August 2007


August 30, 2007 11:35

I found a hundred memories today, that nearly overwhelmed me. I thought they were all lost in a fire. I found my awards from Grade school, Jr. High and High School.

I found my award for making it to the regional science fair, and my ID tag from where I picked tobacco a summer during a summer work program. There also in that little packet, I found the article about our High School Graduation, that had a photo of my dear friend who died a few years ago grinning back at me. I miss her so very badly.

I found songs I'd written, and realized I was an environmentalist before the liberalizing influences of college; and, that our beautiful ancient mountains meant the world to me even in my early childhood. I found a poem that impressed a teacher so profoundly, that she hung it enlarged on posters during our spectacular autumns for years.

I found a beautiful letter one of my eighth grade teachers wrote me, telling me she loved me too! But that I needed to quit being so lazy--actually three times at least in the letter. I aggravated her unmercifully on a daily basis, and wish I could see her now.

I found a memorial from a lost friend in eighth grade. And I found a 1943 interpretation by Hawaii's media I had squirreled away, of Hawaii's official response to Pearl Harbor. I can't wait to read this, being a good revisionist revisionist reviser.

And after I stopped wiping my eyes, I realized just what I'm going to give my friend's son when he graduates High School in a couple more years.

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My Virtuous posture

August 26, 2007 02:28

My virtuous moment today, was very very cool. I started feeling my left elbow under the instrument in a somewhat instinctive way, and it was surprisingly fluid though not perfect. Months and months of crunching do not easily go away. I really wonder if Aleve should not pay me a few dollars, or at least grab me some strings.

Ron, I wish I could give you all the credit, but it was many many people who got me here over what feels like a long long time in some ways, but in other ways I'm somehow oblivious to the actual passing of the time.

Raphael, Buri, Sue, teachers, grit, a long long long list,... got me here. When I play cards I always say the winning card out loud for posterity's sake. It was Ron's exercises over the strings that won the game for me.

I started slowly just relaxing and flowing my elbow, then I furthered this by reducing the arcs each string might experience. Then I started focusing on a flow from the center of my neck and back left-wise. And I started feeling the swinging and adapting for notes in a light and fluid fashion. Some days being legatomeister do pay off. Today as tired as I am, I would have no choice anyway--use all moments folks.

So, I felt this flow starting to communicate with my fingers being over the strings actually as the reference point rather than the elbow, as the mental and physical connection was made. Dang, that's clear.

So, given the mountains I've climbed, this is major epiphany again--what for the third time this month?--and opens a lot of new doors for being able to focus on other things.

But the significance of the moment is that it is clear that for months and months and months I've been struggling with this. And just the idea of being able to refocus on technique more is darn awesome. Equally so, the idea of getting to push forward in my actual music isn't half bad either.

Ron, your exercises are finding allies all over the place in what little bag of tricks I've put together over the months. I feel like I'm being ganged up on by Oliver, Clayton, Milstein, Perlman and Hahn on my right side; and, you, a whole darn list of people darn near everywhere on my left side, a little old lady on my overall body, and I'm still a bashful little legatomeister who pants over my violin like a dog over a bone. Life is so unreal some days. I could've have made theoretical math my hobby! Dang. (uh-perhaps sadly, seriously;).)

Raphael's ditching the rest experience loaded the bases, and gracefully eased me into my girl's bosom. A teacher's coaching gave me an idea of where I needed to go overall, and inspired me with less than ten notes. And Hahn melted my Milstein fantasies with the most beautiful beautiful graceful control.

Just feeling my fingers adapt quickly for a vibration is a personal thing, that also deserves another mention concerning having been 'born' on violin with pain. I cash in another chit for having persisting, in taking the fingerboard for my own consistently, even if in an adolescent spirit so far. It's a step beyond the football player learning to dance in "Footlose". By gosh I got the bruises too!.

Also tonight, I felt the instrument floating in my hold, to adapt across the strings. And that showed also, or sounded rather. And I was able to adapt from my waist to augment my G/--somewhat D reaches. I'm currently feeling for my ranges of motion that compliment what I'm working on with my right side. But I'm also minimizing every motion as I go--I luv Hilary!

So this virtuous moment really is a consortium of ideas, angst and basic ability. A posture Festival is good for anyone.

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OCD Thought of the Day.

August 24, 2007 12:27

My OCD point for the day is that Ron got my left side heading in the correct direction. Again. The exercises for teaching my elbow to flow under the instrument seem to be working 'very' nicely; and, I created one of my own: "London Bridge is Falling down" starting with f3 on each string, very slowly and monitoring focus.

I will certainly work with the patterned exercises generously shared, but returning to this legato London focus is my way of Hahn'ing it out for some time to come. I took the exercises to some more intense etudes, and lasted longer than I thought I would. And I applied the awareness to more 'real' music fairly successfully.

