September 2015

An Essay from My 13 Year Old

September 13, 2015 07:31

Friday's lesson was a tough one. I had practiced extra hard and was sure it would show, but it didn't. My disappointment dissolved into frustration and at one point I just put my violin down so I could get myself together.

My viola-playing son and I share a lesson. His is first, then he generally reads or plays a game on his laptop while he sits through mine. This week, however, was the first week of school. He had forgotten a book, and the school laptops have not yet been issued for the year. With no homework left to do, he got bored and ended up writing this essay:

The spelling and punctuation is all his own.

My Petulent Mom - violin practice

Mom is getting really frustrated. I guess it's because she works really hard at violin but when she gets here she doesn't play as well as she thinks she should. Mr. A**** said that in the spot she's in in the books that she would work 100% and only get a 10% improvement. It got me thinking a lot of stuff is like that; it's like the further you get into something the harder it is to get better. I thought about it more and realized that 100% of work gets you 10% improvement doesn't make sense; 100% work does get you 100% of improvement their's just less to improve. So in the end Mom your already so good that there's less for you to improve.

I know your probably going to make a reason why your not good but the way I see it, you're leagues above me, and millions of people couldn't even stand up to you at playing violin.

It's amazing how he knew how to say exactly what I needed to hear. I'm keeping this one in my case.

3 replies

The Unsolicited Applause

September 2, 2015 10:15

I made my son clap once. Only one time in my three years of practicing have I made anyone spontaneously break into applause. It was for the first movement of the Vivaldi A minor, which I have now been playing for well over a year. For some reason, no matter how well I know the notes, or remember the dynamics and articulations, it sounds flat when I play it.

As a point of fact, everything sounds flat when I play it. My interpretation of music is like a foreigner’s attempt at a language they have read, but never heard spoken aloud. I can’t pinpoint why that is. It’s not as if I haven’t sought out numerous other performances of the piece, or tried every trick in my limited book to emulate the best of them. The musicality is always the part I simply can’t grasp.

Honestly though, during practice I am practicing. Either it’s drilling a particularly troubling section to get the fingering right, checking bow angles in the mirror, or grappling with getting the rhythm just so. Rarely am I playing with the pure intent of being musical. In fact, that is almost never the point of any of my practice sessions.

The other night I was wrapping up a practice session when my youngest son came down for his goodnight hug. Knowing better than to interrupt before I get to a stopping point, he curled up on the loveseat across from my music stand to wait. Noting he was there, I decided not to concentrate so hard on the technical bits and made the effort to relax and try to have fun with it. Suddenly, something clicked. Everything just seemed so easy and I was playing real music. When I finished, my son jumped up and clapped as hard as he could, then ran to give me a hug. “That was the best song ever!” he exclaimed before running up the stairs.

I haven’t been able to recapture that feeling, but at least now I know that I had it once. If it happened one time, it could happen again.

11 replies

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