Three weeks ago we (Joyce, my wife, and Olga, Clara and Fleur, our daughters) were at the International Summer School of Music, at Dartington, UK. One of the traditional features of the School is the instrument workshop, where anyone can come and ask a question, or play something and ask for feedback. Another is the master class, which is for advanced students, a teacher, and an audience.
The violin workshop cum master class was taught by Hu Kun, a marvellous teacher. After hearing me play for a few minutes he taught me to improve bowing and tone by relaxing more, and during the rest of the week that teaching worked a small miracle for me. Of course, I knew about the importance of relaxation while playing, but all the same I wasn't doing it! Hu Kun advised me to approach it as a meditation, and while I practised according to his instructions, very happy memories came back from the time when Josef Hampl first taught me the very same thing.
"Let it happen, and don't try to control it", Hu Kun said, "otherwise you are like a cat chasing its own tail."
Hu Kun about playing in tempo: "Entrust yourself to the rhythm, instead of trying to play in tempo."
The whole course was like that. There were far too few people present. Only three students were there for nearly the whole week: two very young and very brilliant girls, obviously representing the master class aspect, and yours truly, a typical workshopper.
I have taken up meditation again as a result of this week, and I'm grateful for it.
Olga, my oldest daughter wants to play the violin. Why, o why didn't she think of that when she was seven? It will be a lot harder at 25. Still, it's a joy to have a violin-playing daughter. I shall try not to burden her with my expectations.
Anyhow, she has started on a book that has lots of duets in the beginning. The accompanist plays a song to the student's open strings.
Now, to help her practice, I have made a recording of the first few songs, and experienced again how complicated it is to play something simple.
Here is a modest sample, complete with one-two-three-four in Dutch.