January 2011

My Eight-Year Journey

January 24, 2011 10:25

 This year is my eighth year of me being involved in music of some sort. That's half my life. The thought struck me whilst I was sitting on the bus this morning on the way to school, reading some discussions on violinist.com on my mobile phone. And in a rather strange way, that thought is scary, provoking both good and bad memories in my mind, but most of all, scary because I realise that half of my life has been dedicated to music. 

  I have decided to write some of my thoughts on my eight year journey so far. I am aware that some people reading this will be thinking 'Eight years is nothing, I've been involved in music twice as long as she's LIVED,' but please have patience - this is the longest (and best) 'journey' I have taken in my life. 

  First and foremost, I must say that when I first started music (through singing in a church choir), the feeling of belonging to a new community, a community of talented and dedicated people, of special people, was overwhelming. I have always had a great sense of being a small part of the bigger picture, and as we all work together, we are doing something fantastic. It is and always has been an utterly overwhelming sense that has made me feel proud and content around other people who are like me, and it makes me ready to learn and be hungry to gain more knowledge. 

  Secondly, when I was young and first starting out, I attempted to write music multiple times. I was always aware that 4/4 time meant 4 crotchet beats in a bar etc. but at my then younger age, when I wasn't as experienced, it was extremely frustrating when my attempts at writing music just failed completely. That resulted in piles of screwed up manuscript on the floor during my frustration and yearning to know how to write music. The day I acquired that skill was the day a whole new world opened up to my eyes. It was brilliant! Composition remains one of my favourite activities and it still makes me feel content when I watch a piece of my own work unfurl on a page in front of me, waiting to be tweaked and improved here and there, and finally, getting to play them. 

  It was an extremely proud moment the day I was accepted into a youth orchestra. I LOVED it! Over the time that I was involved, we played some amazing pieces of all genres, including Holst's 'Mars' from 'The Planets' and a string arranged 'Hey Jude' by the Beatles. It was great fun to go through all of the stress before a concert and then pull off all of our hard work in front of an audience. The feeling of being on stage, knowing that so many eyes are watching you and your friends is scary, but very, very fun! 

  Finally, I have shown myself and everyone around me that I can get through thick and thin. Whatever the problem or challenge, I'll get through it no matter what. Maybe it is dedication and love, or maybe pure stubbornness, but whatever happens I can and will get through it. 

  Looking back on the past eight years has shown me that although to an outsider it would not be the most perfect or easy time, but it has been absolutely perfect for me. And, I'm one to believe that everything that happens shapes who someone is. These positive things listed above don't mean that negative things haven't happened, but what can I say? I have learnt that life isn't all fine and dandy and if I really want to achieve something, I can, no matter what obstacles are put in the way.

  I hope everyone else's musical lives have been as productive as mine. I also hope the next eight years bring even more love and joy to my life than the last. 

8 replies | Archive link


Finding the Muse in Music... and a Very Hard Lesson Learnt

January 14, 2011 11:47

  Once again, here I end up writing about my utter frustration at how different I feel next to other people my age in and around school. I've been called 'sad' and 'weird' because of my obvious natural attraction to classical and modern alternative music opposed to the popular modern rubbish that pours out of the radio daily. I might sound rude or even snobby about modern pop music, but I really cannot stand how much it is overplayed and quite frankly murdered messily by people all around me. To me, modern pop music is hardly musical to my ears! 

  Moving on from my rant, I have come to write this blog today primarily about my English GCSE mock results. One of the tasks on the paper was to write an article aimed at teenagers about either Modern fashion, music or film. 'Oh dear,' I thought to myself as I stared at the page blankly. Rarely am I stumped for ideas during English tasks, but this one proved difficult to process. The reason is I hardly know a thing to do with these subjects. Fashion, film and music are fine, as long as it doesn't have the word 'modern' stuck in front of it. So, I thought about the topics carefully. 'What do I know about fashion?' I asked myself with a sigh. The answer was 'nothing.' I dress fashionably and enjoy a bit of shopping. I have my hair styled to the 'up-to-date' style too. But I am not the sort of person to religiously follow celebrity catwalks or read OK magazines like other people my age do. I've never had an interest in that, or even seen the point. So, I had to throw that idea out of the window. 

  Next, I thought about the film side of things. I enjoy going to the cinema and watching new films with my friends every so now and again, but I don't go very often so I don't know what the latest film rage is. That idea also had to go. 

  I sighed in despair and looked at the exam page blankly at this point. I was left with music. What do I know about that 'modern rubbish that is overplayed and murdered'? Nothing apart from the fact it makes my ears sore. All I could do was make the best out of a bad bunch. So, I got down to work, calling my article 'Finding the Muse in Music' and starting off in a very modern teenage-friendly way. 

  After the first paragraph, my article took a rather unexpected turn. I decided to ditch making a mess of trying to state what the latest singers are, but go with what I know. I described music right from the Medieval times and how music entered different genres over the years. I told the reader that without classical or baroque or any other old styles of music, modern music wouldn't exist how we know it. And I talked about the importance of having a 'healthy musical diet.' 

  But wait. What is the point in writing that last statement, without practising what I preach? 'It is important to have a healthy musical diet' is something I tell people, but do I actually do that myself? No. And after my struggle through the English exam, I realised that I need to push through my snobbery and listen to the 'rubbish that comes out of the radio daily'. I need to keep up-to-date with what people are listening to, because today's music will soon be yesterday's music. And yesterday's music shapes the music of today more than anything else. 

  All this history of music is something every one of us need to take into consideration. And even though some modern music now makes my ears bleed, I SHOULD listen to it and take it in. It might not be my preferred style, but at least I will know what will shape the future. Classical music is timeless, and pop is not so much timeless at the moment. But it WILL be remembered by many. 

  Finding the muse in music is not about listening to one thing; it is about listening to EVERYTHING. I have had to learn that the hard way, and I certainly hope you don't! 

I got almost full marks for my article, but I really hope something like that won't crop up again! From now on, a bit of added pop music it will be!

5 replies | Archive link


How to Feel Great About Your Playing

January 9, 2011 07:14

 There have been so many people lately on the discussion board and who have written in blogs have mentioned 'not feeling good enough' or 'not having the right amount of talent' amongst a number of other negative feelings. Personally, I have always struggled with feelings of not being good enough, especially when I see someone my age or younger playing at a much 'higher standard' as me or they 'have better technique than me' etc etc. 

  But what have I learned about this? It isn't necessarily true. In my eyes those people have better technique or seem to play at a higher standard than me, but they might just have a few differences in technique in comparison. It doesn't mean they are better than me. 

  I've learned this through 'socialising' with people who play the violin through orchestral groups and online. When I was in a youth orchestra, I felt like I was always the one who was behind other people; the only one struggling so to speak. But I quickly learnt that other people thought they were the only ones struggling with the same music. Nobody wanted to admit it though, because they thought it was easy to everyone else. Playing the violin is never easy. It takes a lot to even pick the thing up and get beautiful sounding notes and music out of it. 

  Anyway, this socialising with other people has been a great help to me. It has shown me that I can put my own stamp and personality into playing the instrument. I'm someone who can put my own character into the violin. Some people are better at their technique but maybe don't play the music as passionately or emotionally as it could be. And others are the opposite. I can learn over time to get the great balance between those two. And not only that, I've realised that when I watch people who are 'better' than me in my eyes, what can I do? I don't have to sit there and sulk in my own sorrows; I can go and pick my violin up and work towards playing that well too!

6 replies | Archive link


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