October 2007

My Birthday Blog

October 31, 2007 23:07

Yep-I'm a birthday boy! So, I played about 4 hours, after a few days of just maintaining. God, I hate those funks. But managing old age joints, and progress takes the valleys as well.

Nonetheless, I figured I'd blog on the eventful day of my birth. Much happened in history, both glorious and shameful. And another Scorpion musician was added to the fabric of life.

So I've been on this articulation sabbatical--can't take any more new concepts! At least for awhile. And also I'm hitting sounding points(sp), both in their lanes and with regards to bow speed per Buri. This is another layer of the fabric of my violin life.

Things are going good. Slow, but good. My last couple hours were playing from memory, and I was kicking parts of the Bach Gavotte's butt. And for whatever reason I added "Laura's Theme" from Dr. Chivago a couple weeks ago, and ooh lah lah. So, in a few more months.... (It generally takes me that long to get a good basic competent freedom currently--at least on music that will always be with me.) I also pulled the first melody of the final Bouree, from memory with a third good effort.

I thought I need to make a list of all those standards (there are about 30 I s'pose) for my practice wall. I am the Vieuxtemps of standards! ;). Then the next level of general songs would be exhaustive. Makes me tired to think about it. From Bach to ZZ Top to Rachmaninov.

Anyhoo, I watched "I Love New York" and "Beverly Hillbilly" and "The Munster" reruns today, talked to my ex, re-grouted some tile, and played for four hours because I'm the 'Birthday Boy'. Let the party begin.

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My November

October 23, 2007 22:07

Tonight I started Jeewon's exercises for finger lifting and felt what he was talking about--again actually. I also re-read Drew's notes from his blog. I also noted to pull out Ron Mutchnik's hand shaping notes. Finally, I read Buri's notes on sounding point exercises. All these will be my intense focus during November.

Generally I had a light night though, focusing mainly on Suzuki beyond the above. One discovery I made beyond comments made over in discussion, was that in pulling that tuck in to get over to trill on D, that one must also adjust to ensure that tension in the forearm does not occur.

But, the articulation and sounding points, deserve a festival type attention for awhile. I feel this is a good investment, as long as I keep focused on my 'general program'.

So, My November.

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Welcome Hilary, Bach, and Emilianisms

October 20, 2007 21:51

Hey Hilary! Welcome to Violinist dot com--one of the top violin sites on the web. It's a good place to hang out, and Laurie tries to keep us half-way inline.

I saw you in Greensboro with Josh--very cool. I was exhausted and couldn't wait around for you to autograph my CD as I drove five hours. Please may I have an autographed photo!

Your 'Bach' in Am--the other topic of this discussion melted my heart--and those of the audience.. It became a whisper quiet, with well-something wonderful. Welcome!

Having the Gavotte in Dmaj now 90 percent properly memorized, I've only been able to play for a little over an hour the past few days because of other obligations. Some cool things started happening tonight with my double-stops and general feel.

And on my Emilian inspired Lully's Gavotte I started throwing ricochets into the beginnings of the vibrato, and again thought of my Aerosmith origins--the song will nevah nevah, be the same.

I was going to actually have a hundred percent rest tonight, but couldn't. It's probably because I listened to Hilary's Bach all day as I finished a remodeling project.

Tonight I also had a spatial insight that was cool, related to having to practice sometimes in close space. I'll save that for later. And another image for later is based on someone's thread about playing guitar style to perfect vibrato--which was also spatial.

My image was not playing guitar like, but because I actually play guitar, 'sensing' guitar-like in an overall feeling--it seems to be working, and allowed me to see the overall picture from the center of my head through my upper body, to the scroll--a sort of spatial geometry of playing that does involve triangles, just like bowing.

Important though, just like I started feeling my articulation everyone has worked on so hard, finally through Mutchnik's efforts; I felt the instrument as an integral part of my overall flow. I hope that makes sense--actually sensing myself looking at it as a baby-guitar--and feeling it;).

Bringing this disjointed diatribe to a close: Hilary welcome, your Bach though teased me to relinquish my day off! At which realization, my own beginner's Bach showed off to slam-dunk my laziness; at which, my Emilian Lully spoke from the east, all the while bringing me another baby step towards amateur mastery.


