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Karin Lin

July 25, 2005 at 5:49 AM

Well, that was fun. After weeks of working on nothing but artificial harmonics and spiccato, my teacher said, "Let's do some schmaltz, just for a change." So I played the first part of Csardas for her, which I haven't done in a long time. We talked about vibrato and shifting and playing around with tempo. I realized that I'm kind of self-conscious about being too expressive. When I'm practicing alone it's okay, but I feel silly swaying and waving my instrument around.

This leads me to wonder how much of violin playing is or ought to be visual. When I go to a concert, it's primarily for the visual experience, whereas my husband frequently closes his eyes; for him it's mostly an enhanced auditory experience. And while excessive movement can be distracting (like in the case of Joshua Bell, even though I love him), in gypsy works and such I feel like the grand movements are a big part of the performance. What does everyone else think about this?

My lesson was last Wednesday, but tonight was the first time I've practiced since then. Not for lack of wanting to, but other things took precedence, like work and practicing piano for the church service I was playing in this morning. The latter was a waste, though; I still performed badly, partly due to insufficient practice and partly due to my husband (and page-turner) arriving late with our two-year-old, who insisted on sitting in Mommy's lap on the piano bench when I wasn't playing, then spit water out all over the floor and shrieked while she was removed from the sanctuary. Ah, motherhood. :)

I'm slowly building up my practice time. It was hard just to do half an hour when I started violin again a few months ago, but tonight I went for 45 minutes without too much difficulty. Yes, I'm aware of all you young ones out there who are logging 4+ hours a day, but progress is progress and accomplishments are relative. While I have lost---wasted---many years, I also know that I'm playing violin now for all the right reasons. Every moment I can spend with my instrument is a gift to myself. Being a violinist is no longer a burden, but a privilege.

From Carley Anderson
Posted on July 25, 2005 at 11:18 AM
I felt the same way...self conscious about being expressive. My teacher brought it out in me when I auditioned last week. Nice to know other people feel the same way...(about practicing, too.)
From sara a m
Posted on August 13, 2005 at 6:06 PM
Sounds like you're trying your best on the violin. 45 minutes is pretty good, considering the mind only stays focused for that amount of time. And that's a whole lot more than I practice, 10 minutes a day if I'm lucky. And I'm not even busy. I get way nervous too, like having panic attacks at lessons. They get so bad I either end up passing out or getting sick (badly). Just try to play in front of more people, more often. I think you're doing great.

Anyway, good luck and I hope you stick with it!

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on August 14, 2005 at 3:10 AM
I think it's silly when people here criticize players for how much they move. Sometimes it might look excessive to me, but in a good player it's a part of the playing, whatever is going on inside of them. If you feel embarased by it, perhaps it doesn't have a real connection to your playing. Maybe you're dancing while you play. As for emotion in music there's been some good threads here on that. My personal conviction is that it's something that really happens by itself in a musical person once technical problems are out of the way.

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