April 2006

Lessons from a three-year-old

April 20, 2006 23:02

Once again, my violin practicing's fallen by the wayside as "real life" intrudes. I've been somewhat behind at work and sick with a bad cold for the last several days. Standing up for any length of time is an effort, and I hadn't touched my instrument in about four days. So I missed orchestra rehearsal yesterday, cancelled my violin lesson tomorrow, and resigned myself to making up ground when I'm better.

I seem to have given my cold to both my daughters, so Kiera, the three-year-old, hasn't practiced for a few days either. Not a big deal, since her teacher's on spring break this week. But this evening, despite having a mild fever, no appetite, and obviously feeling out of sorts, she said, "Mommy, I wanna practice violin!"

"Right NOW?"

And she did. The last few practice sessions earlier in the week hadn't gone well, so I was prepared for some struggles. Instead, she gave me beautiful posture, excellent concentration, and really seemed to be working hard.

I was stunned, thrilled, proud, then humbled. After her session was over, I took out my own instrument. I could only manage about five minutes of playing before exhaustion took over, but it's five minutes more than I would have done otherwise.

Usually, when I'm lacking motivation to practice, I turn to people like Joshua Bell. But tonight, it was my little girl who inspired me. She reminded me that if you love what you do, you can always give a little bit more...and heck, sometimes you can even give a LOT more.

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Help me pick some strings!

April 8, 2006 22:26

It's time for me to replace my strings, and I've decided I'm going to try something new. I've used Dominants forever--I don't even know why!--although my luthier did put a Gold E on my instrument last time. I like them fine, but I don't know what else is out there. It could very well be that Dominants are the best strings for me, but I'll never know unless I try something else.

So, I'm feeling similarly overwhelmed as I did when I began my bow shopping, although thankfully this time I'm dealing with smaller amounts of money and much less permanent changes. I've read most of the discussion threads that deal with strings, but they honestly don't make much sense to me because I've never tried gut or steel. It's like wine---if you've never had a drink, adjectives like "woody" or "fruity" don't really mean anything.

This is my idea: I'll buy 3-4 sets of strings and keep each on for a couple of months, which should be long enough to break them in. Since I'm going to be working on the same piece for a while and don't have any auditions or major performances coming up, it seems like a good time to do this experiment. Here's where I need help, though: which strings should I play with to get a good representation of the full range of sound? I was thinking of 1 gut, 1 steel, and 2 synthetic. Based on what seem to be the most popular names, here is what I thought I'd try:

Gut: Eudoxa or Olive
Steel: Jargar
Synthetic: Evah Pirazzi, Infeld Blue, Titanium Vision

Any comments? I'm going for a reasonably bright (but short of "brilliant") sound. Also, my instrument isn't super high quality, so anything that will give me power and volume is good. But at this stage I'm mostly interested in experiencing all the differences, so please let me know if I'd be better off trying other types first. I don't want this to turn into another "favorite string" discussion since there have already been so many good ones.


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