Spotted an article today about one of my adult students, a professor at Williams College. He's written a book about Iran and Iraq and apparently is quite an expert in the region's history. Once it's translated into English (he's iclandic), I'll have to pick up a copy. It's fun to spot familiar people doing interesting things, though, don't you think?
We're starting quartets again next week; the other violinist was a bit reticent, but I agree with the violist that his wife (the cellist who passed away two weeks ago) would want us to continue. Besides, it's so important for him to keep playing and to keep busy. Of course we all miss her, but she was a very generous person by nature and I'm sure she'd agree that we need to care for her husband now. It'll be a bit rough at first, I think, to have someone else playing cello, but the new cellist is very nice and I'm sure she'll fit in quite nicely.
Haven't had nearly enough time to practice this week -- that's the trouble with having a job, isn't it? But I'm so much less stressed since I started this job that it's really quite worth it.
Previously, I was consulting (computers) with my husband, and had started teaching violin and doing more playing. But the trouble with all that independent stuff, even though the hours are pretty good, is that you have to do everything: the marketing, the accounting, the production, the support, etc. And working at home just doesn't suit me -- I need a separate space, where my non-working life doesn't intrude. So I was just getting way too stressed. The level of stress I felt a couple of weeks ago, with a project deadline looming, taxes looming, and everything else, was just about what I'd always felt when working at home.
So, I guess I don't practice as much as I'd like, but it's not such a bad thing in the grander scheme of things.
I've barely had much chance to play my lovely new instrument -- my friend named it "le violon chocolat", which I've sort-of adopted, though the luthier told me it isn't french... but that's okay. I don't tend to name my instruments anyway, so it won't stick for long.
Now I have to deal with insurance. It's not a terribly expensive violin, and I have the impression that the insurance agents I'm dealing with don't have much experience in instrument insurance. I should ask some of the other local players.
Does anyone here have any knowledge about insuring instruments for professional use? The quote I was given is $153/year with a $250 deductible.
I've got a few small concerns about it; there's a crack in the neck which seems to have been there and mostly fixed some time ago. The luthier thought it was pretty solid, but you never know. He suggested trying to get some kind of warranty on it, for maybe a year. If it doesn't fall apart in a year, it probably won't, right? :)
The other concern is that my house is incredibly dry. All my instruments suffer for it, though I try to humidify the cases they only get up to about 40% humidity in the winter. Better in summer. So I figure I should try for a case with a built-in humidifier/hygrometer.
So, back to work so I can afford the violin! :)
I learned last night that Connie passed away on Tuesday afternoon. Her husband and daughter are taking her to Iowa, I think, where she wanted to be buried, so we won't see Otto until he returns.
I'm sure everyone around her is still in shock; sure, everybody dies sometime, but somehow you never expect anyone to die just now. I suppose that's a positive attitude, though, so let's keep it, shall we?
I've got deadlines at work coming fast, I've been doing my taxes all week, and I'm thoroughly exhausted, so please forgive my rambling.
I picked up Lilo and we went to gather with Otto, Connie's husband and our violist, last night, along with a couple of his closest friends. Though we didn't stay very long, I think we helped. Certainly Lilo, who lost her husband a few years ago, had a good deal of wisdom to offer.
I don't know if there's any hope; as of last night it looked like the end. At some point they'll probably have to make the decision to remove the machines (she has a living will). Her daughter lives close by as well, and was at the hospital with her last night.
So, out of curiousity, I put a set of Vision strings on it -- and lo and behold, it sounded exactly like the other violin I tried in the shop (which also had Vision strings). So, now I'm wondering if the reason I didn't like the other one was because of the strings, not the intrinsic properties of the instrument itself.
Luckily, my mom and dad are close and my mom is still very interested in my playing -- and so they're driving an hour to the shop and back to go borrow the other violin! (Thanks, Mom and Dad! You rock!) The owner was very gracious and even offered to put different strings on it so I could give it a fair try. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to buy one or the other (and it's not like she's got ten other people wanting to try these violins), so I don't feel like I'm taking too much advantage of her.
More updates as I try the two of them. :) No matter what, though, I've realized that I cannot go back to the violins I've been playing on for so long. Yesterday evening as I played on the Luthier's stage, Mom requested the "2nd Seitz" (I forget what number it is, but it's the 2nd in Suzuki book 4, which is her favorite) and she said that it was the best I'd ever played it. The dynamics came through, probably for the first time ever, simply because the violin really responds. It has tone even when soft, so I can actually do big dynamic changes without getting weak, scratchy pianissimos and crunched fortissimos.
If only I'd woken up 15 years ago! :)
This weekend I went to a violin shop to look at some smallish violins (a friend calls them "lady's size" -- not quite full size, but not 7/8ths, either). The shop had two that might qualify -- they're full-size bodies, for the most part, but the necks were still set in the original way, almost straight out and shorter, with a wedge to slant the fingerboard to the right angle.
Now, I've played on one of those before, and found the neck to be awkward for shifting -- too thick, because of that wedge. I also thought that the full size body would have too much wood on it.
Not so! The first one I picked up was comfortable, and what a sound! In a close space, it sounds like chocolate; in the large, gym-like hall that the symphony plays in, other folks at rehearsal told me it has an incredible clarity. One woman said, "It sounds like it's talking!"
As you can tell, I have it now on trial. I'm at work now, but all I want to do is go home and play it.
I'm making an appointment with my luthier to have him vet it out for me; and I need to show it to my friends at quartet practice on Wednesday, since the 1st violinist is the one who convinced me that I should be shopping in the first place! And if she doesn't approve... I hope she approves!
I'm a little concerned that I'm falling for the first thing I've seriously looked at. However, I've played other "good" violins before, and none of them have affected me like this one.
Heck, it even sounds good when my husband plays it, and he doesn't even play the violin!
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