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Mendy Smith

Rubber Bands and Tape

January 31, 2008 at 5:45 AM

I guess the theory that rubber bands and tape can fix ANYTHING has made its way into the world of viola playing. When I was young, it was tape on my fingerboard, last summer my "substitute" teacher taped my fingers in an attempt to fix my bow hold. Tonight, my teacher brought out the rubber bands. "You can study vibrato and left hand work well enough on your own for now, we're going to fix the bow hold!" he said.

He runs downstairs. I'm thinking to myself, "Oh no! What now?!?!" He comes back upstairs with a little blue rubber band, takes my bow and proceeds to wrap it around the frog. I'm now thinking to myself that my bow isn't THAT bad that it needs to be held together with a rubber band. But no, it's to give a tactile reminder where my third finger SHOULD be. Then another surprise "I was thinking about you lately and have something I want you to play". My hopes were instantly dashed when the sheet music he was hiding was NOT Clarke's Sonata, but Kreutzer .... #3.... again!!!!! ::::groan:::::

I'm telling myself at this point "Mendy, suck it up. You got over the scales thing, you can get over the Kreutzer thing." So bowing lessons began. A good half of the lesson was spent on bowing . Then the D-flat minor scale (after getting over the shock of all the flats, it wasn't that difficult at all really). He asked me what shifting studies I was doing, so I showed him - from 2nd to 8th position - right on the money (or at least close enough). OK, enough of that!

On to Hummel! I FINALLY figured out what I was doing wrong with the turns - I was adding an extra note in the turns where I shouldn't be. I can take that home and practice them correctly now. Then moving along further into the piece to a run of 16th notes. My hand is small, so reaching a note with my 4th finger on my 16" viola is a bit of a challenge. I often try to shift my way out of having to use my 4th, but no, can't do that anymore.... We work on the passage, then I stop to watch his hand formation for a moment, wait a minute! That's not Hummel that I'm hearing! That's "Over the Rainbow"! Goof!

For the rest of the lesson while I was playing Hummel, this stupid little blue rubber band kept on reminding me that my hand was not in the right position. How irritating! He saved his electronic torture device from being tossed out the window, and invented a new form of torture. The new torture device is this little blue thing on my bow, and he KNOWS I won't be tossing my bow out the window any time soon. I surrender!!!!!

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