thank you - this was exactly what I needed to read at this moment.
From Tom Holzman
Posted on February 3, 2014 at 12:44 AM
Krista - a wonderful statement about how most of us amateurs feel. Ups and downs, progress and plateaus, regardless of how good we are. We just want to be good enough to have a rewarding time playing by ourselves or with others.

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