September 2006

The Shoulder Phenomenon....stress interfering with normal body movements.

September 28, 2006 21:08

So, for the past two days I've been convinced that I'm having a bow arm crisis. One of those where all of a sudden you are conscious of something just not right, but can't remember what "natural" thing you were doing all the time and then the whole thing just becomes clumbsy and totally engrossing and frustrating as you try to imitate your own bow hold and realize you didn't really do what you thought. All of a sudden nothing is in control, and it just gets worse and worse the more you are aware and upset about it....

But then this evening I have had an acute awareness that my shoulders are raised in tension and stress...even when I consciously try to relax them and let them down, they resist and then the neck tightens blah blah blah. So I think that this particular week is making my body a tight mass of inresponsive, disconnected chords (cords?). It is no wonder that my playing is all of a sudden different. So...I don't need to spend six months re-doing my bow hold after all.

I need a hot bath, a massage, stretching, and some honest to goodness sleep. And for tomorrow to be done with. An all-day on the go from 7 a.m. until the opera thing finishes at about 9:30.

Usually I love Fridays. This week, would anyone care if we just accidentally skipped to Saturday? And the check magically appeared in my wallet anyway?

In some sense, this total collapse of the technical automatic action(s) was good for me. I got out easy things to get try to find my legato, did long slow bows and watched my hand/wrist in the mirror to see what made the bow change clunky at the frog (I felt like one of my students for real), Went over and over teleman rhythms/bows. Played Bach Air on the G string since the problem was much more pronounced on the G string than any other due to more weight transfer and gravity....

*sigh* Then I got distracted and ended up putting together the wedding folders for the 7th. My sister is getting married and I'm doing the ceremony with a cellist friend. Sometimes Finale is a wonder and joy...sometimes, I would rather use composition paper and a pen. It is so easy to spend hours caught up on how to get one minor function to work correctly...or FIND it!

Well. I listened to Dvorak 7th Symphony 4th mvt. It made me feel big. So I think I'll go do something grand in response. Like the dishes??!!


4 replies | Archive link

Duck/Hit by Truck

September 24, 2006 11:48

Oh, nothing really interesting to write these days. My humour got stuck somewhere in last week and has yet to surface again. I'm just so tired..

One thing that has got me excited is that I am starting new music...and I am able to now pick out my own literature, which just thrills me. I've chosen Prokofiev Sonata for solo violin in DM, a Max Reger solo viola suite (no.3), and the Biber Passacaglia. I don't enjoy any recordings of this Biber piece, because they are so unbearably slow, dead, and consequently boring. But I aspire to do something with it that I would enjoy listening to myself.

I am filled with good intentions as good intentions surround me. My viola teacher is giving me a free lesson on Monday, with *gasp* hopefully more to follow. I'm so excited and relieved. The Walton is such a MESS. And I can't seem to advance certain sections to anything even close to passable.

I video recorded my practice yesterday and noticed many things. Some were gratifying, some were devestating (nothing in between, really), and all of it made me learn oodles about my playing. As an added bonus, I was a shaky nervous wreck when I recorded, so I got an accurate glimpse of what I must do when I am playing in a situation that makes me nervous.

Not only was my pinky flying around in the air, but other fingers were coming off the stick to wave their hello at times as well. The sad thing is that it was consistant....the fingers come off as the arm straightens, along with the hair tilting inward as the stroke neared the frog, and the hand kind of twists inward and wrist comes up. That is my stroke folks. I thought I had modified that last year. Don't get me wrong, there are very good things about that stroke, but I have been working to keep the bow higher in the hand. At the end of last year, (being May), I had my ringfinger securly on the bow, minimizing the tilt of hair, and broadening my sound without totally relying on the first finger.

Also frustrating...for my Bach. To get the lighter sound I like on the Allemande (Suite 3), instead of having lighter, more flexible finger motions, my wrist and fingers locked (ini the duck positon) and all movement came from my arm. GRRRR. How we have to continually re-train these bad habbits away. My duck finally got hit by the truck somewhere in the second half. Miraculously, the sound became less sticky. (dare I use the word static!!??)

