August 2005

August 22, 2005 16:46

Just a quick update... Its still pretty darn hot over here, so I didnt do that much practice today. About 2 hours. I think that im starting to get the hang of those octaves in the vieuxtemps, it is definately improving. I can hit the higher ones in tune, but it is such a stretch when you get in to first position, playing 1-2-4. IMO it is a harder stretch than fingered octaves. The rest of the piece is easy compared to those few bars. I seem to have to push my pinky as far as it will go to get that C#. If anyone has some tips on this piece I would really appreciate it. I tried playing caprice number 4 as well today. That is one tough cookie! I love all the chords, it is such a beautiful melody. The faster passages would take a serious amount of work to get up to a high standard though. Ill stick to my moto perpetuo, that piece is easy compared to most Paganini. I listened to Vengerov's I Palpiti today. After I picked up my jaw off the floor I had a pretty inspired practice!
John

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August 16, 2005 17:35

Today, I drowned my sorrows about my car by getting a taxi to the pub. I won a pool competition and got £15, and a mug that says "August pool champ". What is it about violinists who like playing snooker eh??!! Oh, and my friend recorded a 5 min. performance of me playing czardas, on his phone! It was such fun, especially because I havent played that piece in 3 years and it felt so easy compared to what I am practicing now. I guess that when you practice daily you dont easily realise what progress you actually make.

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August 15, 2005 16:27

Today I practiced the development section in the Vieuxtemps, man that octaves bit is hard. This is gonna take ages to master. Grrr!!! Other than that, its ok. Its coming, sloowly but surely. Another 5 years and it'll be at performance standard lol
Also practiced Caprice 17 which seems easy in comparison, the vieuxtemps has definately helped with the fingered octaves. It has been fairly humid today, and while practicing the trill section in the cadenza, where you have to squash your fingers right up, my second finger was rubbing painfully against my first finger, just above the nail where the skin is really thin. I ended up putting a bit of sellotape on my skin just where the nail finishes, to ease the friction. Jeez, the things we violinists have to go through. Also, my car stopped working today. It started, then died. About 5 times. at least I got some exercise and walked to where I was going. Walking sucks though!!

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August 11, 2005 17:40

A quick update on my friend who I gave the free lesson to....He said that he practiced for five hours last night, perfecting Ode to Joy! If only all my students practiced that much! I gave him some more things to practice today. The infamous 'twinkle', and a scale in broken thirds.
My own practicing is going pretty well, in the past few days I have worked the first few pages of Moto Perpetuo up to 180 bpm, which is great because it sounds just like the Ruggiero Ricci recording which I love. And it is completely automatic under my fingers, all I have to worry about is shaking my arm as if I have put it in the mains socket. I have memorised the rest of the piece, but can only play it at 80 bpm without rushing. Much more work is needed. Also the piece gets harder as it goes on, with more string crossings and higher notes, so I have been practicing those really slowly to start with. I owe all my progress on this piece to http://metronomeonline.com
I am also learning caprice no.17, I am just playing it a few times every day, slowly and perfectly, and using the middle section as an octaves study. I love this piece, I can remember finding it a really amusing when I first heard a recording(perlman). It is amazing how easy it feels up to speed after lots of slow practice. Apart from the octaves!
Im also learning my first complete concerto. I only started playing at 17, so have only learnt short peices and individual concerto movements as of yet. I didnt want to play something that is overplayed, like Bruch or Mendelshonn. I think that these are really over-rated! (dodges volley of rosin and abuse from angry violinists) I heard the Vieuxtemps 5 concerto a few years back and thought it was amazing, and I'm learning that now. I can play a lot of it up to speed, even the quadruple stops and what-not, theres just a few tricky spots like the development section and getting that little flourish at the end of the cadenza up to lightning speed! The cadenza was sounding pretty neat today though, and a past teacher gave me some excellent advice on up-bow staccato, which seems to have worked a treat. I cant wait to get this piece up to preformance standard, to play it with an orchestra would be amazing. It seems like a flashy piece, but it has some really beautiful lyrical moments with great counterpoint in the orchestra, and I love the way the end of the piece sounds the same as the start. My teacher complimented me on my intonation on the chords as well, which was really satisfying to hear after struggling with this demonic instrument for the past six years! Finally the technique that I have craved since I heard the Beethoven concerto is really coming together. YAY!!!!!!!!!!! Gives much hope to all those adult learners out there.... you dont have to have your technique down by 20, but you need a shedload of persistence and determination! Not to mention the dreaded P-word....
Happy practicing everyone

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August 10, 2005 16:31

I gave my friend a free violin lesson today. He is 30, and has never touched a musical instrument in his life. I have quite missed teaching over the summer, I enjoy it a lot. He did really well, he has big hands and slender fingers, and had no trouble with co-ordination. I taught him a D major scale, and Ode to joy. He played the scale ok, and he played the Beethoven very slowly as I wrote it out in tablature form. I explained to him how you should practice slowly and perfectly, and I saw him later on and he said that he managed it at a slow speed. Result in one day!! I let him borrow my spare violin, but didnt give him the bow. I find that the bow can scare people off, all that skwarking and stuff can be painful under the ear. I gave another lesson in the afternoon, and I actually got paid for this one. It was a house visit for a 10 year old girl who has been playing and taking lessons from me for a few years, and she is a complete natural. She practices very little, but can play a scale with faultless, effortless intonation. She has an excellent ear. They had bought a kitten, and it was jumping around the living room during the lesson. It was so cute! I adore kittens. It spent half the lesson in my case, and the other half jumping after the moving bows. I wanted to take it home with me! So cute. It was black and white, and had a little goatee and moustache on its face, awww. I think they'll have top put it upstairs next lesson though, its not very professional to have a ball of fur flying round the settee when you are trying to play Beethoven.
Im going to put a picture up tomorrow I think, not of the cat, but a picture of me looking contented after my recent job interview. Sorry for the dissapointment. Meeow

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