I practice 6 hours a day, every day. How? Well, let me break it down for you:
Monday: 5:30pm-8:30pm—Physical Practice/ 9pm-12am—Straining my eyes in front of the computer watching youtube videos of great violinist, and writing, chatting on violinist.com.
Tuesday: 3:30pm-7:30pm—Physical Practice. 8:00pm-12am—squinching as I glare into the screen of the computer asking myself, “How does Anne-Sophie get that soft sound in some places?”
Wednesday: Same schedule as Monday, basically.
I think you get the point, so I’ll refrain from listing anymore. Most of my practice time is spent thinking and dreaming about the violin, and watching and listening to others play it. I must say the latter component of mental, emotional, and spiritual practice has improved me more in the last two months than the previous five years of physical practice.
Why? The brain is a great tool to any endeavor, so one must therefore stimulate it—by feeding it. One cannot write unless they read books. The same goes for music. Take in what other performers do then you can apply what you see to your own playing because by then what you saw the performer doing is cemented in your brain. Many would argue that you should try to develop your own style and not listen or copy other violinists, but I say, “Poppypoopysuitersandzigeunerweisensocks!!!” First of all, I highly doubt that I’ll be able to play like the greats just by watching them unless I am highly talented of course. One can only cross their fingers and hope. Secondly, what I am usually watching for when I look at performers is, how fast are they pulling their bow? What effect does that have on their sound? How curved is their pinky? Does it help or inhibit their trills/vibrato? What sounding point do the greats play on? Does it change?
Anyways, I have to say that I am so proud of one thing in particular. I CAN watch other performers now and NOT become so filled with jealousy, envy, and sadness about my own capabilities that I am filled with dread to pick up my own violin and hear the annoying sound of it. So, I guess my self-esteem in the violin area is going up. YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Note to the reader: Some will say that I do not have esteem issues and that in fact I am quite arrogant, but who are you going to believe? Me (truthness itself) or them (the very embodiment of lies)?
"I need a miracle. Please, I don't want to go back there!"
Tuesday afternoon, bulky flakes of snow pierced the ground while an elderly man walking away from an assisted living home shouted into the air, "I need a miracle! Please don't let me go back there."
Alfred, my violin teacher’s beloved son, a dog, walked me. We had passed him when his silence was only a mere whisper carried off with gentle winds, touching the tip of my ear, but not my heart. He spoke of invisible family and wearing away, but I could not hear him. So, I said a quiet, “Hello. How are you?” and walked on.
“Come on, Alfred,” I tugged on his leash. He stopped and stared at the old man once more. He pulled me on once he decided the man was no threat.
The elderly man wore a blue jacket, tattered green corduroys, and thick rimmed glasses. I have seen him everyday hiking towards campus, despite his slow pace. He’d converse with himself occasionally (or so I think he speaks to himself) in the mail room or the dining hall lounge, but in a quiet, subtle tone.
Today, his legs seemed to push him. His stomach poked out, and his head was two inches behind his feet.
I kept my eyes straight ahead of me, sometimes momentary glances at Alfred or the pole he would mark his territory on. But, never at the man, so as to not be rude.
The ground felt like a slide, and even worse, I wore sneakers. Alfred’s favorite hill was just around the corner, the man was far behind us now.
“Alfred, you cannot and will not run down the hill, today. I will fall and break a leg and some fingers. We cannot have that!” I yelled as he started to pick up speed.
“Alfred, I mean it. If I fall--.”
“I need a miracle! Please, I don’t want to go back there.”
“Stay, Alfred,” I said and glanced around to see who was yelling.
The tone was high pitched and strong. I grew scared. Is someone hurt? I thought. Oh, gosh.
I saw the man coming around the corner, looking up into the sky as he walked.
“I need a miracle,” he yelled. “I hate it there! Please, don’t make me go back. No!”
I stared at him in helpless agony. What could I do to make him stop making me feel this way? Stop yelling, I screamed inside. I can’t help you.
“I need a miracle!” He yelled, each time louder.
A young man walked by, I needed reassurance.
“Is he okay? He is making me sad,” I said.
“Oh, he’s like this all the time,” the college student, (I assume, since he had a backpack latched around his neck), replied. “Don’t worry.”
Why don’t feel I feel comforted? I asked myself.
“But I have never heard him talk out loud like this. I mean, maybe we should go talk to him,” I suggested.
“Well, if you want to lady, go ahead. He talks to himself all the time. Loud, softly—what’s the difference?” He continued to walk down the hill. I stared after him, my mouth thinned out, eyes wide with anger.
“I need a miracle,” the old man’s calls grew faint as he moved further away. Alfred began to stir. He looked into my eyes. He sat up and began to follow the old man, ears and head perking up everytime he heard one of the man’s calls.
