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Mendy Smith

First full day on my new 'job'

January 31, 2009 at 3:14 AM

Today was my first full day on my new "job" - preparing for the scholarship audition.  It is one of two "jobs" I have at the moment, (the other one is finding a new job).

I started the day with my 3-octave minor scales, starting with my problem shift - from the 2nd finger to 4th down half a step.  For some reason I kept trying to shift down to a whole step, ending up in a completely different key that was driving me nuts.  After working that bit out, I started out on C minor.  I then proceeded to work my way up the fingerboard until I reached F-minor - the highest I've worked my way up to so far.  Most of today's focus was on really memorizing the finger pattern and which strings to shift on for the various minor scales so that I could repeat them again without looking at my "cheat sheet".

Then onto my etudes.  The first one is for crescendo and diminuendo - all about bow speed and distribution.  It was more difficult than I first anticipated - the notes themselves are easy enough, but the dynamic changes are challenging.  The second one is also about bow control and distribution.  But how to do mezzo piano with a full bow and martele???  And then my 3rd etude assignment, one meant to develop the bow (see a theme here???) at the tip.  This was actually the easiest for me of the three.

So with half of my day already spent on just scales & etudes, I took a lunch break and worked on my other job for awhile (job hunting).  Then back to practice.  I transcribed all my markings to the piano score, and then spent the next hour working the accelerando my teacher spent so much time with me on yesterday.  I noticed that this same theme occurs three other times in the piece.  I made that theme into a 4th etude by playing all of its variations.  The trick to pull this off is in the bow distribution - getting to the frog at the transition and then shorter and shorter bows working more towards the middle of the bow until the end.  If I hadn't spent somewhere in the range of 3 hours doing just those parts, I don't think I would have internalized the concept.

By now, it had started to become dark outside, so I played through the entire piece a few times, keeping focus on the tempo changes and my bow distribution.  Better, but those transitions still need a bit more work.  That will be for tomorrow. 

I now have my doubled-up lesson schedule from Joel, and he is giving me some "comp" tickets for the symphony this weekend.  What a guy!!!  I would not have expected that my first few days of being laid off would be spent in lessons, practicing, and going to the symphony!!!

There was a discussion here once before about the benefits of music in our lives.  Well, I'm living proof that music has great personal value to one's mental health in challenging times.  I'm actually having fun at the moment.  And incidently, my 1st finger on the G string vibrato has finally developed!  Woot!

From Bart Meijer
Posted on January 31, 2009 at 8:38 AM

Lemonade, Mendy! Keep it up.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on January 31, 2009 at 12:01 PM

"I'm living proof that music has great personal value to one's mental health in challenging times." 

And how.  I realized on another discussion thread that the two times I started playing again after breaks corresponded to challenging times, once after I broke an engagement and once when I changed jobs.  There's a lot there--the discipline, the ability to "lose" oneself in the music, reconnecting with parts of oneself that may have been lost or neglected.  

Sending positive thoughts your way!

From Tess Z
Posted on February 1, 2009 at 1:43 AM

Mendy, aside from the job're living a lifestyle most of us envy. 

Stay focused and relaxed.  Might be a good time to look into an Alexander class or yoga?   : )

From Drew Lecher
Posted on February 1, 2009 at 6:51 AM

Mendy—sounds like you are doing just fine and special congrats on the vib.

From Mendy Smith
Posted on February 1, 2009 at 10:14 AM

Thank you all for the support and "good vibes".  For now my spirits are up and I'm enjoying this opportunity to explore what I love in a way I haven't been able to since I was significantly younger.  However that being said, there is still this nagging worry about being able to establish myself in a new career before my nest egg runs dry, which it will in a finitie period of time. I do have a reprieve financially at the moment, but that won't last for long.  Every day spent unemployed dwindles what financial reserves I have, and a significant portion will be invested in my re-education towards a different field of work, with no help from state/government programs unless I go into debt with financial aide or manage to win a few scholarships and grants. Doubling up on lessons is an investment in order to fund my schooling.  I am going to need it.

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