Good things are that I'm not dovening as much, and I'm keeping my torso more still. And my left hand is in such good shape comparatively. My wrist no longer sticks out, and the death grip of the thumb seemed fixed (dare I say it???). It was just lollygagging around the neck of the viola.

K. Nap time, then today's practice.

p.s. The Duck/hit by truck analogy is compliments of Mrs. Laura Schumann from years years ago.

Archive link

What motivates us?

September 19, 2006 13:21

I'm flexing and de-flexing my poor arm muscles. I hate going grocery shopping, and wait until we are eating lentils and cream-less instant coffee before submitting to the grocery store. But today the cats were out of food as well, and we were down to using napkins for toilette paper...uh...(See how much I REALLY hate shopping?) So I collected my list and headed out at about 10 in the morning. I just got home (2:30 or so?) I spent way way too much money. *sigh. But the house smells pretty (fig and thyme candle)and we have so many food choices I don't know what to eat first! I am so proud...I carried all that stuff up three flights of stairs myself! Including the cat litter/food. I hope my muslces aren't smarting tomorrow. If so, I'll just pretend it was from practicing so darn much!

I was going to start a thread yesterday about what tricks people use to motivate themselves to practice when they are having a week where it is just such a hard task to force yourself to start. But yesterday proved to be a very effective practice day on its own...better than in some time. And today I am eager to get to it. The reason? I was discouraged in my viola sound. I had just put new strings on, which rendered my instrument nearly impossible to play and there didn't seem to be anything I could alter in my bow speed, pressure, articulation, angle, approach, remedy the situation. But then yesterday I just took off the C string and put my old Obligato C on, and ...voila....the viola worked again. I had no idea that one bum (really really bum) string could cause all the strings to work improperly. The new strings then sounded lush and I felt good about the sounds I made, and instantly wanted to try out ALL my rep on the new strings. Whew. What a day.

And in the evening I got a call to sub for a symphony that was random and unexpected. I can't do it because I've already got a gig that weekend, but to know that my name is floating around in unknown cirlcles and I'm being recommended, is another motivation to practice.

Some other, more simple ones are to consume large amounts of coffee and start off with sight reading. Or video record myself to watch right after and analyze. Anything that makes the idea of practicing fun, just to get me started. Sometimes I just need new music before getting into the hard work of priming what I'm really working on.

Anyway. Maybe I will still start a thread. I assume everyone has those weeks, months, years....(maybe just me) where it is almost depressing to think about playing, but once you start it is o.k. What motivates each and every one of us? Movies? Recordings? Friends? Guilt and pressure? Upcoming performances. It is during the down times (no concerts or recitals or performances or lessons coming up) that are the hardest to practice through. Maintenance, I know, but it is hard with no goal besides a need and requirement to keep it up daily.

Wow. Longwinded today, no wonder shopping took forever. I must have contemplated the meaning of everything on the shelves...

JEnnifer Warren

2 replies | Archive link

Inspiring Quote from book

September 17, 2006 11:25

I am deep into my book about the Kulturbund now, and have passed many beautiful phrases in the last few days in their pages. I would like to quote one here, as it applies universally, I think, to anyone who uses music and it's art/spirit to get through trials and tribulations in hard times. Personal ones, national ones, family ones, or just the hardship of keeping up the unspeakable harshness of a career steeped in comepteition, doubt, desire, extacy, goal, realization and disappointment....aha. For another post, for sure. The discussion of what it is to live the life of a performing artist. Then again, a visual artist might have it worse in a free country, as it is very difficult sometimes to feel that they are fulfilling a sense of duty and work, a guilt of timelessness, and...whoa...reinging it in, I'm reigning it in now. Sorry. K. The quote that has inspired me in a week which found me searching the point of my career, where it is, and the how/why.

