There's a nice little park behind the building where I work, and it's a popular place for me and my colleagues to take walks after lunch. For a long time I'd wanted to go there and practice during lunch but never quite had the guts---if I were planning to play only things I knew well, that would be one thing, but my goal was to practice. But I'm switching jobs soon (Monday is my last day), so I figure it doesn't matter what my soon-to-be ex-coworkers think of me. It was time to go for it.
On Wednesday I set myself up at a picnic table near the edge of the park, and discovered I had an audience: a letter carrier parked on the street eating his lunch. He assured me he'd enjoy listening to me, but I felt bad about making him listen to Kreutzer etudes. :) So I played through a bit of unaccompanied Bach and the Rachmaninoff Vocalise before my fingers got too cold in the windy weather and I got tired of rescuing my sheet music.
Today the weather was gorgeous, the kind of climate that makes a girl remember why she pays California real estate prices. This time I found a spot that was a little more secluded, where I really felt comfortable practicing, and got through quite a bit of my repertoire for today's lesson before I had to pack up and go to a meeting. As I headed back to work, a guy who'd been sitting at a nearby table called out, "Hey, that was cool, man!" He wasn't your stereotypical violin music lover---buff, shirtless, longhaired---and I didn't even realize he could hear me because he'd had headphones on when I passed him the first time. He asked me how long I'd been playing, etc., and said he'd really enjoyed it.
Now my fears about practicing in public are somewhat allayed, so it's a shame I'll be leaving this park. I know what one of my first missions will be when I move to my new company: find a lunchtime practice spot!
I'm pleased to introduce Version 3.0 of Karin Lin, Violinist.
Version 1.0 was in production 1978-1991. Due to limited budget and knowledge and inexperienced teachers, development proceeded slowly but steadily. There were many known bugs and many more unknown bugs; quality was poor and frustration was high. In 1991, the product entered maintenance mode for approximately 14 years.
Version 2.0 emerged in the spring of 2005, after a particularly inspiring performance of Joshua Bell playing the Tchaikovsky violin concerto prompted some reexamination and renewed interest. A new teacher was found and many bugs were quickly fixed, particularly related to intonation. A minor hardware upgrade in the form of a new bow proved useful. However, repertoire mastery was slow and directionless. After two years, it was clear that another major overhaul was necessary.
And now I present to you: Version 3.0!! Launched in the spring of 2007, with hardware and software upgrades!
The new violin is a Claudio Rampini "Toscano", which Clare Chu blogged about at length a couple of months ago. It's a beautiful instrument in both appearance and sound. While many violinists say they prefer a darker tone, I always say that if I wanted dark, I'd become a viola player. :) I like bright and brilliant, and this violin is all that and more. And the best part is that I got this wonderful instrument through Clare's contacts, thus freeing me from the hassles and headaches of visiting violin shops. It really is true that having a good instrument helps one progress more quickly; that's partly due to the satisfaction one gets from a violin that responds the way you want it to, but also because it's so pretty, sometimes I want to take it out to practice just so I have an excuse to look at it!
I also have a new teacher---Clare's teacher---whom, after observing one of her lessons, I became convinced could give me the kind of direction I wanted. He's much stricter than my former teacher, and I'd have been way too intimidated if I'd started with him when picking up the violin again two years ago; a teacher who stops me after three notes saying, "No, no, no! What is this!" would have made me cry :) but right now he's exactly what I want and need. He has me working on a LOT more repertoire and variety at a time than my former teacher, which makes my practicing much more interesting and effective. I'm currently working on a couple of Kreutzer etudes, the Bach Partita #1, Rachmaninoff's Vocalise, Schubert's "The Bee", and the Dvorak Violin Concerto, all of which I'm enjoying tremendously. And I'm really looking forward to playing in his studio recital in May, which will be the first time in almost 20 years I've performed solo for any audience other than my church (which is like family, so it almost doesn't count).
And to give credit where credit is due...I owe all of these wonderful developments to my friendship with Clare, whom I never would have met if not for Violinist.com. So thank you, Clare, and once again, thank you Laurie and Robert for this wonderful site which brings us all together!
I have some very interesting things going on in my violin life, but at the moment I'm too busy to post about them because I'm trying to get Kreutzer No. 7 memorized for my lesson on Friday. (...almost to the whole note...just a couple more measures....) This entry is just to let anyone who wonders---or cares :)---that I'm still alive and still playing!
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