V.com weekend vote: Which name would you take down to make way for another: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert or Wagner?July 23, 2010 18:42
You will hear more next week about my violin encounter, but I today I'd like to give you a vote, inspired by a walk up Michigan Avenue, as I was leaving the shop late in the afternoon Wednesday. I smiled as I walked past Orchestra Hall, home to the Chicago Symphony and Civic Orchestra of Chicago (I played briefly in the Civic Orchestra, so I can say I played at Orchestra Hall!). As with many older concert halls, the building has the names of several important composers etched on its face, in this case: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Wagner.
As I was staring at these names, Robert peered over my shoulder and asked what I was already thinking about, "Which of those composers would you take down, if you could, and who would go up instead?"
Good question! And so I pose it to you: Please vote for the composer you would eliminate, and in the comment section below, tell us whom you would nominate to be up there instead. You are welcome to simply post a name, but if you have some thoughts on the matter, please tell us about them. Also, let us know if you would simply leave things the same. I'll tell you later which one I'd vote off the island; I don't want to influence the vote!
But as I looked around at the various mysterious tools, the pots bubbling with varnish, the bottles of this and that, the violins in all states of assembly and all their parts individually, I thought, "How much do I really know about my violin? How much of this could I do myself?"
The answer is, very little. I can re-string my violin, I can get the pegs to work (soap and baby powder), I can adjust the bridge if it's way off, but not do a fine adjustment. Wouldn't it be fun to know more? But for now, please chime in on what you can do with your violin. I've undoubtedly left out a list of 100 repairs one could do, but I just thought I would list the big things. Any input from luthiers is quite welcome!
Do you play better with or without the music? Vote first, then I'll tell you my answer:
I'm pretty comfortable playing either with or without the music, but when I'm truly serious about a solo performance, I play better by memory.
There are a few reasons for this. First, any piece that I know well, I know by memory. I'd argue that if one practices something to mastery, it generally becomes memory. Also, playing without the music frees me to focus fully on the music: how it sounds and how it feels to play it. I'm not a visual person!
But, I know some extremely talented professional violinists who have told me, "I really don't play well by memory," and they are far more comfortable in a chamber situation, with the music there. Which gives you your best performance?
For me the answer is yes, the violin was my first instrument.
Sometimes children start playing the violin precisely because there are fractional-sized instruments that are suitable for their small size. On the piano, for example, an octave is an octave, and if you have the hand of a five-year-old, you will likely be unable to reach it!
Actually, on that fateful day when I came home from school after hearing another little girl play the violin, when I begged my mother to let me start playing the violin, she first said, "No."
"Why?" I asked.
"You're going to play the piano," she said.
"But we don't have a piano!" I said.
"Good point," Mom had to admit.
So I started playing the violin!
What's your story? Please vote, then share!
More entries: June 2010
Enter to win Leonidas Kavakos' recording of the Brahms Violin Concerto.
The Weekend Vote is from Pasadena, California. Biography
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