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Speed Zone Ahead!

October 16, 2007 21:27

Though I sketched Suzuki 3-6 and 7 the first time through, I have to admit it was with little or no mastery in place. But I was doing much better with Hahn's advice about slowing down.

The past couple nights though, I started applying the metronome better and sort of found myself. This means having certain ideas about when to turn the clicks up, based on how I'm doing.

I did not have any real sense of how this works, though I know how it works? Yes. So I cut down the 120 to 72, and the last melody just dropped into place. Discovering how many passes were necessary is the focus of this blog.

I've been advised to start at 40 of course, but found myself unable to do this having to go for around 60 minimum. So tonight I learned that my way will be at least partly experimenting between at speed and whatever my learning speed turns out to be relatively, though this of course is based on the 'real' difficulty of the music. But I felt it, rather than know about it.

This approach really taught me how to take my time and mark any trouble spots, bad fingerings and bowings, and places where things should be different like grabbing that martele. I was able to accomplish this in one pass--after getting 'real' with the metronome. It took away a lot of stress somehow too, rather than just plunging ahead and now having to go back and redo a lot of things.

So if I were a teacher, I'm not sure how this 'knowing one's speed' would be taught, but it sure deserves attention in my mind. I realize that sometimes phrases and passages come along that are simply brutal and beyond these thoughts, but for the general student: Speed Zone Ahead.

p.s. So I don't confuse anyone who knows I've played music all my life, my earlier learning approach was simple: rote memory. Steps upward? Yeah right--if I could get it in my memory it became mine. And I memorized as much by sound and understanding the steps and intervals early on as much as anything else.

I can't, and don't want to do this with violin because a-violin is so hard; and b-I learned later in my life the power of technique, though still appreciating my top down approach. Besides, it's making my instinct in upper positions.

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Lions and Tigers and Bears-oh my!

October 12, 2007 08:12

Having the Great Pumpkin as one's ally is a wonderful thing; however, taking the football and putting it away from Lucy, until I've finished my practice every night, is a must! Sheesh.

Working through the inertia of a low energy day to get started, I focused intently my first hour and had a good start. Then it started happening. 'The sky is falling'.

First, my browser blew up wiping out loads of vids and materials I was working with. Ok. Dig in. Heck with it. I'm a bigger man than than. So,
I chilled. Only lost ten minutes in between the reconnect, but hours reloading vids.

Calmly getting back on track and adjusting my program, oh yeah there's more. I think Ms. New York is mad (I have luv! for Ms. New York), so she psychics my bridge to collapse. Yep.

Dang! So's I still haven't found my other bridge, so in the interest of time, I grab my spare. 'Let's see--now which way is front--a valid question'. OK, there went 15 minutes.

'The bridge ain't right, I can tell by my string crossings'. Ok, reverse bridge... Finally. Then my rosin started slipping, and in between adjust to the new bridge, I gotta clean my strings... Sheehs gad!

Ten more minutes. So, I still get a grip and readjust everything time wise. FINALLY, I got my program through.

But my persistence because I'm old school and invoke the Gods paid off a little even tonight.
I finally got a little timing issue resolved in a piece of music; and, made progress in the next section really easily.

And, I started getting three and four figure 8's in the bow across the sounding points. Also, I started my created idea to just practice sight reading on piano first because the notes on the violin are falling in place. Worked really well.

Sheesh!

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Lions and Tigers and Bears-oh my!

October 11, 2007 21:46

Having the Great Pumpkin as one's ally is a wonderful thing; however, taking the football and putting it away from Lucy, until I've finished my practice every night, is a must! Sheesh.

Working through the inertia of a low energy day to get started, I focused intently my first hour and had a good start. Then it started happening. 'The sky is falling'.

First, my browser blew up wiping out loads of vids and materials I was working with. Ok. Dig in. Heck with it. I'm a bigger man than than. So,
I chilled. Only lost ten minutes in between the reconnect, but hours reloading vids.