...part of a speech by "the Kubu's theater director, Julius Bab, in praise of Dr. Singer's courage, first evoking the poet Goethe's description of courage as that quality without which a human being 'would be better off never having been born.'
'This is not the courage of tensed muscles and a clouded brain', Bab went on. 'It is the courage that stems from the deepest realms of human consciousness. Only he who appreciates every day deeply, both the joys and worries that each day offers, and is able to remove himself from them, who truly gives h imself fully to the most elevated aspects of life, only he can possess the courage to live a life which transcends the personal. You will continue to experience trials and hard work....Not despite the despair of the times, but precisely because of the neediness of these times, we want and need to cultivate all the beautiful arts and we want to sustain our spirits by staying in touch with the noblest and most sustaining of life's offerings. Dear Dr. Singer, we thank you.'-pg 119

(in a letter from Dr. Singer, later):

We have developed a platform for Jews regardless of class and world view. Next to teh temple of religion we have built the temple of the stage, the temple of music....We have within our little realm understood our times without letting ourselves be overwhelmed by them. And thus we enter, strident and happy, ambitious and modest, content and yet unsatisfied with our achievements, the sixth eyar of our existence."-pg.132

-Martin Goldsmith, "The Inextinguishable Symphony".

Anyway. I found that inspiring.
Having a wonderfully lazy Sunday morning with the cats, covers, and books in bed.

Archive link

The Inextinguishable Symphony

September 13, 2006 19:48

I meant to recommend a great book that I am reading. It is called "The Inextinguishable Symphony"-a true story of music and love in Nazi Germany. It is more than just a horror novel about the holocaust, it really does tell a poignant and truly beautiful story about music. The Kulturbund orchestras and their growth and fall. Anyway. It is written by Martin Goldsmith.

The Nashville Symphony just did their premier of the new Schermerhorn Symphony Center. I couldn't afford tickets (5 thousand a pop), but I watched the broadcast on television. One of the few times I have plugged in the cable (except for excessive viewings of MASH). I felt proud, excited, and relieved when I watched it. I hope they have openings for auditions in the near future. I feel like I know the Symphony, the players, the area. Hopefully my instrument, too! No openings right now, though. Leonard Slatkin has been instated as their musical director until they find someone permanant.

Jennfer Warren

p.s. This is my dad's composition mentioned minutes ago in the blog that just downloaded :).
Joy Thurmon is on Piano.

5 replies | Archive link

Oh no, am I a violist?

September 13, 2006 19:02

Actually, I am quite enjoying the challange of keeping both violin and viola in shape. The viola offers new struggles and so many things to learn in terms of how the instrument performs, changes, responds to string choices....etc. etc. I have a fairly sturdy viola, though it can be a bit thick at times :) Like me...He he. No, that comes as a relief sometimes since my violin feels quite fragile. A very fine instrument that I wouldn't trade in or regret anything of, it is just that I worry with it being so old and having such a high belly (almost touching the fingerboard with a wound that leaves the wood uneven, but not cracked through, glued many times). Anyhow.

I put on new strings today (hence the topic) and the viola became a mystery. It is not the same as the violin at all. I chose three Pirastro Aricore, and one Pirastro Tonica. Turns out I should have used the Tonica on the C string, not the G. I have been addicted to Obligatos for going on Three or four years now, and I felt an urge to stray from the Obligato Path.

Anyhow. I had a recital in June, which was a tribute recital to my father's life and music. I will put a known piece on here first, and one of his compositions another day. He wrote a beautiful Pastorale for violin and Piano, which I played on viola with piano. I also played Faure's violin/piano sonata, Bruch's Romanze, Handel-Halovorsen's duo for violin and viola, a counterpoint set also written by my father arranged by yours truly for violin and cello, and the rest of the Bach Suite no.2. Oh, and Hindemith's Duett for viola and cello. One of the only and best pieces for viola and Cello. Challenging! Hm. I'll get to that one soon, too. My best friends played with me on the recital.


I haven't purused the site in awhile, I think I will delve into all that I have missed. Every once in awhile it feels good to get immersed in violin issues. And then take a break :).

-Jennifer Warren

2 replies | Archive link

More entries: October 2006March 2006

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music: Check out our selection of Celtic music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Summer Music Programs Directory
Find a Summer Music Program Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

The Wallis Presents

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine