May 2005

May 25, 2005 00:24

Summer is ending. The first rainfall, warm and soothing, has fallen and quenched parched grass and sizzling concrete. The wind has cooled, the blossoms have bathed, familiar gray clouds are hovering over the sky. Friends.

My roof is leaking but I love the rainy season--when I can take out my umbrella and walk on puddled streets in rain boots; when, if I'm feeling a bit adventurous, I can march into the thick of it and get soaked to the skin; when my violin practice will hardly get noticed by the neighbors because the sound of falling rain on the rooves is louder.

If I knew how, I would probably compose a piece about the rain. And I would play it under a fire tree, with the wind blowing soft and cool all around me, and the red and yellow blossoms descending slowly to the ground like the last of summer snow.

If only I could play as beautifully as the flowers... or even the rain.

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May 19, 2005 01:48

They changed the seating positions in our church band area. It was previously arranged with the baby grand piano infront, the ancient organ on its right side, and the two keyboards for strings and wind behind it. The flute, saxophone, clarinet and violins are sandwiched between the keyboards and the piano, while the percussions are just a bit to our left. With the percussions, keyboards, organ and baby grand, it would be a miracle if anyone in the congregation could hear the violins.

The new arrangement now has the baby grand at the back and beside the percussions. The violins are at its right, at the end of which line is the organ. Infront of the violins are the wind instruments, and infront of them are the two keyboards. The choir is at the back of the violin section, and the microphones are sandwiched between the choir and the violins.

I wonder if this arrangement will be better. Personally, I'm glad we're at the back because now it won't be such a tight fit. In the previous set-up I could hardly move and my bow usually gets tangled into the music stand of the wind keyboard. It was also not unusual for us to trip on our violin cases or knock our music stands down.

Pretty soon we'll have a cello playing in the string section. Just one cello in that sea of sometimes boisterous sound. I wonder if that cello will manage to be heard, if it will hesitate and be discouraged, or if it will be given the chance to reverberate its rich texture across 2,000 sqm of space, into the hearts of the faithful.

I hope we'll have our orchestra someday. I really don't like electronic sound.

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May 16, 2005 01:20

I think I'm improving.

Yesterday while I was playing in church (twice, morning and late afternoon), I realized that my bow wasn't sliding as often, that I was playing most notes accurately, and that I wasn't as afraid to make mistakes (which caused me to make less). Someone from this site told me not to hesitate, because it would really sound bad. And so I don't hesitate, playing each note with gusto, believing that I'm hitting it right. And, most of the time, I am. Funny, what confidence can do.

I know I still have a long way to go. I can't read notes that fast and have to mark my sheets in order to keep up with the band. I also have to learn to just flow, playing without music sheets--which a church band does a lot. But I feel I'll get there.

This website and the violinists in it have really helped me. Just to read about what other people are going through, how they're solving their problems with playing, teaching, or practicing helps me answer some of my own questions.

Someone even told me that she's taught herself for many years and is now playing in an orchestra. That's quite an inspiration. If she can do it, then maybe so can I.

Really, I'm very thankful that is here and that you're all here, writing of your experiences, answering questions, offering to help in any way you can. Thanks a lot :)


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May 3, 2005 20:15

Last Friday we went to a nearby bar after rehearsals, and some of us jammed with the band. Of course I had to just sit back and watch, not feeling confident enough to jam anything. The violinist performing was quite amazing, so I passed a note to him after the set and asked where he learned to play violin and what violin he was playing. He came to our table and I was able to chat with him for a while. What he said shook me a bit.

He only started learning the violin a year ago. He took four formal lessons, and the rest he learned from surfing the net for information, watching videos of performances, and listening to CDs. He learned vibrato on his own--and he's got a pretty strong vibrato. He said that he doesn't read notes very well, and plays mostly by ear. He plays scales, picking up the key from the rest of his band. What bothers me is: how can he play so well after just a year of practically learning things on his own?

Is there something wrong with me? Why am I not progressing as fast? Do I lack the determination or the passion? He said he could count the days when he wasn't able to practice, and it wouldn't be more than 10 days for that past year that he was learning. Don't I practice enough? Or is he really just more talented? More gifted? That it doesn't take much to get him rolling forward.

I wonder sometimes if some people are born to play the violin, and the rest are just trying hard to. I remember the Amadeus movie: the notes just seemed to flow from Amadeus effortlessly, like he wasn't even thinking about it.

I'm wondering if I should ask this guy to teach me vibrato. Or if I can try learning it on my own.

I'm wondering if I'm gifted enough, or at all. And if not, if I should press on toward the goal anyway.

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