August 2009

It's just like a viola, but smaller

August 25, 2009 18:48

Smaller by around 3 inches.  Yes, this life-time violist broke down and bought a violin.  It was a very interesting experience playing a violin for the first time in my life at the shop.  At first I was almost afraid that I'd break it as tiny as it is.  Then I was amazed that I could reach well over an octave.  Dare I even mention how incredibly easy it is to shift to the end of the fingerboard with no strain.  The down-side has been playing sharp, reading treble clef with an eing, too many ledger lines, and loss of the richness of tone on the Ging like I get on the viola.

Just to make the record clear, I am NOT switching to violin as a primary instrument.  I just can not give up viola after playing it for so many years.  Rather this is to augment the church "string section" to make a proper quartet (we have 1 violinist, 2 violists and a cellist), and to broaden my horizons musically with new chamber works.

Still can't quite believe that I'm really doing this.  Well, the journey has just become even more interesting than before.

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Summer of '09

August 10, 2009 22:39

Most summers for me are a time to relax and spend time on solo works, etudes and technical exercises.  Not this summer.  I had thought that moving across country would have given me ample time during the summer months to work on these things, but that did not happen.  Instead, when orchestra season came to a close, I made a new viola friend and became involved (via him) in what seems to be every single musical activity available for an amature violist in the greater Houston Metro Area.  

This has included so far playing in two pit orchestras, subbing for another community orchestra north of here, performing an entire Sonata at the church, preparing two more pieces for the church, and weekend "classical music jams".  Tomorrow I fly out for the long anticipated Interlochen Adult Chamber Music Camp.  After the camp, orchestra season starts once again.

Though my private practice time has dimished to nothing, I have grown in many ways musically over the past few months.  Playing in a pit was an experience in and of itself.  Subbing with only two rehearsals was a test of my sight reading ability.  Performing the Handel was a lesson in balance, musicality and overcoming stage fright in a profound way.  Preparing for performing Bach Brandenburg #6 and Bridge's Lament is shaping up to be a larger challenge than the Bloch audition.  What I thought I knew about music and performance seems so one-dimensional now - the equivelent of going from B&W to High-Def.  

As gratifying as this all has been, there have been moments of pure frustration that I've had to deal with - frustration with my body not being as flexible as it once was, short term memory and concentration issues, and a lack of music theory that would have enable me to understand what I'm playing better and communicate with those who I'm playing with more effectively.  

However at the end of the day, it is all about being able to pick up the viola and play something that touches a heart or two of those who happen to be listening.  In that, I succeeded.  And to top things off, I made a new best friend.  How much better can that be!

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