March 24, 2009 at 8:18 AM
My violin teacher says a lot of funny things, but today's comment was one of the best.
On the second movement of Tartini's classic: "I am impressed. You know this piece pretty well. But there is no devil in your playing. You are not playing the Devil's Trill, you are playing the Angel's Mordents."
As a child, I developed the poor habit of being an extremely timid player; my definition of "loud" was what most people would call mezzo-forte at best, and I never, ever used the lower 1/3 of my bow. I'm getting better at all that, but I'm still not anywhere near expressing the potential of my violin. I'm scared to break it! My teacher took my instrument and showed me what he wanted, but I held my breath the entire time, convinced it was going to shatter. But afterwards I tried to imitate him, and whaddya know...it didn't break. Maybe next time, I'll be able to conjure up a bit of the devil.
...I haven't been blogging or posting much, but good things are happening. My teacher wanted me to participate in a festival for the music teachers' association last February, because "it is rare for someone your age to make progress." (English isn't his first language :) ) I decided to do something less technically challenging and more musically challenging, so I worked up a couple of Piazzolla tangos which were SO FUN! I was nervous about the festival because I was one of the only adults there (and the others were barely adults, like 18 or 19 whereas I'm in my mid-thirties), and in fact the organizers thought my six-year-old daughter was the performer. I was glad to have her there, even if it was somewhat embarrassing when they announced my name and she yelled, "That's my mommy!" She's old enough to be a source of support now, and I really appreciated how, when I returned to my seat, she whispered, "That was great, Mommy! Was it fun or was it scary?" She has her first piano recital soon, and I think it does her good to see that adults get nervous too. Though I wasn't fully satisfied with my performance (are we ever?), I did receive the highest possible rating, as well as an award for "artistic and musical excellence" and a recent Anne-Sophie Mutter CD as a prize.
LOL! But it's nice to play like an angel too, isn't it?
I like the "someone your age" comment. He'd get a kick out of meeting the 92-year-old in my orchestra :)
Why couldn't you make some progress at 30??? What is really important is how much you can practice a day! A 30 that practices seriously can catch up so many average kids!!! For breaking the instrument, consider this: I saw world class performers hitting slightly the corner of their strads while bowing... even them can do slight mistakes! If Oistrakh's violins survived to him with his beautiful enrgetic playing, then it can survive to anyone! Nowadays, it is not rare to see some young male soloists (generally speaking), especially one that played way too aggressivly to even make music, doing a fight while trying to force out the sound too much (they actually buzz and produce less volume...)! However some strad owners still lend them violins... so they must not scrap the instruments that much :) Of course, it is always awful to notice slight scratches on you beloved instrument. Often you are not even sure how they got there! But once again, when I look to the famous strads that have been played by much better players than me, I notice they are really full of scratches! Way more than normal violins... This is the product of 200+ years of playing!
However, it is really great that you can play at this level. Can I exchange moms? No, seriously I would have loved so much to have musicians in my family! It's a great luck for a musician child! Non musicians just cannot undertsand their kids. They can give financial support but do not know how it "feel". How tough it is. Good luck!
It's good to hear from you again, Karin, and good to hear of your recent success. I was especially impressed with getting the highest possible rating and an award for "artistic and musical excellence." Congratulations! I hope to hear more from you soon.
Thanks for the nice words, Pauline. I always appreciate your kind comments on my blog entries. I'll try to improve their frequency.
Anne-Marie, I don't think my teacher meant that it was unusual for an adult to make progress, but rather that it was unusual for an adult to dedicate the time and money for the kind of serious study that leads to progress. Despite the fact that I'm currently unemployed, I'm keeping my lessons at a high priority. It's a great feeling to be certain that I'll come out of my lesson a better violinist than when I started. There aren't that many things in life that are so guaranteed.
Karen, 92 years old? Wow!
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