“No, Alfred. This way.” I yanked on his leash. He came back.
I do not feel good, I said to myself. The old man’s words banged on my skin, my heart, my mind like a hammer on a nail (excuse the cliché). Give him a miracle, I called out, breathless.
So, I stopped. “Why am I passing on the miracle job to someone else when I could very well be the miracle?” I asked Alfred. He looked at me, frustrated. “Well, the only time I think of you as a miracle is when you give me a treat and food. Right now, you're a pain--are we going or not?” I could hear him ask me.
“We’re going back up that blasted hill,” I yelled at him. “Come on, Alfred! Come!”
We ran. I slipped--a couple of times without the horror of falling as a result.
The man came into view. His arms were raised in the air. I could hear a faint cry. Should I go to him alone? I thought. What if he is mean? What's the worst that could happen? Death, rape, teeth pulled out in weird ways...
Alfred jerked me out of contemplation and we were jogging towards the man.
“Ummm…excuse me?” I asked when I finally reached the man.
“I need a miracle. I need a miracle.” His yells had become whispers once more. He chanted.
“Ummm…hey. How are you? It’s a beautiful day isn’t it?” I said, trying to be as sensitive as possible. I was not getting off to a good start.
His head popped up as if he had an epiphany. “Are you okay?” I asked.
He glanced at me and his eyes seemed to glisten. “Are you talking to me, young lady?”
“Well, I am not talkin’ to myself,” I said and then muttered, “Oh, shoot” when I realized the implications of my reply.
“I mean, yes, I am talking to you. Alfred here does not understand much English. Just a few words like stay, sit, treat, food, and home,” the man stared at me for a few seconds and then laughed. I blew out a breath. My humor doesn’t always go over so well. I looked at Alfred, he seemed to say, “Good job, Jazzy. Just keep talkin’ and you might have us in the grave, yet.”
“Shutup.” I whispered.
“What?” the man asked.
“Oh…did I say something? Anyways, I saw that you lived in the apartment building back that way--,”I began.
“I don’t want to go back there,” the man muttered.
“What is your name?”
“I am Ralph.”
“What’s wrong with your apartment building?”
“It’s….” he did not finish his answer.
“Do you like musical instruments?” I asked.
“I play the harmonica.”
“Oh, cool. Does your apartment building give recitals?”
“No, but there’s a piano in the lounge.”
“I play violin. It’d be really nice if the people at the front desk would allow a recital. You and I could play together and maybe some students from the college,” I said.
Ralph looked at me with confusion.
“Why?” He asked out of nowhere.
“Why would you waste your time rehearsing with an old folk and playing for old folks?” He asked.
“Because I want to. I mean, and of course it’s not a waste of time. I enjoy playing the violin, so it’d be fun," I peaked at my cell phone. "Well, I do not want to keep you, so I am going to finish walking Alfred or else he’ll eat me.”
I strolled towards the hill.
A gentle wind touched my ear and in it I heard Ralph whisper, “Thank you.” I spun around. He was a few feet away, his head facing straight ahead, his hand folded in front of him.
I smiled as I watched him turn the corner.
After weeks of inactivity, I am writing a blog.
Today, I performed a recital on short notice--received the music a week ago, practiced it three times.
Oh, I did so good! Two years of working on sound and tone finally paid off. I shook, but did not lose dynamics or my bow. And I controlled those devilish little quivers with all my might. I didn't miss one note.
So, now on to the next segment of my study. I never received a solid foundation in rhythm, so I need to go back and drill myself, starting from the basics. I kind of rushed during the recital.
Otherwise, good, good, good.
I am so happy because just a few weeks ago, Anakin (my violin) and I had our biggest fight, yet. I cried and he screamed--horrible. I almost threw him out a window until I remembered he was not insured.
My sound improved so much and my bow control. I mean, I am just so happy.
Thanks to the V.com community. Special thanks to Buri, Joey Corpus, and Drew Lecher for their wonderful advice and future teaching. (Crowd cheers as I hold up my Grammy. Exit.)
Oh, busy, busy. But here is something for your listening pleasure. Tell me what you think of the interpretation, please.
Wow! So, it was my first time working during Production week for my school newspaper. I am the news editor, newly promoted.
Gosh! It was like milking a cow with your mouth. (I've never done it before, but I'd imagine it'd be tedious.) Reading through articles and marking them with the red pen. Reading through articles again and marking them again.
I did not even get to practice for a couple of days.
Tomorrow, I wake up at 6am to practice violin because that is the only time between classes that I have to practice. AHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Well, whatever. No one said college would be easy.
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