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My Story as An Amateurish Self-taught (III): People Around (“Colleagues” and “Audiences”)

Rizky Ramadhan

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Published: January 17, 2014 at 8:12 PM [UTC]

Hello everyone!
this is another continuation of my previous blogs about my life as an amateurish self taught...

Part I: here
Part II: here

If one is a professional musicians, audience is like one of the energy source of performing music, like an atmosphere that keeps the performance alive. From the performer’s point of view, I know I never really experience that feeling. But as an audience, I truly notice it..
But even if music is not my professional career, I personally think audience is still an important thing for me. At first, it simply just feels like I need people to be around me, to notice me, like commonly young people do (although lately I consider myself to be an introvert...and a bit not young anymore lol). However after few years playing, or you can say after “few year messing around the violin”, I just want people to experience what I feel when I play, especially the joy and particular emotions you can sense in each music.. I just want to share the music, just to let them aware that such beautiful thing exists and it doesn’t just popped out like magic, it is produced by hard-work, patience, passion, dedication, commitment, joy, and even sorrow... with time, energy, (okay I’ll try stop the drama thing) oh and of! lol
But what will these music that I practice mean if no one hears and understand what I’m doing?? I think I still can stand it. I play by myself for myself, for my own emotions, almost all the time. But on the other side I’ve always been wondering to feel the real experience, being with the proper audience...

If you read my previous blogs, you’ll probably have a picture of what I was/am facing. There are good things coming, but more bad things following. The people around me is getting worse and starts making me insane. Many new “professional violinists” are appearing in my city! It supposed to be great news, isn’t it? I REALLY DO HOPE it was. There are communities keep appearing and advertising themselves as professional classical musicians here. It’s good to know that nowadays many people here got interest to start learning to play stringed instruments, especially our popular instrument called violin. Here everyone can be a superstar violinist. When you play Bach’s G major Minuet (or I must say, Petzold’s Minuet) making you an instant “orchestra player”! You don’t have to care about bowings, fingerings, phrasings, articulations, intonations, etc. or even holding the violin. As long as you can produce the Minuet or ANY popular songs out from your violin/VSO with rumbling improvised ornaments, left-hand shaking (oh it’s called vibrato!!) and superfast tempo, you are a professional violinist! Plus, you just don’t have to read music because it just makes you become passive and static musicians. Yay! Well, I must back off because I DON’T DO THAT, and that makes me become the freak one because I DON’T DO THAT.
If you read my previous blog, I said “I was like a person from stone age seeing fire for the first time” when I saw the orchestral score at the first time of my life. But the people around are even WORSE. I’m sorry being rude but they ARE.
The other musicians from groups other than superstar violinists I described above are newly-learning violin players and they found their “fire” mostly from the internet within range of 2 or 3 years. They do read music, like reading crotchets or quavers in melody line of pop music vocal (which luckily written in sheet music) and voila! they are well-known as classically-trained violinists.. Yes, reading music makes you instantly classically-trained.. ANY thing you read does). Oh I almost forget that they also do arrange music. They write their own two-part violin score: same melody in unison, or occasionally in octaves.. sometimes they make harmony for those two violin parts by dividing the exactly same melodies of pop. songs into two different keys (for example: violin I in D major, and violin II in C major) and play them together.. “OH WHAT A SWEET DISSONANCES!”, they think... They have unique terminology as well, for example the key of C major is called “natural clef”... They made their own teaching books too.. Yes, they TEACH violin.
And the audience are seeing like their 5 or 10 violinists performing and say, “that’s a symphony orchestra!!”

Many of them never heard the name of Jascha Heifetz or even Itzhak Perlman! The pieces of music they heard is most likely just the Pachelbel's Canon or Bach's Air, etc. When I mention Sarasate or even Ravel, they would say I am an alien speaking alien.

In other provinces there are lots of music schools and professional musicians.. so many soloists and ensembles and so many concerts, so the people around them do have the picture, they have the awareness, consciousness, and knowledge. So even if the "barbarian" communities keep appearing, they would just be gone by time, or, they and the new audiences just getting “mannered” because they already have the right environment to grow.
If only we have the same things here, personally I would not have to care about them. But this is really pissed me off. I’m feeling so sad. I almost can’t do anything to change this since I don’t have time and power, I got many obligations to do, and this would waste so much time and energy. And besides, they would say “who wants to hear a self-taught?” They will just barely compare myself and themselves because we are all self-taught...


I'm sorry I really don't mean to mock about how bad they are. If only they just "keep calm", it would be probably better.. I'm just feeling so distressed. :'(

I might say I can only "cry" through my violin. All my hard-work almost mean nothing. That's why I keep uploading stuffs I played, I have NO intention to show off how good I am going alone all this time, but just to seek the real people anywhere out there, to hear their comments, not just "oh it's good and it's bad", but more like detailed comment so I can improve and correct myself.. Because I can't find such people here..
I'm quite lucky there are many good friends I met through internet.. so many performers, teachers, luthiers, students and even just audiences whom give me their honest words and I thank them, and you all :)

