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Emily Grossman

More Arm Weight, Legwarmers

August 5, 2012 at 6:03 AM


(That's the sound of me blowing the dust off my blog.)

Don't worry, you haven't missed much, my friends. Since last posting here in May, I held our annual Steele String Studio recital, in which no one was killed, no one suddenly became Paganini reincarnated, but everyone played quite impressively. After that came summer camp and trail running, in which no one was eaten by a bear, everyone ate lots of cookies, and only one person died during Mount Marathon, my favorite Fourth of July mountain race. (Actually, his unfortunate demise haunts me to this day.)

...Hm, what else? It rained a lot. Going against the grain of the lower 48, we scored our coldest July on record and didn't really bother breaking out the shorts for the most part. I knitted some mittens and hats, and I also created some pretty nifty legwarmers, which I think I must show you in a photo attached to the end of this blog.

And so goes the end of summer, in a splash of rain and otherwise uneventful happenings--except for one thing, which merits the proverbial dust-blowing and re-emergence of violinist Emily Grossman (who actually hasn't practiced the violin since May). What news? you ask.

I just finished rehearsing the 1812 Overture and the New World Symphony with the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra.

--Sitting next to fellow member Michael Avagliano.

--Playing... viola.

"I didn't know you play viola!" They all exclaim.
"Ha, well I do now."

It's a blast.

From Emily Hogstad
Posted on August 5, 2012 at 4:57 PM
AHH nobody died during your recital AND you became a violist? Great news!

MORE VIOLA DETAILS REQUIRED, STAT. How'd the clef-learning go? What size are you playing? Did you buy your own? Any pain / tension / discomfort? What's it like playing viola in orchestra as opposed to violin? What inspired you to add the viola on (or - gasp - switch entirely)? There must be something in the water because I'm taking an orchestra audition on Tuesday...on viola, and only viola. (Although to be fair, I also just joined another orchestra on violin, so it's not like I gave up on the fiddle entirely.) Anyway...yeah! More details! Don't leave us hanging like that.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on August 5, 2012 at 5:53 PM
Please tell me about the knitting pattern for those awesome leggings!
From Emily Grossman
Posted on August 5, 2012 at 7:08 PM
I thought I play on a 16" (I'm 5'5" with long, ultra-flexible arms), but I'll have to check. It doesn't seem very big. I hadn't played it before this concert, besides teaching beginners, so I began with two ten-minute sessions and gradually increased the time over a 3-week period to three one-hour sessions. Made it through 4 yesterday and feel fine today. I honestly feel like I was meant for this instrument. I'm having the time of my life!

Laurie, I made that pattern up. I'll try to write it out and post it at, and when I do, I'll let you know! (...although, who needs leg warmers like that in CA? :) )

From Mendy Smith
Posted on August 5, 2012 at 7:20 PM
Another violinist that turned to the Dark Side. My plan for world viola domination is working!
From Emily Grossman
Posted on August 5, 2012 at 7:23 PM
PS In learning the clef, I refused to listen to any recordings until I had hashed out all of the keys, modulations, and accidentals. Both 1812 and Dvorak go crazy like that, so it took some time at first. We also have a Mozart piece, so I began with that and worked my way in. During this time, I haven't touched my violin so I could get it to stick. I'm finally to the point where I don't feel like I'm transposing anymore, just reading. I checked the trickiest chromatic pages with Michael yesterday, and was proud to only have missed 3 or 4 notes out of all of them.

My only problem now is, I can't really spit out their letter names, unless I think of what the pitch sounds like. I just know where it is on the fingerboard, and I hear them in my head by thinking about the context and the interval relationships. It's really helped my understanding of chord structures and theory. Of course, once you know the music, none of that stuff on the page really matters anyway.

From Nairobi Young
Posted on August 5, 2012 at 8:31 PM
I LOOOVE your legwarmers :) and I understand what you mean about the viola. There is something about it that is so...warming..heart-warming?.....soul-warming....I don't know, it's just warm :). The camp sounds like a blast and darn, a reincarnated Paganini would have been fun to hear AND see.
From marjory lange
Posted on August 5, 2012 at 9:12 PM
Back in the day, no one specialized in "literature" or "history;" one studied "humanities."

Back in the day, many didn't specialize in violin or viola; they played 'upper strings.'

Welcome to that rather besieged society!

From Patrick Tinney
Posted on August 6, 2012 at 1:10 AM
I wish I could knit. I'm too tense for it. Last couple of times I tried I couldn't get the first row off the needles. Have done a bit of tatting and bobbin lace, nothing that would keep one warm here in Central Texas.

What is in the pre-race video that non-participants would pay so much for a slot to watch? (Looked at Wikipedia)

From Emily Grossman
Posted on August 6, 2012 at 1:27 AM
They need to reword that sentence. They hold a mandatory saftey meeting and show a video to all the rookies the night before the race. After the meeting, they auction ten spots to anyone who wants to bid for a spot in the race. If you win a spot, you're in the race, and since you may not have run the race before, you will have watched the safety video already, so you're good to go. Friend me on facebook, and I'll show you some photos!
From Paul Deck
Posted on August 6, 2012 at 12:41 PM
The last thing I need is another detail-oriented, time-consuming hobby like knitting to take time away from all of my other detail-oriented, time-consuming hobbies, which include but are not limited to playing the violin.

Very cool pattern for your leggings, kind of a Bohemian look I suppose? Including a picture of one's legs in one's blog ... a first??

From Tom Holzman
Posted on August 6, 2012 at 3:12 PM
So glad you are back, Emily, and that you somehow, despite the odds, managed to survive the recital and summer. We will look forward to more on your new-found career as a violist and try not to ponder what your going over to the dark side signifies for us violinists.
From Marsha Weaver
Posted on August 6, 2012 at 6:58 PM
Best leg warmers EVER!!! :D :D :D
From Emily Grossman
Posted on August 6, 2012 at 9:50 PM
I would say the style is more of an "Alaskan Chic" kind of trend. These came in handy during the three-hour rehearsal in the unheated Ninilchick fairgrounds building.

I believe every violinist should learn viola at some point.

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