Calmly getting back on track and adjusting my program, oh yeah there's more. I think Ms. New York is mad (I have luv! for Ms. New York), so she psychics my bridge to collapse. Yep.

Dang! So's I still haven't found my other bridge, so in the interest of time, I grab my spare. 'Let's see--now which way is front--a valid question'. OK, there went 15 minutes.

'The bridge ain't right, I can tell by my string crossings'. Ok, reverse bridge... Finally. Then my rosin started slipping, and in between adjust to the new bridge, I gotta clean my strings... Sheehs gad!

Ten more minutes. So, I still get a grip and readjust everything time wise. FINALLY, I got my program through.

But my persistence because I'm old school and invoke the Gods paid off a little even tonight.
I finally got a little timing issue resolved in a piece of music; and, made progress in the next section really easily.

And, I started getting three and four figure 8's in the bow across the sounding points. Also, I started my created idea to just practice sight reading on piano first because the notes on the violin are falling in place. Worked really well.

Sheesh!

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Did I say tiny tiny steps somewhere?

October 6, 2007 15:00

Did I say tiny tiny steps somewhere before? Oh yeah baby--tiny! (It came to mind when I discovered what follows, that I could have most people who can breath on their own playing some sort of piano withing two months, even if it was with fake books ultimately.)

I discovered that my articulation is a chessboard of complexity. But happily, I started seeing I think most of the pieces. My f3 is nervous, which makes my f4 if not nervous, tentative. So I started a start-stop exercise I read about--maybe here.

Rather than etudes, I used real music and stopped immediately when the note sounded muffled. This always happens in general on f3/4--but not completely always. So rather than focusing on evenness across the strings assuming at least basic strength in all four fingers, I have to assume weakness in f3, resulting in tentativeness in f4.

My exercise was to do a harmonic pull--at all stop moments. I discovered:

1. My f1 heaviness comes from f3 I do believe--a grip thing. Focus on this after below.
2. Any f2 awkwardness is because of f1>f3, and the reality that it is a little longer.
3. My f3 muffles, are because of real or perceived nervousness in that finger that requires I think the following:
3.a more weight--and--speed in finger dropping, continuing with the goal of getting good strong balance across the hand eventually, but purposefully building confidence in that finger.
3.b Some f3/f4 trill work when I find said weight, beginning lightly--beyond current trill work.
3.c Some f2/f3 (same as 3.b)
3.d further visualization and confidence building--'hit ain't gonna come it appears if I don't make it happen' -- but-- I felt the path.
4. f4 tentativeness should be fairly easy to improve--I 'felt' where it needs to go, and Mutchnik's hand shaping should help too.
5. An umbrella consideration to all this is, gently let f1 and grip relinquish weight and overcompensation as f3/f4 come back online.

So these discoveries not only create a lot of little steps---which isn't a problem for me--but, it also sort of reverses how many might see articulation development for me. For instance teaching f1 to be light might be easier in a more traditional sense I think.

When I found my harmonic level on f3/f4 in realtime, I was wow'd. I found generally without some details, not enough weight on the string. And I felt, ghost trauma that I have called nervousness in f3. But, and a big but, it was the first time I really saw myself past it!. And, I could immediately bring the solution into realtime.

If it were hoops, I should have been doing some in place jumping or something along the way for f3--some f4, but at least now I know I think. Yes, as I breath out heavily, it sometimes feels like tiny tiny steps. Being freed from an issue, is seeing it clearly as it really is in it's parts sometimes, rather than the frustration of seeing how it should be.

Afterthoughts: I wondered later if it were true that a strong f4 is not the same for everyone--I'll never know. But the fact that f3 is a little wobbly seems unique. But and however, I've applied what I found all day concerning more direct confident action in f3 especially, and a lot in f4. The results were very encouraging.

But I also took a step back as my first trill has become locked on the Gavotte I'm working on. The landscape of bringing first competency in place for me has been wild. So, I also learned the lower limits of slow practice: truly 40 though I've whined it should be half. Strangely, I hit a version of that trill all the time.