So, I'm watching my left elbow, I'm watching my right elbow (thanks Oliver), I'm watching my neck and moving lightly from time to time to stay relaxed. I'm watching my bow hair contact, my sounding point, my bow pressure (speed is no problem). I'm watching my right shoulder, oh yeah, and I'm reading the music in between.

I've heard, what doesn't kill ya will make ya better. How true!. Had it not been for pegging the arpeggios I'm working on earlier, I'd yell or somethin!. And I love it.

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Albinoni: Part IV

August 19, 2007 16:04

Well, I backed up my hope to move Albinoni up the the next octave for the first concept before the beautiful low range runs leading to the arpeggio a couple nights ago.

It's going to be very pretty several months from now, but I found that it works very well. And the contrast I was hoping for jumped out at me immediately.

After finishing a work cycle, I finally got some decent quality time today, though I play daily and after work. I made it through to page six reading, and up through page four is quickly on it's way to long term memory.

Anyway, I'm tempted to begin it an octave up, and jump back down to the runs mentioned, but will not at least for a long time. The elements following page four must be in place, and have an attached flow of their own that I do not want to mess with--I may however approach it as an aside with the higher octave just to prepare for the long run--it's very beautiful that way, and adds a lot to making it stand on it's own for solo and/or single accompaniment.

So tonight, after reading someone's blog I'm starting to get my quarter year goals in place, of course Albinoni memorization being one of them. They will consist of etudes, scales, arpeggios, etudes, etudes, etudes, and Suzuki.

I also want to reinvoke my earlier element studies I borrowed from violinmasterclass. I have to find a smarter approach though to prevent over use as I go forward though. I'm feeling that while learning Albinoni that my inability to walk and chew bubble gum is trying to express itself in making me lose my focus on posture.

So one of my goals will also be to sense where I'm pushing too much or too fast, and re-connect with Hilary's practice advice molded to my realities. I find that once I start successfully sketching something with good focus and slowness, the following efforts seem to find me finding myself getting sloppy on the parts I've already memorized. I know where the pattern comes from, but am not sure what to do about it.

Today, I started moving back towards good posture with page one through four successfully, and the tone shows--though is not where I need it to be yet.

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Albinoni: My Daily Bread, The Saga Part III

August 17, 2007 10:33

This morning I started playing consistently through page four, and trying to add better treatment--the kind I'm use to in Em to the first notion,attempting to add this treatment to the first runs, and shooting for the arpeggios. I made it to the arpeggios, but not through them.

So I was fed, to sense that all this work I've done on relaxing will pay it's first dividends as I not perfectly but surprisingly fluidly grabbed the high high G.

And I remembered that someone wrote (someone quoted someone good rather), that we should know "every" way of getting somewhere when shifting.

So, I kicked in my relax zen and just did it(Aside: this zen trickled backwards to what I was already doing ok in a preliminary sense). I still have to figure out the first details in 'style' though.

These details will involve what someone was talking about in terms of each string's character, in relation to what I choose to say with the arpeggios. While I have confidence in choosing music, 'these' details speak directly to Sung's question about becoming a better teacher.

The technician v. musician is at stake here, and I've been there many many times on piano. I've chosen before to take a bass line very low, and consisting of a single disjointed note rhythmically and making the melody and right hand speak well--somewhat like bagpipes or something the right hand in the lower upper ranges.

It will be easy enough to find logical comfortable shifts I think. But that will not be good enough for me ultimately. With this song I'll be gearing towards some of the things we've all discussed, again the individual string's character comes to mind, in making the music stand on it's own.

Though I didn't rosin, I'm wrestling with bow speed near the fingerboard because I do not really want to use vibrato, but I also do not want it to fall on it's face or become whispy on at least the first four violin measures. And as a comparison, m1 and m3 must be brilliant as open e on some levels(from where I tinkered with open e before finding the music AND THE SCORE!).

One of my major current obstacles is laying out eight pages of music. I got confused because a measure wasn't sounding right and nothing I did helped. Uh, page 3 was switched with page 4. For an entire day! ;).

But it's not the requisite fans during dog days, it's my eye sight, and fear of invoking tension leaning towards the music. Of course these problems go away when I've learned something completely--to me, but I've approached this like I did Becker's Gavotte: slowly and note wise.

Finally, the bread this morning was aggregate. Knowing that I'll be able to find my way nicely to the high G, speaks 'something' to the rest of the music. But I'm wise enough to know not to overdo it, if I want this song to progress 'over time'. I took my transposed slow mvmt: pathetique for granted for a couple years--at least--before I discovered the awesome awesome subtle beauty there.

