Hello, everyone! I hope you're having a good day. It's been a while since I've written a blog here and there's good reason for it: I've been practicing like crazy!! So, I've been approaching each practice session with a better attitude and it seems to be working. Instead of wondering what will work and go well, I've been expecting everything to go well. Of course, not everything does go well but it keeps me more motivated and happy when more goes better than a few days ago. Yes, my Bruch is improving quite a bit, which is good since I have my first grad school audition this Monday. Just a few days ago, I was pretty nervous because some things were just not working but I set foward to work on them slowly, and in many rhythmic variations. This seems to be working very well. Also, I've established a much more secure and regular warm-up routine. I spend about 30-45min. on scales and then about 15-30 on some kreutzer etudes. With the scales, I also practice martele and do velocity exercises. I'm currently mostly working on E-major because that's the key of my Bach. It's extremely important to play this in tune because I've elected to play the easier Gigue movement over the Prelude.
Studying with a different teacher didn't pan out but everything will be fine and I know it will be. Thanks to everyone who sent me the emails, they were really nice to get. I'll respond to you soon, I'm on break from school right now so I have time. Well, here's to my first audition going well on Monday at 1pm... :)
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Ok, so my last blog stirred up quite the discussion. It was not meant to be about overall improvement on the violin. I consciously know that I improve everytime I pick up the violin. It was more about how much I love the violin and how I want to play it well, though it often feels as if it alludes me. Of course, I want to go to grad school and work with a teacher there but the pieces I've been working on since June are not ready, though I could concievably have another 2 months before I have to audition. A major part of the reason why I'm having so much trouble is for reasons I cannot mention here because it is such a public forum of discourse which ANYONE could read. Over the summer, I became positive that I could accomplish what I wanted in the next 5 months. My summer teacher was wonderful, pull of positive teaching and positive energy. I felt as if I could accomplish anything with him. The teacher is completely essential to the students positive thinking. Read into that how you will.
Taking a year off from rep (or at least the advanced rep) is what I see as needed. The teacher I had a lesson with said that a strong technique is the secret and the short-cut to playing the advanced violin literature. Working on nothing but etudes and scales for the next 8 months would drastically improve my technique and allow me to be ready grad schools next year. Also, I would like to apply to the most prestigious programs I can and only one of the schools I've applied to really fits that bill (Bowling Green). I have about a 50/50 shot of getting in there as I play right now. Though, I must say that UNI seems to be a very much underatted school as the violin teacher there is really quite good and the level of the program is high. It doesn't carry with it name recognition most likely because it is not a major university. As much as I hate it, the name of where you went to school often carries more weight than how you play or teach for that matter.
i would love to go to Bowling Green or UNI because I think I would recieve outstanding violin teaching at either school (same with USD). Both of the teachers there seem highly qualified and competent. However, at both schools, the teachers seem concerned with that fact that I'm still working on the basics of rhythmic control and pitch accuracy. I will be the first to admit that some of this is my fault but it has greatly improved since even six months ago. My rhythm problem really centers on the fact that I have a difficult time keeping a constant inner pulse that is same throughout. It's not always that my rhythm is wrong, its that I actually change tempos. When it comes to intonation, I can play in tune slowly through medium fast tempos, but after that it becomes somewhat shaky. My tone production is good, but my bow planning and distribution needs work.
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The violin is a cruel, heartless instrument. It sucks you in and brings you under a spell of complete lust. It holds you there until the moment you can't stand it anymore. You want to play it but feel as if your not worthy to wield it's immense power and infinite beauty. Everyday you bring it up to your chin, in hopes that today will be better; that you will be able to make an at least presentable sound. To your complete and utter dismay, you sound no better than you did yesterday or a week ago. You put the violin down gently, though you are in anger at your own abitlies, since you don't want to damage the precious violin, the focal point of your lust.
Currently, I am under my violins spell. I love the sound, the feel, the look of violin and it's music. I love to play it, to draw my bow across the taught strings to bring forth a new world of sound and colors. I do not find myself worthy to play such an instrument for its beauty in both sound and appearance seem to ellude me. I do not bring the violin what it wants, what it deserves. I only bring to it mediocre playing. My violin deserves better than me...perhaps it is time to let it have what it needs...
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I came a conclusion several months ago that I may not have the technique necessary to get into a grad school program. I have a technique but it lacks consistancy and is entirely too difficult to use. Today, this was confirmed. I had a lesson with a teacher in the cities which confirmed my worst fears about my playing; I'm still clearly working on basics. My playing needs to be broken down and rebuilt from essentially scratch. It's inefficient and I cannot accomplish any of my goals with it. The teacher was very supportive however and encouraged me to study with him to do this. He could very clearly see where my problems were with my playing and other elements surrounding my playing. He was clearly did not like the fact that I have not touched an etude in 3 year, though this was not my choice to do. We would begin the dissection of my technique with the simaltaneous study of several etudes aimed at specific problems. My learning of rep would be curved or nearly suspened during this time while I work on developing a solid and consistant technique to prepare me for the learning of the advanced violin repetoire.
In reality, I should have done this 4 years ago when I started at Luther but it did not happen. Perhaps I was too pushy in my desire to learn repetoire that resulted in this but I was also keenly interested in the pursuit of etudes during this time. The study of etudes is really the key to a solid technique on the violin and I've always thought that but some teachers disagree. Some students can learn technique by playing repetoire but learning technique by playing repetoire double's or even triples the learning time of a piece. It is not efficient nor is it useful. Seperating out "music" from technique is absolutely ESSENTIAL for mastery of the instrument. One must learn the basics of intonation from scales, arpeggios, etudes and basic music. Accurate rhythm (an ability to keep an inner pulse) needs to be learned in the practice of etudes and easier pieces of music. By easy pieces of music, I mean to say music which does not require a significantly developed technique. Also, good sound production must be learned on pieces requiring a less than fully developed left hand technique.
This is not to say that I will not audition for grad school next year, because I've applied I will. However, I am significantly leaning toward going to Red Wing and taking lessons with this teacher I found in the Twin Cities, who is a member on this site. Though, I am in no way, shape or form sure. Quite the contrary, I am completely confused to what I should do. Sometimes, I feel completely insecure with my ability to play the violin. Other times, I feel as if I was just having an off day because the next day is 10X better. However, I know that I would greatly benefit from a large dose of focusing solely on my technique or, in this case, obliterating my old one and replacing it with a new one.
I have a lot to think about and only time will tell what happens.
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