Well, I have decided that sometimes it isn't so much that I'm having a bad playing day, it is more like a dis-cernation day. Perception off balance somehow. Body misaligned somehow. That kind of playing feeling like the bow is just one rosin chunk, so sticky and still not getting sound all the way, scratching, and everything sounds so rough and unpolished. Later in the day I returned and everything was different. This is a regular thing. I don't know if I should be damning some part of my technique, or just not trusting the way the violin feels in my hands and sounds in my ears. Anyway. I refused to give up and, even though I felt totally insensitive musically, made myself keep going over passages until they felt semi-seductive...
I realized that I'm eating chips the second time in a row writing a blog. This has got to stop before it turns into a bad habit....
I'm trying to eat chips and dip and type at the same time...
actually..the Beethoven concert is tonight, not next week. This is the issue. I really want to go to a live concert, and I miss it, but...
God, I hate driving downtown. I hate parking downtown, and I don't like going by myself. My husband has a dislike for Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. The whole summer is dedicated to a Beethoven series. I suppose if I'm going to miss one, this would be the o.k. one because the violin concerto is next time and then they are doing the 9th symphony...both of which I really want to see. Tonight is a Beethoven piano concerto. The performer is one of my favourite pianists to watch, but I'm not as hyped about the piece. I guess we'll play it by ear. It's that, or Donnie Darko, which came in the mail today.
I may have mentioned that I go through phases of listening to music and then not at all. Today began my listening period again. I put my computer on shuffle and it randomly picks music. Right now Brahms symphony no.4 is on. Before that it was Stockhausen "sirens". Before that, it was commercials. Yup, electronic music, but television-style. They are funny. And Tindersticks and Bjork. Hm..some of these things I don't think to listen to when I'm not in a class, but it is nice when it comes on. Pavarotti followed by Philomel is always fascinating...
Well, I managed to finish off the chips.
Guess I had better go do something productive.
I had minor surgery today. Yesterday I didn't practice because of the miserable way the preop made me unable...anyhow. So tonight I practiced and it felt and sounded better than I have felt about it in a long time. I was sitting down, and I am pretty sure the anesthetic affect had worn off, but I was relaxed. I hope that tomorrow the same thing happens! It makes me realize that 95 percent of my technical issues would fix themselves if I learned to breathe and relax in general and in accordance with playing. The natural tension held in my muscles without conscience, (my shoulders in real life are always always held high and my back tensed, which constricts neck, arms all, but I'm used to it). I'm now becomeing aware and it is very strange. Somehow sitting down produces better technique for me. So it is in the standing up that I misuse most of my body.
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It is amazing how the day flies by and then it is night and I'm finally ready to really work on violin stuff. I am such a nightsoul, too bad my neighbors...actually come to think of it, they are noisy, so maybe I should deshroud my bridge of the mute and challenge them. Hm. I did manage to get some, I assume, good work in on Schradieck and Bruch 3rd mvt. before I realized it was 10, though. I'm working on getting my fingers....totally...and...completely....even. Have you ever put the metronome on to one of the highest settings so that you can play to the 8th note and still play fast and then stopped playing and listened to just how funny it sounds in a quiet room? Or is it just me....
I've decided that there is something fundamentally wrong with not having a cup of coffee or tea or hot chocolate or something sitting on the dresser during a practice session. I usually think of it as a comfort and somehow it motivates me in an atmospherical way ??? to practice. LIke, it puts me in the mood just to have it there. I don't even hardly remember to drink any of it except maybe when I stop to write comments in my practice journal or to switch music and I'm like "oh yea, I need that". But today I scrambled in there to practice without it and after about five seconds I wondered where it was and why it felt so wrong? I guess I need a lot of "comforts" to get things done. It is almost like a ritualistic existance actually. I am a very scheduled person in a random scattered way. Each week changes, but the events are all very articulated. Practicing is not exempt. I love it! What am I going to do when I am forced to get a real job and can't play around so much making practice schedules and notes and reading websites (he he) and practicing and, um, ah, labeling my music and stamping it and organizing it and playing it. I like to pretend I am sometimes striking "the thinker" pose, hand to chin, ardently contemplating the philosophies of life and music and existance...and then I realize my mouth is open and I'm slouched over in a blank stare at the wall thinking about brushing my teeth.
But we all like to have images of ourselves to delude us of our time management. Hey, maybe there isn't a thing wrong with wasting time blanking out and wandering to thoughts of brushing your teeth. Plus, I have a kitty cat. She definately is worth allotting about five hours a day to.
