This is the absolutely strangest feeling--no violin other than lightly working on a couple songs, now for three or four days--I think three. I needed a break. My body ached, and Anne had me spending all my time reciting original recipes from memory.
For somewhat over two years, I've never had a break other than like a day every three or four months, and then mostly mini-breaks meaning playing signficantly on those days. My left wrist and thumb joint are thanking me profusely, and in that it's only a break considering I'm finishing the Sarah McGlaughlin song "In the Arms of the Angels", and the Sarabande terrible two(or three last measures), it feels simply good to just focus liesurely on those.
I'm finding how signficant my warm up periods had become, in that when just pickin up my violin and playing it sounds like I'm not connecting with it somewhat. I wonder then, how long others just in general terms have to warm up, if at all?
Still this break thing, it does feel somewhat strange. I think I'll take just a couple/few more days to get my breath and think about the phenomonal number of hours I've put in--somewhere between 2200 and 2800 all told and said.
It's a good time to chill a few for me--I've earned it, my wrist demands it, my saturated brain appreciates it, and the neighbor's dogs brought me captured chipmunks this evening. I thought the barking meant encore!
The beautiful mountains of southern West Virginia for one who knows how to work hard is a phenomonal place to learn violin, garden and live. Coming from a family tradition with nearly Paul Bunyon mythical characters in terms of work-ethic, in the midst of the greenest most temperate environment on earth is one of the best kept secrets in America today. I can say this because I've traveled and lived all over the world.
I use to travel 3 hours each way to underwrite my mom and dad's rural traditions and quality of life every single weekend, and finally was needed at home permanently about a year ago. These never ending work missions created some of the most impressive high scale gardens in our area--I'm sure. A little boasting? Nope. A little fishing story? Nope again.
Installing asparagus beds working directly with Scott Walker of Jersey Asparagus Farms, who works directly with Rutgers University I installed awesome asparagus beds over a couple years, aggravating the heck out of him until I 'knew' I had it right(he no longer answers my emails!--just kidding). Working directly with Territorial Seed I installed 10 varieties of garlic from all over the world several years ago which I maintain like a baseball card collector. The same with gold raspberries, strawberry patches, red raspberries, and all that is before the corn, beans and potatoes are in the ground.
I then started thinking, 'well, why can't I grow celeries, and root-cellar carrots; and, find other ways of looking at canning and sustainable maintenance'. The answer: I can and do, and others can too! At least a couple I know of come pretty close.
My violin experience began appropriately on my hundred dollar squeaker in the greenhouse(which I made happen) late night for several hours on weekends (ouch!), before returing home and doing the same practice there during the week. At my parents,I was hoping to scare the groundhogs effectively--it didn't work, but I swear the plants looked healthier. So my life for the past few years has been a blur of phenomonal work, tempered by an equally surreal drama of shake it off and move on.
Violin is like gardens. A moment of awesome beauty (finally got Air on G String smoother than silk) to jeezusss H. Christ quit zoning when you're getting through your elements. Gardens too are a Jobian lesson in persistence and patience. This year surely, has been such a year.
The warm period in March got me going early to finish my latest raised strawberry patch, edging the rose garden, fertilizing the garlic, transplanting fruit trees I'd started, thinking about moving things into the greenhouse (of course too early), even clearing a patch of new ground. The existing strawberry patches looked like little half bushel baskets as black green as ever existed, and those problematic fancy daffodils were teasing the heck out of me with bunches of blooms on each side of the Batik Irises(Iris is both a heirloom, as well as inherited blessing of good luck 'round here because many are passed from generation to generation). And then came the sackcloth.
During a big family event at easter (aka: show-boat time),the freeze hit. The strawberries in the end looked like they could never possibly recover being completely flattened on the frozen ground. All bloomed orchard trees seemed completely destroyed, and there was actually ice an eighth inch thick on many things, and of course I'm suppose to be a good host. Would anyone like to have some fancy daffodil bulbs? So I dig into the very depth of my old-school resolve, and say well, the cabbage made it.
So here I go visiting every single strawberry plant pulling dead blooms--oh yes, it's a lot of strawberries. Cursing a little because I felt I deserved it (God and I get along that way, as Mark Twain is my soul-brother), I pulled my reserve cauliflower, brussel sprouts and other things from the green house and replanted. The damaged asparagus had my insides in knots, and the thought of no cherries had me researching how to make moonshine.
The first few days the strawberries kept opening up damaged blooms (little black spots in the kernels). The first opening I said, 'ah yes'-some strawberries, then realized they were dead blooms.
So yes, I visited every plant again, and pulled 'those' dead blooms. Then finally, a live bloom appeared after much Miracle Grow, various mountainous rituals learned from the mountain granny up in the hollow, who 'knows' God personally I'm sure, more blooms appeared. Then some more damaged blooms--yep, I pulled them all again. Of course this ended up nicely, as today, I noticed the strawberries are heavy with beautifully healthy blooms, and that green I'm use to was starting to show off(The cherries and apples rebounded too). This story though is far, from over.
Just as I got the other types of plants stablized and lookin good--my gardens have to look good too--I noticed something eating on a cabbage plant. Over the next couple days, all of the replanted cabbage except one, and all the cauliflower were nubbs!. Now, I know people who use to eat groundhog, but I don't. Then I thought, 'ya know, my uncle threatened to bring a tarapin over hear last year he found in his garden'. But the good Lord knows me too well,and retribution always bights me in the tail. What the storybook didn't tell you is that Paul Bunyon is sometimes a little competitively honary, molded by a wonderful real conscience formed I think, by mountains--a sensibility that makes philosophy seem trite. The groundhog though, no longer lives under the out-building, and my final wave of cole-crops are ready to roll--and of course lookin good. No Ms. Anne, I'm not tired. ;).
