I just love playing Mozart's Symphony #40. It's so sweet and light, and the second violins even get to play melody, a real treat. It has been one of my favorite pieces since childhood. I still remember the LP (vinyl disc) it was on, with Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony on the other side. My mother loved it, too. My mother and I did not get along, were not close, and music that we both loved provides me with rare opportunities to feel connected with her. Our conductor had us try somthing startling and fun when we played this Mozart piece. We changed our seating onstage to be like that of orchestras of Mozart's time. The second violins sat where the cellos now sit, and the cellos sat next to the violas. It was incredible what a big difference it made in an unexpected way. I was totally disoriented! I had my standmate change seats with me because the "inside" and "outside" were reversed, but I was still confused. Seeing the conductor on my left was confusing somehow. I just didn't feel quite right. I don't know whether the orchestra sounded different to me because of the seating since I hadn't played this piece before. Other people said that they heard the orchestra quite differently. The violas, for instance, were right near the concertmaster and the first violins, instead of the second violins. Even the conductor, who initiated the change, found himself cuing the second violins on his left, when we were really on his right. It's amazing how disorienting a small change like this can be.
Thanks to Scott and the others on this site who wrote about the joy of playing Bach's sonatas and partitas. I had never even seriously considered trying them since they're so difficult. Scott gave me suggestions on relatively easy parts to try. Equally important, many people wrote that this music is challenging but also rewarding. You're all right. I've started playing the slow parts (none of this "double presto" stuff) of partita #3 (E major), and I'm having so much fun. I'm hooked. Yes, it's challenging, but it's so very pretty. Every little increment of progress feels so good, just like exercising. I "choked" on the dissonant doublestops at first, but now I've discovered their charm. The dichotomy makes them feel like they're "My Funny Valentine."
It is now almost exactly one year since my relationship with my beloved significant other ended in tragedy and violence. I cry so often and have so much trouble sleeping. He loved music, too, and much of my music reminds me of him, for better or worse. I have a long way to go before I'm healed. I suppose I'll know that I've healed when I can listen to music he loved and still feel good.
I was inspired to try something similar with another student. Voila again! His violin started to sing. Even when he played slowly and on the E string, it sounded so sweet. He could hear the difference, and he grinned as he struggled. Wow! He, like the other student, is quite talented, and soon he'll make sounds like the ones he hears in his head.
Teaching has had a good effect on my own playing. I see my students work hard to get a small improvement in playing, and I encourage and praise them. Then I appreciate my own small improvements after hard work. Then I practice more and have more fun. It's contagious. It's great.
Revisit Violinist.com editor Laurie Niles' coverage from Canada of the 2013 Montreal International Musical Competition, including her interview with gold medalist Marc Bouchkov.
Pauline Lerner is from Rockville, Maryland. Biography
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