But worth revisiting, the Gavotte minus the trill is powerful, and my detached notes are starting to show very well. And tonight, a certain more mature--at least a little--richness started to creep in. I started those slow bowing across the sounding point exercises a couple days ago along with just long slow full bows again, and it seems to be helping(Buri's first lesson). But I also just stayed present in each note tonight--an experience becoming more common.

Also, discovering my left hand has been helped a lot by just watching in the mirror more. I caught a blip of myself going into the trill a few minutes ago--I have to use this more for that purpose--and executed well. But the underlying theme remains as far above. It just has to develop more--and now I think I know how.

That is why this post is important to me.

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My Nap!

October 2, 2007 22:06

Well, I only played an hour today, so I consider that a day off! I only did harmonics, scales, arpeggios and etudes, and about twenty minutes playing, both earlier and later. It was a low energy day, Arthur and other responsibilities expressing themselves astutely. And I did not have my nap!

My nap has become an integral part of my life over the past three years. After my day, crashing for up to two and a half hours, has become somewhat of a mantra ritual for me, Waking up fresh, grabbing some spring-water made fresh coffee, I GET READY FOR FOCUSED practice.

Even Buri's awesome awesome bow curve thread, I've only generously scanned! Whew! Talk about a master class. And Jeewon jumped back in there! Jeewon, Buri, Sue and a couple others really 'leaped' in there helping me well over a year ago, and started me towards articulation and reach.

I wanted to tell Jeewon where all I've been since he helped me, but realized it would be too complicated. Seeing Hilary live, Oliver being given the final credit for articulation, getting a tuck, getting a f4 vibrato, and that is just skimming the top of my head.

And besides, I hadn't had my nap. It really has become that important to me. And now that I'm not only knowing, but feeling and truly implementing what warm up really, should, mean, that nap is even more important.

And I do not even know if he would understand when I would share, that my overuse problems are now 99.5 percent completely under control. I found myself zoning back to pushing down the instrument earlier, so I'll have to reserve .05 percent.

Anyway, I just did one pass of harmonic scales, and then jammed through some straight ones. And I didn't do harmonics on arpeggios, but did have excellent tonality tonight. Stumbling through Buri's post in my mind, I also made a step-wise discovery.

While I was focusing on visualizing following the curve of the bow; and, contrasting it to following the bridge, I began for some reason to start fine tuning reaching over to G/f4 towards letting the instrument trend level, as I adjust at the waist.

Even without my nap, my instinct says, 'this is a good discovery'. Previously, I had allowed the plane of the top of the instrument follow the reach. The result was a deliberate adjustment of my right arm, that caused 'a few--not bad' screeches.

My allowing the instrument to flow level, was really good. Not a single screech, and the intonation with my now shaped hand was very good if not perfect yet.

This intonation factor, was the highlight of my hurried evening. I was hitting my Wohlfahrt: tip, middle and heel, really well. Nobody told me to approach etude at all three areas, but I just started doing that about a year ago because of my masochistic instincts! ;).

So this theme: curve of the bow, considering these areas of the bow, are especially meaningful for me at this moment. Along with my training, this site has 'made' me. Someone advised me to be careful with online resources, but the proof is in the improvement I have made as a result of putting myself out there.

Putting myself out there, was grounded in my realness. This, I think, is why it has worked. I hammer and issue until I get to where I need to be, sometimes repeating, and I have never been let down!

While it will be another couple or three years before I get 'really' good at general music to my satisfaction, I have been overwhelmed these past two to three months with progress. So, this is another reason I need my naps.

The 'Afterburners' that I blogged about awhile ago, have become pretty standard throughout the day now. These, are those really focused/anti-focused moments of just jamming at will.

But this jamming requires a certain energy level. And I also trend towards securing my basic needs focus as part of my life(water, rest, salads), as sort of how my naps became important. I'm consoled in knowing that others have taken leadership in their rest as I.

Naps, in my humble opinion, are a good thing.

p.s. If the final result of my efforts have an eery resemblance to David Nadine, it's because Buri ate all the Prunes!

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Grit and Injury:Thanks

October 1, 2007 01:52

Recuperating one's left hand is a serious matter, more for most real violinists (pros), than myself. There is a pretty well understood though relative learning curve where one gets use to balancing the instrument and putting articulation in place for anyone.

