February 2006

Which hand has the problem?

February 22, 2006 13:59

Has anyone ever experienced this?

I'm working on the last page of the Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso, the Più allegro section. I can play it well at about a third of the proper speed (which is REALLY darn fast). If I try to increase the tempo, the stuff high up on the E string gets all out of tune. Left hand problem, right?

Because my teacher frequently recommends shifting on a slur for intonation (to better isolate the sound change), I tried playing the passage slurring six notes at a time. Voilà! No more intonation problems. But as soon as I bring back the separate bows, it goes back to sounding like crap.

So what's going on here? I suppose it could be something like distraction...I need a certain level of concentration to get my left hand fingers in the right place, and can't afford to divert any brainpower to bowing. But it's not as if it's a particularly difficult stroke; I don't think bowing decreases my concentration. (Then again, isn't that what drivers who talk on cell phones always claim, as they wander into the next lane and forget to signal?)

On another note, I've given up the first Sevcik Op. 9 exercise (octave scales with some stuff for the intermediate 2-3 fingers) for now. I can't do it without putting my hand in a weird position that seems to strain it a lot, and this morning I woke up with pain in my forearm, which scared me. I'll ask my teacher if I'm doing something wrong, but until then I'm not going to risk injuring myself.

2 replies | Archive link

I just wanna play, all the time...

February 17, 2006 13:41

Last year I watched the movie "Ice Princess", which was a halfway decent tween flick despite the irritatingly bogus physics. Anyway, there's one scene where a bunch of teenage figure skaters are discussing their sport, and one of them who clearly loves it asks, "Don't you just want to skate ALL the time?" Her friend gives her a strange look and answers, "Nooo..." I think the message is that this friend has been pushed into figure skating, whereas the first girl does it for herself.

Anyway, that question comes back to me a lot as I've returned to my violin studies. I do want to play all the time. At least I think I do; unfortunately, I get tired easily, and I'm not a person who deals well with physical discomfort so I usually stop as soon as I feel weary. That, plus the demands of a full-time job and two little children, means I don't practice anywhere close to the amount I'd like to. But I make progress every time I pick up my violin, and I remind myself that as with almost everything, quality matters more than quantity.

I'm making steady progress on the Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso. The last Più Allegro section is really starting to come together, even though all that fast stuff way up in 7th position or whatever (I lose count after 5th) seemed impossible when I started. And the Kreutzer is definitely helping my shifting, so I'm glad I brought up the subject of etudes with my teacher. I just started Ševčík Op. 9 double stop exercises, too. The 1-4 octaves with a low second finger are awful for someone whose hand is as small as mine. Ouch! My childhood violin teacher didn't teach me much, but one thing she said which I keep in mind was "No pain, no gain, but also too much pain, no gain." So I'm taking it slowly.

The small UU church I attend has four or five rotating pianists, of which I am one. John, who is undoubtedly the best of us all, only attends when he's the pianist. So even though I've played violin in church about six times in the last three years, he was totally unaware I was also a violinist until I happened to email to the group that I was taking a break from piano until April but would be happy to do violin/piano stuff in the meantime. This led to some email exchanges between us, and we're going to try playing the Mozart E Minor Sonata (K. 304). I'm excited about working with someone I respect so much as a musician, even though my husband warns me that the artist personality might not be the easiest to work with. ;)

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Startin' em young...

February 5, 2006 21:17

I don't want to be one of "those" parents who decide that their kid is going to be some kind of genius, and starts them on violin lessons and math classes and language immersion before they can walk. So it had never been my intention to start my older daughter, Kiera, on a musical instrument until she was a little older. But since I'd started playing seriously again, she'd become so interested in the violin, asking me all kinds of questions about how it worked. She even started walking around with a cordless phone tucked under her chin and bowing it with a chopstick. So we decided to start her on Suzuki lessons two months before her third birthday (which just passed), and it's going well. I think it's important to follow our children's leads; don't push them into something they don't like or can't handle, but neither should we discourage them from something in which they show true interest.

My younger daughter Kyla, who's only ten months old, likes to sit with me and Kiera when we practice rhythms. She claps, too; not in the correct rhythm, but not quite randomly either. I think she's actually trying to imitate us. And two nights ago, Kiera was chanting and clapping "Mississippi Hot Dog", when Kyla suddenly piped up, "HAH-DAH!"

I'm not going to start Kyla on anything until she shows independent signs of interest, either, but so far it's looking like I'll have the musical family I always wanted.

5 replies | Archive link

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