And --in the.........''mean time''......, up above the house where I saw a bear pass through last year(another real blog), a coal truck turns over, dumping about 30 tons of excellent excellent coal. Having permission to get what we wanted before the cleanup Monday, here I go again. Load after load after load, I moved twenty tons of coal the past couple days--oh what the heck, I can mow the upper 40 in between loads. But this one I sort of won. My uncle who would drop off a tarapin on our side of the mountain, because I swear I think he was dropped on his head as a baby, didn't find out about the coal until I was about 15 tons in.
Now he is 82, and hasn't missed a lick working since he was about 10. He stops on the highway as we are loading with the predictable questions, saying of course he'll be right back after the baseball game, and I look at him with the biggest blackened faced grin I could manage and out of nowwhere said, 'you're gonna have to beat me to it'! ;). Oh God--wrong thing to say.
Now mountain folk are sensitive by nature, and do remember that retribution thing. Yes, I loaded his truck several times too. He'd never seen two tons of coal on a small truck...Let's see that'll make 26 loaded, 20 unloaded. I am not, I am not, I am not, going to say what's next!. But be assured, a mountain boy will survive!. No Ms. Anne, I'm not tired. ;).
And some think Flesch is hard? (honary half-cynical: huh)...
The Sarabande I'm working on is an original interpretation I think, because I'm certain it was written for lute or guitar or something. There are about two measures in the last theme that is still thinking it's a groundhog because I'm transposing it for violin live and real time rather than to piano first. I've played it for years on guitar, and God forbid when I finish it on violin--it will and I do mean it will, receive a dedication of all the angst of just another day on the mountain this year. And I love it--every minute of it...
I actually do love the Sarabande--it's hauntingly beautiful on violin(BWV997). I think I'll wear sackcloth when it's ready for consumption. You see good reader (Oh God, I'm sounding like Henry Fielding), in the mountains, the music really does lead the way.
How appropriate it feels that I had been replanting things damaged by the recent freeze just before the Virginia Tech Convocation, where I heard the story of Professor Liviu Librescu.
A seventy-six year old holocaust survivor, Professor Librescu died in the senseless violence that visited Virginia Tech's campus this week. More importantly, Professor Librescu was holding the door closed as young students escaped through the windows when the gunman shot him.
The irony of the two major violent dramas Professor Librescu experienced in his life tempts me to believe in destiny, though I really do not. Still, his life as a survivor only to give the ultimate sacrifice this week holds important lessons about how deeply the human spirit's reslience can flow.
Equally to the beautiful young violinist who died in the chaos, we are left with a dual message of both persistence and beauty wrapped up in the most clear definition of real paradox imaginable when we consider both she and Professor Librescu simultaneously.
This paradox that calls upon persistence as it's primary driving motive, will pull upon the hearts of the families suffering from phenomonal loss over the next months and years, as well as all those involved at Virginia Tech including it's University culture.
The worst shooting tragedy in American history, therefore is not colored by the numbers, but by the sadness that an aspiring violinist will not be heard, as the notes unheard join with the terrible memory of the millions from an earlier time, carried upon the memory of a 76 year old professor. God Bless the families surviving the Viriginia Tech tragedy. I'm convinced Proferssor Librescu's tiller is already making yet another way.
I never enter into my practice journal the best part of violin: afterburners. After finishing a couple hours warm ups and practice (exactly 2:38) to get through my current basic program, I jam!
Many pieces are coming together all at once for me:
Air On G String silky smooth.
Witches Dance--God bless my violin!.
Bist du bei mire--more silk.
In the Arms of the Angels--in the que.
BWV 997--sheesh God almighty, and it's just a baby.
Boccherini--silk became migration.
Martin Gavotte and etc.
So after doing many of those formally for improvment, I let loose like a Ninja truly as Kurt Sasamanhaus says, "putting it all together" at more and more times--at least on my level.
But it's not the progress that whips my tail, but the actual jammin. I was diggin in to Humoresque tonight and thought of the benefits of having a lot of company over the holiday--I show off ;).
But again the point here is the jammin. Being exhausted fighting the Gods over the cold snaps in the gardens, a house full of people who get to see me spraying things at 7am and without a thought sending one of them up the mountain to water the raspberries, I've had a few nights of just really really smooth jammin.
This afterburners thing has been the best part of violin. I think back at the I'm sure at least 'well' over a thousand hours so far in the jammin part of my violin journey beyond practice,
Of course jammin got me in trouble from day one, with everyone involved--my uh, teachers, myself, my progress, but nobody will ever get to take the fact that as God modest at is was early on, I can think back today and remember a few measures here and a few measures there that sounded like one jammin.
I started to put this in my practice journal, but chose this venue for no particular reason, other than for adult beginning students of violin who work very hard, they confound the system that they more than any other student of music, let the music lead the way. And, it is also important because teachers who teach serious motivated adults need to learn how very important jammin is to adult students--the discipline to persist is far closer linked to jammin for adults than recognized I think, and go far beyond "Three Blind Mice" in this importance.
A poem for Yixi:
Playing not, jammin!
Violin will stay on stand.
Jammin or be damned.
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