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on January 19, 2014 at 3:28 AM
that was really great. thanks for sharing it with us.
This kind of piece is very difficult in terms of vibrato ad I think you need to make clear decisions about whether you want to use vibrato and how much on every note of the piece. You could experiment with changing which part of the finger tip touches the string to see what new tone colors you can find. A lot of times you play fourth finger notes and they dont have the same quality of vibrato as the rest. This is a problem for everyone and its a fact we have to live with but working on it pays dividends.
About halfway through you play a harmonic but you dont adjust the bow speed or go near enough to the bridge . Dont leave the finger down on a flagolet. If the bow speed is fast enough then releasing the finger allows the note to ring.
You play an awkward shift from g to f high on the e sting using three and then four for the lower note. There may not be a better fingering but try to make it less obtrusive. Also, since it occurs twice you might consider doing a different fingering the second time. Doing the same thing twice is boring .
The fast run nearer the end seems to blurt out a little for my taste. You might try and integrate ore into the melodic line.
Very good playing.
From Lydia Leong
Posted on January 19, 2014 at 5:58 AM
This is quite strange. Did you dub the music over a video of yourself playing, rather than record the audio together with the video? The motions don't look synchronized with the audio. This is particularly noticeable with bow changes and shifts, but I'm noticing that the bow distribution especially doesn't coincide with sound intensity. What my ears hear and what my eyes tell me I should be hearing aren't matching.

From Rizky Ramadhan
Posted on January 19, 2014 at 7:18 AM
dear Buri, thank you so much for your detailed comment! That's exactly what I need since nobody here can't tell me such things and I have no teacher. I will keep practicing.

dear Lydia, thanks for noticing it. Yes I did that. I struggle like hell producing the best sound I can make so I took like 10-15 of recordings and honestly both my looks/visual and the sound didn't always doing good. E.g. a take looks quite nice but the sound was awful and the other one looks awful but sound better. (Although mostly I looked scary.. lol)
But I'm so very sorry if then this actually failed in eyes and ears, but at least it's still me who play :D

Posted on January 19, 2014 at 9:30 AM
Hello Riz, So much damage can be done by uninformed teachers. Perhaps some people see music as an easy way of earning a living, so one becomes a 'professional', as you say, after only a few steps. This is fine up to a point, and if you are only playing, but once you start teaching, it becomes a problem, because your students will be taught the wrong things. And so it spreads. Keep up the good work, Riz. If you are self taught, you are on the right path. You are gifted- you obviously have a good ear for intonation and tone- so follow your instincts. It's a shame you're not a professional! Yours, Ibrahim Aziz. London.
From Rubiantin Mesha Tambunan
Posted on January 19, 2014 at 9:35 AM
semangat ya, bang riz! terus berkarya dan jangan pernah berhenti belajar. :)
From Rizky Ramadhan
Posted on January 19, 2014 at 11:33 AM
Salam kenal dear Shasha! and thank so much for the encouragement.. I wish I could live around professional guys like you :)
From Rizky Ramadhan
Posted on January 19, 2014 at 7:14 PM
Thanks so much dear Ibrahim!
Yes actually if those people just play without publishing unusual stuffs, it would be just fine. but what I am afraid of is the public, which still has no enough awareness and knowledge. They (both the audience/public and those performers) don't have any picture about what they're actually doing. I feel embarrassed & sad..

btw your comment just showed up.. it's weird it appeared quite late as I notice there was no any comment before Shasha's.. maybe it's an error on my internet or browser or something...

From Aletha Kuschan
Posted on January 19, 2014 at 7:41 PM
I loved your interpretation of this music -- very direct, open, simple -- letting the melody convey all the meaning and emotion. I wouldn't have guessed that you are "self-taught" by hearing this music. In a sense, of course, everyone is self-taught at last since the real study of an instrument happens in practice and is between you and the instrument and the music.

In regard to criticisms, I can't offer any (full disclosure, I'm self-taught too and you play better than I do). As a listener, hearing the piece twice, I think you could experiment with subtleties in the dynamics. Particularly as the theme is repeated, I thought there was opportunity for a delicate restatement -- something softer and even more lonely, having the melody say something a little bit different with each repetition. But it is quite lovely as it is.

A further point, though, about criticism. You have made a very definite statement with this piece and it really comes down to what you think about it. If there is something that you feel you could've done, that "should've" been different in some aspect -- you could ask more experienced violinists how to move toward whatever difference in sound exists between what you played, and something that you aspire toward. Otherwise people will be essentially just telling you how they would have played it, something that might not address your goals at all.

The real question is does this form accomplish what you felt?

Part of the artistry is in deciding what you want, what sounds need to be there to get what you want, and afterwards determining whether the piece as you played it accomplished your goals and arrived at that musical idea.

All I can say is your playing would have accomplished my goals. It is really so very lovely.

From N.A. Mohr
Posted on January 21, 2014 at 12:07 AM
Excellent! You should be very proud of what you have been able to accomplish on your own!
From Jefta Jedidiah
Posted on January 23, 2014 at 12:47 AM
I really appreciate that you are trying to be honest about that! It takes courage, though :)
I feel the same way also goes to some of the new "professional singers" pops all around. Haha.
Thanks for sharing with us!
About your playing, I watched your video several times and I can't say anything, your playing is awesome! Mainly because I can't play as good as you do :( and I want to learn that song so bad!
Anyway, don't let them discourage you to continue playing and learning!! Semangat kak Riz!! :-)
From Helen Lawrence
Posted on January 23, 2014 at 4:08 AM
Your performance was very beautiful and I liked how you presented it overall. It would have been good if the video and audio were synched better, but I know how hard that is!

I'm just a student like you but I sometimes felt that you weren't giving enough attention to some of the lower notes. I agree with the others in saying that it might be good to try and add a bit more variety. Follow the principal that you never play the same part the same way again. Also the fast parts stood out too much, maybe that was because you were trying to fit them into the piano.

Otherwise the overall performance is very lovely and I enjoyed listening to it. I liked you vibrato. Keep it up.

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