May 2013

Push Me, Pull Me

May 28, 2013 08:26

I’ve recently discovered what floats my boat. While individual practice fills the gap between technique and desired outcome, I found that I really prefer to play with others. Lessons have always been so much more fun when my instructor plays duet with me. I was chalking that up to his expertise and my thrill in finally playing a piece well enough to allow for collaboration; but this weekend I realized that isn’t the case.

I dithered about bringing my violin on the camping trip. Would I have time to practice? Would my campmates tolerate the noise? Do I really want people to hear me play? Am I brave enough to play in front of people? Is the weather going to cooperate? Could I avoid damage to the instrument?

In the end, I bit the bullet and packed my case. The thought of four days without touching the violin was too depressing not to bring it.

To my delight, I did find some downtime Sunday afternoon to play a little. I started with some simple tunes. My playing wasn’t perfect, but my friends said they were enjoying it. Soon, someone wandered in from another campsite to listen. He excused himself only to come back a few moments later with a viola and a music stand. I put some of my music up, and we started the first piece. He plays a good deal better than me, considering he had to translate to alto clef in his head, and together we played several pieces before we both had to leave for other activities.

I can’t even begin to express how satisfying that experience was for me. I loved the collaboration, and working to blend the sound. The experience pushed me and pulled me at the same time. This is exactly what I need and want from playing the violin. I can’t wait to do it again!

3 replies


How the Guitar Made me Appreciate my Progress

May 1, 2013 06:21

My oldest son (age 10) took his first guitar lesson on Thursday. For the better part of a week now, our practice time has been jokingly dubbed “dueling strings” by the rest of the household. It has been quite enlightening for me. Firstly, in that guitar isn’t something you can just pick up and play as easily as I thought. I tried his exercises, and they are challenging! And secondly, that in 11 months of violin lessons, I have come much further than I was giving myself credit for.

As a pre-teen, my oldest boy can be emotional, and easily frustrated. But during practice, I recognize the source of his feelings and can sympathize with them. On reflection, I noticed that the basics of my instrument no longer generate frustration. In fact, while #1 boy is struggling with figuring out which fret he is on and what finger to use, I don’t even look at my fingerboard anymore. As he works out how to make his pinkie finger curve correctly, I’m flying through a sweet little gavotte. My playing might not be at the level I would prefer; but I no longer have to wonder how to draw the bow without making a horrible noise.

Timing is everything. My son beginning his music lessons just now comes at the perfect point in my musical development to give me an appreciation for how much I have learned. I think I’m going to enjoy watching him grow in his guitar playing as much as I am enjoying learning the violin.

And maybe now he can sympathize with my frustration with vibrato instead of laughing at me.

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