Wow. I'm rambling. Case in point...practice break is now concluded and back to, hm, scheduled Bach, but I think maybe the Bruch is not finished for today yet. I have to come to terms with the fact that I must learn the sections I hate in order to be allowed to play the ones I like....
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Sometimes I go for weeks without listening to music (on purpose). And sometimes I just can't get enough and do practically nothing else but listen to and explore and download new music. I am in a dry spell right now where I just have not had the impulse to hear anything. Except when I practice, I suppose. I guess it is because I'm more in "reading" phase. Being a visual learner, I actually retain and aquire more in most ways from reading. But I wonder if sometimes the ear and brain just get overloaded and don't want to have to process sound. Well. I'm off to read my novel. It feels somehow like a reward. Friday night party!!!! Clean the kitchen sink, play with the kitty cat, light a candle and read. Saturday night gets even more exciting. I clean the bathroom sink and read about how my car works so I can pretend to be a mechanic on Sunday....
The days, of course, are reserved for practicing, playing on the internet, and slamming a raquet and ball around an enclosed room of white walls and glass.....the door opens from the inside, he he...:).
I have been very high strung as of late. Appologies for over-reacting on any of the threads. Today is a better day, though I must be off now. I'll let you know my latest scams and projects and practice attempts later.
The Style of Artist:
Supplies and God.
A token, a symbol, a bygone hope,
a destiny from this frozen dream that is real-
as real comes and goes.
in perfect style, perfect intelligence-
speaking to others of this worth
I only feel on the other side of my neck.
I wear it like an extension
as the care I add into the appearance of my instrument
fused with musician
makes me valid.
The black nylon hovers with the solemn-
the handles, brilliant with impromptu electrical tape:
it has all been thought of for safety.
A leather strap and an ID card.
which didn’t say anything identifying
Nothing more than the passing comments in the streets.
She is going someplace.
It is all quite impressive.
I suppose I can sponge-
let that illusion of achievement, purpose,
diligence, genius, and something ado about a
slide through the open air
which has stifled beneath the zippers and
weather safe material.
Taste through my teeth before I speak…
I like carrying around my instrument.
It makes me believe that person is connected
more than body to package.
But most days that connection refuses to pass
through the barriers of my skin.
How to let go of straps weighing shoulders down
pocket jammed with music learned and music to be…
How to regret
the blinding ignorance of those who understand
without pretense, yet take the intuition of it,
the core of the music.
Instead I am blindly infuriated with
the loss I feel for what was once my own shadow of devine.
She spurs her eyes to defend herself
cry out through body of varnish and holes
so I might feel compelled to kiss her
turn her into something once again simply beautiful.
Cure my spine.
Today I may carry her as a reminder. To bring back
possibly…one of those some-of-days enticed for
at least a moment.
I speak to her back there as I pass a hallway:
she stops you abrupt, passes through those words
“You are so blessed with the gift, the talent..don’t ever waste it.”
Why always this?
Like I might pour a bottle of wine down the sink
or miss something on my calendar
or throw myself in front of danger.
Why can’t I waste this as they waste?
Yet I am somewhat stubbournly pinned to my resources. The world takes
its historical maybes for granted with
such historical dogmatic eloquence.
Different each thousandth year.
When the case opens
to the real catalyst,
my brittle hands work,
frustration and dedication.
I keep waiting for that gift to
but in the meantime all I can do is
work hard, knowing it isn’t a blessed gift.
There is no golden violin inside
of my rib, passing through to their ears. Just
what is inside of this case,
which intrigues you so, with your satisfied
and approving smiles.
She reminds me of the most high:
passion and desire and the unknown reasons
to always keep it living.
Raw insides tearing outwards.
Which makes the day sing-
or makes me enjoy the thought of an instrument
tatooed on my back, the importance
it somehow suggests.
In which case, I should trade it in for
a much less heavy and cumbersome shoulder bag
full of something else.
Like a camera.
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Well, today has been strange. I had a CT and they put this IV with contrast in it and afterwards I was like "my arms are numb" but she said that was from holding them above my head. After a crying jag, I think from just all the stress, and a nap, I just woke up and at the computer realized that my arms still feel clunky and not totally with the program and are hard to control. I am so weird. I've been doing a lot of yelling and bawling lately, especially on the phone. And then I call back immediately to appologise and start all over again. I don't know what is wrong with me except that spending as much time as a full time job dealing with administration and the medical field can do that. Mostly I was just really angry that I, the patient, am not allowed to have information pertaining to myself, but they will gladl fax it to another doctor. Anyway. As far as violin playing, I'm just not in the mood. Or to do anything else, so I guess I"ll trudge over to the case and open it on up to see if there is a violin inside of it or not. Then I'll look at it for awhile and be like "hey, this is mine", after which, I'll remember that I can play it...and then I'll remember that it is fun.
