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jennifer steinfeldt  warren

Marvel of the Week

February 1, 2007 at 5:39 AM

Today was a scratch and pout day. Ever have those days where you can't seem to slow down well enough to practice for real? And everything sounds scratcy no matter how harder you try.

That has been my marvel of the week. That the harder one tries on violin, (but for some reason, especially the viola) the worse the outcome. The relaxation so needed for sounding well and beautiful is sacrificed in an ever spinning out of control effort to get to that beauty and relaxation.

It just can't be done if you are set in high gear. So how do you slow down? The time today that it took to slow down was, well, a never-ending process. So after several put-down-pick-up-later-tries, I had an hour or so of totally frustrating practice. It probably didn't start out all that bad, but how the push and shove of perfectionism can ruin a practice.

It really just amplifies the point that mental ease and wellbeing is crucial to a productive and successful life as a string player. I have seen several players who I knew when they were young and free of nerves or pressures. And then, later, as they emerge from a violin performance degree, a much more stressed out player. Not just one or two people, this seems to be a trend.

What are we doing to our students in college? Or what do students do to their playing? Is it personal life at that age that is so up in the air and unsure? Or do we put so much pressure on those who seek professionalism in the arts, here, violin/viola...that the joy and draw of it is smooshed by tense accomapnying life? Exams, juries, recitals, masterclasses, lessons, auditions....

Hm. Not that any of that applies to me at the moment. It is other stuff in life, the regular person responsibilities...(like shelter and food) that are stressing my playing.

It is comforting to know, though, from enough experience, that tomorrow is a new day and a good night's rest will probably cure the problem.

And my lesson tomorrow will be so much fun!!!

On another note, we were approved for the house (rental). That means I can start advertising and taking in students that have already asked for lessons. Finally, somewhere I can live and teach from. I'm excited about that! We move in two weeks.

Jennifer Warren

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on February 1, 2007 at 2:11 PM
"Mental ease and wellbeing"! I want some of those, too.
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on February 1, 2007 at 4:15 PM
Congratulations on the house! And since you're now taking students, I just wanted to let you know that you're already teaching at a distance. Last night I played the 1st Bach cello suite along with you (your recording on your blog). I was feeling antsy with the tempo and playing along with you was a very grounding and settling experience.
From jennifer steinfeldt warren
Posted on February 1, 2007 at 10:21 PM
Wow, Karen! That made my day. Really.
I'd love to hear you play. I never imagined someone playing along with any of my recordings. After a day struggling with viola confidence issues, that was music to my ears.

Too bad we don't live in the same state or area. I'd love to play duets or something with you. Viola duets...maybe I should write some. Project for the year...


From Stephen Brivati
Posted on February 1, 2007 at 10:48 PM
yes. you are living now!!!
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on February 2, 2007 at 12:53 PM
Jennifer-- It would be great to meet someday. Although I have to admit, the thought of having anyone on hear me play gives me the willies at the moment. I've been mentally using the "gee, I'd love to post some audio but I don't have any suitable recording equipment" excuse quite liberally (to myself at least).

I make a little movie of myself about once a week with the movie feature on my digital camera and watch that and analyze it as a kind of "lesson" that I give myself in the absence of having a teacher. The sound quality is quite bad, but it suffices for intonation, bow position, vibrato usage, and things like that. And after I'm done taking that apart I really don't want anyone else to see it!

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