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jennifer steinfeldt  warren

Rambling for a bit on the daily regime

August 7, 2007 at 10:43 PM

The blogs of the day (or the page or so that I just read) have been food for the soul today. It is strange how we (us, me, you, perhaps?) get so focused on what we must do...what must be accomplished....our day is a thumbs up or thumbs down as to whether we got enough good practice in or work done, or have had a disciplined few days.
I hate that. But sometimes the momentum of the life, and the spirits inside us that crave this life, get a little bit spazed.

I've been substituting for a friend, going into week two now, and it has been amazing. Since I don't know the students (there are 21 of them) I had to make a lot of notes and keep good track of each name, instrument, where they are, who they are, what they like, what we worked on, what I need to bring for next week....even, I have to admit, to remember a face with a name to the sheet I'd made on them. I've never been good with names.

But I have discovered, or re-discovered the benefits of teaching private lessons. THere are so many of them. Today, I was thinking about how much time and effort I had spent looking through my shelves of music for pieces or etudes or scales or duets or learning materials of any sort for each child (the teacher I"m subbing for has most of them using either Suzuki books or Essential Elements, which is fine, and that is what the store where she teaches sells, but there is SO MUCH more to do with all these kids). I've got a fire in me, really. And writing up lesson notes and making folders and...well, I've gone all out on this one. REally.

So I was thinking...or comparing my practicing to the way I was organizing the student's lessons and my effort to help a new teacher without stepping on toes (it is remarkable what she has done with these kids and adults) but widening the arena a bit...and then my own practice and musical day.

I thought about how many different books I'm working out of at the same time. As well as doing recordign and analyzing as well as well as doing performances and gigs and jobs....and wondered, am I really learning more or am I spread like fake butter over really good bread....clumpy in some spots and bare in others?

I don't think so. Yesterday I didn't feel like practicing at all, but I picked up the violin and started working on one of the pieces I'm really trying to play up to professional standards this time...the Bach Chaconne....and that was all I did. I took breaks and I spent a lot of time on each measure and I worked hard. But that was all I got to. All I was interested in.

And today I want to do mostly technical work. And that is fine.

I used to put my practiceing onto schedules and spreadsheets and tack them on the wall and alot time etc. etc. People talk about it all the time on this site....everything that needs to be practiced every day.

But I've changed my mind, because I've known myself as a working, practicing, growing musician out of school long enough now to know that there are spurts and sighs and olympic days. It all gets addressed and worked through and I am happy with the way things have gone.

Um...that had a point. A good point, too. And now I forgot what it was going to be. GRRR!!!!
Maybe that the music plans my practice, or that I pick up my love and the tool of my failures as well....and then know what that day needs in order for this violinist/violist to continue to be able to call herself that.

Maybe something along those lines. Taking two instruments just as seriously has really made me focus on not how I allot practice time, but why, and how it is meaningful, and what works best.

Oh yea!!! And teaching makes me a better practicer and player because it brings back to light concepts and issues that haven't been through my brain in a LONG TIME!!!!

Now I'm back to playing Dvorak Romance with the recordings. Oh, bad me. I know that isn't such a good idea, but I'm going to be playing it with an orchestra and need to know how to listen to what and where and then entrances, and matching parts. I can score study all that, but doing it is really the only way for me. My poor neighbors and husband, though...I have to turn the volume up mega loud to hear the orchestra over not only my violin in my ear but the other soloist and our non-matchiing intonation and not being together.
How can one anticipate Perlman or Gil Shaham or Sarah Chang? It must sound horrible!!! But I was having SO MUCH FUN. and running from the score to the table to the computer music player....

Hm. That was a lot of good, solid, pointless rambling.

Jennifer Warren

From Ruth Kuefler
Posted on August 8, 2007 at 2:04 AM
Well, I like your "good, solid, pointless rambling" . . . although it's really not pointless you know! I like the idea of not being too rigid during the daily practice regime. Like you said, it leaves room for day to day ebbs in interest, focus, and new ideas. And you're right about teaching - it can make you recall things about your own playing that you've taken for granted or not thought about for a while. Here's to more pointless rambling! :)
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on August 8, 2007 at 4:21 AM
I don't think that was pointless rambling. I teach the way you do, looking through all sorts of books and online references to individualize my teaching for each student. I don't get paid for this, but I enjoy it and I think it's the right thing to do. My practicing is like yours: I have goals and interests, but I don't stick to a regular schedule. I found your blog very interesting and helpful.
From Albert Justice
Posted on August 8, 2007 at 4:58 AM
Your rambling actually pretty much reflected my experience, and perspective.

One of the worst things about taking an instrument seriously as an adult, is not understanding that clumpy peanut butter reality. I have to constantly think about what it meant as a youngster learning other instruments compared to now.

Fortunately for me, I can easily have my 20 element list handy and anything I work on is ok. And during the winter I often touch on them all, but during summer I have to regroup because I'm only one person, and the gardens call.

'This' rambling suggests not only do we have peaks and valleys, but also that the valleys are most useful for healing, maturing and other personalized things.

I've heard of older people who use to open the bible and let God point their finger to where they would read that day, or the verse of the day. Some days my violin experience has felt this way, but thankfully not many.

So this self-direction your rambled on nicely, is very important for all musicians to understand including myself. You should ramble some more.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on August 8, 2007 at 5:53 PM
Not pointless at all. I'm so relieved that professionals can feel like that too!
From jennifer steinfeldt warren
Posted on August 10, 2007 at 7:22 PM
Thanks, guys! I've not had time to get back on here and check for comments and quite honestly, I forgot I wrote it. Reading back through it was this weird Twilight Zone moment where I didn't recognize or anticipate direction when reading and it was like reading something someone else wrote and realizing it actually means something. A lot of times when I write, it just comes out and I dont' think about it much and it is in the reading-back-over that I realize what I was actually talking about.

Anyhow. Thanks for letting me know that my ramblings have points sticking out of them in various directions (careful not to get poked....they may draw blood).

-Jennifer

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