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I didn't sleep much but wanted to get up this morning and ride my bike at the mountain trail. I keep just sitting and staring at the wall trying to make myself motivated. Hm. But I now would rather a. go back to bed or b. just throw on my jogging clothes and run here because it is easier. My pracicing is like that sometimes, too. Oh well. I think maybe I'll go to bed. Perhaps it is a sign from the body that relaxation is in order, though I'd feel BETTER about myself if I went bikeriding and then practiced. Hmph.
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I think that one of the hardest things I have to learn about the violin, is exactly what role it plays in my being, and what percentage of my character it is allowed to claim. I definately go through stages. Sometimes it isn't an issue at all, even. But at others, it is a source of much confusion or satisfaction or stress. Someone asks why I am a musician. Do I answer that I love music with my whole being and heart, or do I answer that since the age of four, it has been what I have known. I have spent my whole life preparing for it and being immersed in it and know no other lifestyle? Do I practice because I truly want to improve, or out of a sense of guilt, or because if I don't play for a few days, something feels not quite right stirring within, and I start to not act like myself?
I remember in high school, I worked full time at McDonalds to earn some money for the family. I developed friendships and relationships in the workplace, but I kept telling them that they really couldn't know me all the way until they heard and saw me play. Unless they were part of that. I really believed that. Throughout college I became increasingly aware that my life's tides were directly connected to my playing successes and failures. I could not separate someone's opinion of my playing or comment about a performance from who I am. If a concert felt bad afterwards, I was depressed for days. I was a failure. I know you get the gist.
Last summer, as some of you are aware, I had experiences which severely shook my sense of what I am capable of. I became unable to positively look at the future of my violin career. I didn't want to practice. It was a two way street. My personal problems affected my playing, which had become my identity, which made things spiral. When I was feeling on top of the world, the rosin flew and I sounded amazing. Needless to say, I was inconsistant and my playing was inconsistant. And I knew enough to know that professionally, one must have consistancy in their playing.
So I thought I'd quit. But I didn't know who I was without it. And I became very bitter. Very angry. That it had come to this. That I was a wooden instrument and not a person. That music was my language and not english. I wasn't allowed the option of quitting. It wasn't fair. I couldnt' do anything else. I was stuck forever. So I trudged on, if anything pretending, that things were the same. But it was hard to really give my all.
Something has changed, though. I don't know if it is age, or graduating, or separation from something. But I finally feel as if I can love music for its own qualities. That I can understand my playing and how it is part of who I am because I am in control of it and I want to be. Partly this is because I all of a sudden have to make career choices. I have to decide, almost like a pie chart, how to allot my time and energy. What I truly want to do and what I truly am. Partly it is because for the first time in my life, the pressures have lifted and I realized that I still want it. I practice for myself. I don't care if I don't reach some set standard. It makes me work harder because it is in my blood to apply myself and obsess about it and make my little practice schedules and research and grow. And I can feel satisfied. If I am playing badly one day, I don't think I am bad. And as for a career, I want music! I want to play the violin! But I can do other things at the same time as well that I enjoy. It isn't exclusive. I feel like, as a puzzle, the pieces have come to terms with each other and are sliding into place. I am many things and I may have illnesses and limitations and want to learn other trades. But I am a violinist. I am also Jennifer. It is hard to explain, actually. I would not be the same person without my violin. But I would not cease to exist. I'd adapt if, say, I had an injury.
I think, to some extent, anyone who is deeply emmerged in the music world must deal with this at some point in time. It can be the downfall of a person if they can't find balance between world, person, and event. I caution against driving too hard and investing everything in your violin. It can lead to success, but ultimately, don't we want to play because it makes us happy? That can get lost. I used to practice 6 hours a day. Then I burnt out and couldn't get more than 1. RIght now I'm at the point where I practice about 2 or 3 hours a day. And if something is wrong in life, then it will not be the fall of this person to take a little break. It isn't like hybernation. It is like meditation. Anyhow. All that said, I'm excited about my practice schedule for today. I'm off to dig into it.
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I have made out detailed practice schedules for myself for the next week. So far it has worked very well, and it increses my focus and sense of forward motion. Plus, it requires more time to be spent practicing, but none of it is frenzied ultimatum, despirate practice of the MUST or catch-up variety. Because I know that whatever I feel is being neglected, indeed isn't. IT has its slot. Anyhow.
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