Rather than repeat the details, I'm now about 32 months into my violin experience, having begun rather seriously hurt. So, in that as I promised myself that my persistence would be my badge of honor for having worked through pain that effected guitar, piano, and banjo very seriously--not to mention that I had begun learning violin at near the very moment I took the fall.

So in learning to shape one's hand, get a tuck and so forth with a screamin timidness that I can laugh at but others cannot ;). I want to share here the most important elements in getting there or back there I think after injury.

When one's articulation is destroyed from the start, it becomes like some sort of mythological torture test that one must endure. So beyond the exercises I arranged, there is the spiritual, psychological and emotional elements better left for later.

First now I want to talk about just physical things, like balancing the instrument, shaping the hand and articulation.

There is an exercise at violinmasterclass(VMC) dealing with finger dropping and another on finger dropping and harmonics. And Ron Mutchnik finally made clear to me about hand shaping, and I took myself to 'quiet' hand behavior on my own, but more on that later. And summarily, with good light balance comes good tuck.

I've taken the pulling back to a harmonic then find the note, to an extreme, and it worked 'beautifully'. Rather than just do 3 minutes, I applied both the pulling back and required bow speed for a harmonic 'on anything playable that will move'.

My program begins with doing all major scales in 2 -8v, at first with a harmonic pull in between the finger drops; and, then I do them quickly with just a harmonic without considering the bow effect.

Then, I do arpeggios the same, focusing even more intently on hand shape and quietness. Only then do I start etudes, focusing priority wise first on the thumb, then the lighness of drop for another 15 or so minutes. Buri's image of a spider across the string has been present recently.

My balancing the instrument has been an epochal journey that continues, with Arthur knocking on my door not accepting that my refusal to answer is for real. And though it's still isn't instinctive, my elbow working 'with' the instrument is coming nicely.

This balancing the instrument, related closely to shaping the hand, becomes of special concern when injured. One must have good light balance, with hand able to adjust across the strings, before the light articulation will mean a lot.

Crash landing on f4 with a timid bad angle and elbow outward should be strong enough image to continue. And it has taken three ship loads of patience to get that tuck and timidness to begin leaving to the point of seeing exciting noticeable difference.

And of course nearly every piece of music I've encountered had an f4 in a key measure! ;). But, one of the differences is that tonight I hit my f2-f3 trill on ding, so nicely the first time .

Along with respecting the angst of patience, is that that the left hand when challenged, effects the right hand. I think it was lucky that I started with the attitude that I'd play silky then strong, the strong just beginning to show. This necessary focus on left hand remedially for so long, instructed my bow as well--and continues to do so.

So, recuperating the left hand, or either hand, should be turned into positives from just as early as possible. I also have reasons to believe I may have not persisted if a, I hadn't fallen in love with violin so badly; and, b, I hadn't fallen and truly truly slowed myself down. Yes Karen, I think I'm hyper too! ;).

It took grit and Aleve to get through the pain, but it took love to persist. I may be an exception, but consider these when dealing with injuries.

For those who aren't beginners, you will find through injury, where your weak points are I think. 'The weaknesses are the first to show themselves in recovery'. And if anomalies are just the knee-jerk reaction to trauma, you will get chances to improve important basics--I feel I can promise that.

I have to give my somewhat deistic universal concept of the sacred, the credit because violin was a nearly life-changing accident for me--it turned out in more ways than one. My directions took care of themselves in effect, and I feel almost a participant in these processes at times, rather than a director.

But let your circumstances beyond any doctors required instruct. Keep the ole resolve well oiled and tough though, and go ahead and set unmeasurable goals such as 'I'm just going to keep improving as long as I breath'. Personally, I don't have any choice--this violin-goil is a 10.

Hearing those grace notes and trills ring after pretty well done detached notes even on f4 tonight on some first serious passes, was sooo worth it all(plus these Gavottes and the next Bouree I've been so look'n forward to). Also, revisiting earlier material with nicely improved balance, articulation and vibrato was awesome!

I realized not too long ago that I couldn't even remember a list of names of all those who jumped in there to help me. So, simply, thanks. Al


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