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Karin Lin

Finding the time to practice

June 19, 2006 at 6:28 AM

Before I lose the opportunity...HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to all the dads out there!

Last week I came close to giving it up. Not because I don't love the violin, but because it seems so difficult sometimes to justify the time, energy, and expense. I'm not young enough or talented enough that the world will be worse off without me as a violinist. And with a full-time job and two young children, practice time is too often relegated to the late evenings when the kids are asleep and I lack both the physical and mental energy to play, after which it seems ridiculous to spend as much money as I do on weekly lessons. Add to that the frustration I'm having with this up-bow staccato technique, and the general depression brought about by the conclusion of my jury duty (seven weeks!), and yeah, I seriously thought about packing it in.

Lucky for me, as is often the case when I start to lose perspective, my husband came to the rescue. I should just practice while the girls are awake, he said.

"I can't," I replied, "they'll scream."
"Well, they'll just have to learn to deal with it."
"But I can't concentrate if they're screaming!"

So we came up with a solution; he'll take over the girls' bathtime, which should really be a daily thing anyway, giving me a full 20 minutes every evening to practice. It's not much compared to what many others put it, but it's enough for me to feel fulfilled, make progress, and justify my lessons. We've done it two out of the three days since then, and it remains to be seen how it'll work out. But after reading some of the stories from other amateur adult violinists who describe less-than-supportive partners, I feel extremely blessed. And I finally get that while I may not make a difference to the world with my violin playing, I will make a difference with my other talents if I'm a happy, well-adjusted person, and playing the violin helps me stay that way. So it's justified, after all.

My daughter's violin practicing habits are improving too. We've gone to doing less talking and more imitating, which, after all, is one of the major principles behind Suzuki. Now it's "Follow the Leader"; I'll play a particular note with a particular bowing, and sit on it until she copies me. She loves to improvise her own pieces (which for some unexplainable reason are always named "Winter, Winter"), and while I'd previously discouraged this as a waste of time, now I'm looking at it a different way. It gives me the chance to examine her playing in its entirety, instead of focusing on the details of technique as I tend to do. And it's gratifying to see her "compositions" evolve in complexity as she learns how to do more things. Because I personally am a very structured learner, it's been difficult for me to understand that my daughter isn't, and to adapt accordingly. But I'm getting there. As I thought so many times as a child...parents are slow sometimes. :)

Now I'd be a happy camper if I could just get the hang of these long up-bow staccato runs. If you have any suggestions, please comment or contribute to the discussion thread!

From Eileen Geriak
Posted on June 20, 2006 at 1:05 AM
You are certainly blessed Karen ! It must be wonderful to have a partner who supports your interests. Mine at least doesn't try to get in the way, but it would be nice if he didn't make a face at me whenever I try to practice when he's around... :-(
Enjoy your playing Karen...give your hubby a big fat kiss and do something special for him. He deserves it !
Happy belated Father's Day Karen's hubby...You RULE ! :-D
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on June 20, 2006 at 7:16 AM
I'm glad that your husband is so actively supportive. I'm glad that you're enjoying teaching your daughter. Most of all, I'm glad that you're still playing and enjoying it.
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on June 20, 2006 at 7:18 AM
I love that photo of your daughter.
From Patty Rutins
Posted on June 20, 2006 at 1:51 PM
One word: Sevcik.

If you can actually stick to Sevcik (vol. 2, I think, starts out with the long up and down bow staccato) you'll be an expert at it in no time.

Good luck!

From Karin Lin
Posted on June 20, 2006 at 6:26 PM
Thanks, Eileen and Pauline (hey, that rhymes!). I'm definitely blessed in many ways. Pauline, are you referring to the photo on my profile page? That's not my daughter, that's ME! Taken in 1978, when I was 4. :)

Patty, I don't have Sevcik Vol. 2, but maybe I'll ask my teacher about it at my next lesson. The problem isn't lack of exercises, though---I've got Kreutzer No. 4 and I can always make up my own---but rather lack of technique. If you've got any suggestions, please respond to the discussion thread!

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