I study of course as an experimental amateur violinist, with the technical things added much much earlier than any instrument I've worked with, and exponentially more intently--an experience I hope to continue.

My goal then is not to take series of techniques towards melody, but to use my ear for music to reverse the process this time, as I remain,
Mr. Legatomeister. (insert here the second and third ideas of slow mvmt: Pathetique).

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Albinoni: Legatomeister Bound: The Saga Part II.

August 17, 2007 00:25

I was on like page three or four of Albinoni and encountered the low range runs. I melted. I'm still melting. This is humiliating. ;).

I dug in to the runs; and grabbed some slow loud at the bridge, and they are in my entire upper half of my body as I write.

Realizing as I sketched that even the arpeggios are going to be awesome, my brain screeched cuss words. I can't take it!. But I will.

I feel like I'm in a dream as all these things begin coming together: a wonderful, intense, even surreal something. God knows I've worked my 'quite pretty' arse off ;).

I immediately stepped out of the box and up to bat in choosing to do it in upper octaves as well, lower contrasting octaves, and more. This, will be one of my two so far legatomeister signatures for a long long time I'm sure.

My first legatomeister expression was a string of Ave's, which will always be a part of my personal repertoire. Then it was actually my first love, "Air on G", that took me to some 'real' competency. Mary Beth should have listened to me.
God will be jealous.

Come to think of it, I actually now have three legatomeister candidates, McGlothin's "Arms of the Angels" considered. I'm gonna rock that baby. Nonetheless, I'm finding Albinoni a perfect musical expression for violin.

When I make a song my own, it's a cool thing. And at some better percent of luck, I choose well for some reason. When I was grabbing my first lower range notes earlier, I knew that though it would sound cocky, that something very very spayshul was happening.

The 'D' string animated with that first 'G' in a way that made me grin broadly--and I did. And in making the choice for bow speed near(er) the fingerboard for the opening notes, I could hear the ensemble becoming the solo--I grinned again.

I do not even have the words for that experience of bridging the gap between ability, technique and abstraction. Oh'm'gosh.

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Albinoni The Saga.

August 15, 2007 15:36

How cool that after blogging last, I found the Albinoni music first search. And it had the organ parts included as well. I was in the garden picking some zucchini for a friend and came in to rest a minute and decided to chance a search. Whalah!

I immediately went to working with it and was absolutely thrilled that I won't have to figure out the arpeggio like runs and so forth.

Even more importantly, I found myself reading it first pass, probably because I know it so well in some ways.

Now I have to fight the temptation to play the organ parts as well. And it's given me the written material with which to chose chunks and phrases as a violin solo without so much work as well.

How very cool.

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Albinoni Revisited

August 15, 2007 10:44

Adagio in Gm by Albinoni is awesome. Sitting here listening and learning I have to wonder if there is an unaccompanied solo version anywhere. For other adult beginners I highly recommend this piece for something meaty to chew on.

It was one of the first themes that came unexpectedly to my strings when I first started experimenting with violin some time ago. And now, learning some of the other parts is a 'peak' experience for sure. And most importantly, it is very much achievable--and God awful beautiful, especially when done 'exactly' at tempo.

Last night I was even stretching it out a little more because the place I was practicing had wonderful acoustics and it was filling the room awesomely.

Not only the main notion, but the interconnecting arpeggio like themes are just wonderful for working on musicality. And the white space required to pull it off successfully between phrases is good for one as well I think.

I find that it is also somewhat flexible and forgiving if one pushes it a little--unlike other especially largo type stuff that falls apart when pushed. But, m:52 grabs it distinctly.


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let it go,and be free! Paul's response

August 14, 2007 21:46

Paul, your post generated valuable wisdom all the way 'round. I just finished my first 'fairly' serious passes of "Adagio in Gm", in Em, by Albinoni.

This letting go! Your comment that you are just doing open strings made me think. You also said paraphrased, that "when I don't focus". I wanted to suggest to you that this focus is deceptive.

For your first several years, you will be focusing I hope, on this "letting go". I was writing earlier to someone that, 'this violin is a jealous creature' that demands complete "letting go".

But there is a method to this letting go, based on your specific body-type. Though you may be a natural in posture, there are chances that as an adult beginner that you may 'not be so natural'. Especially in playing violin.

Though this wonderful flowing image seems abstract, it isn't. The image is a matter of all the elements that make up relaxed posture, and apply themselves to the sometimes quarrelsome violin.

Lightness of instrument placement.
yet. secureness of instrument placement. many, my experience
Level control in a balanced but parallel orientation of the instrument. many + external sources
Worth repeating: a lightness of placement,
with the instrument 'resting' on the hand and shoulder. Raphael
Comfortable stance the basics
nice breathing many, external

Especially for adults all these things in a package do not come so easily. So, as you add technique--(different bowings, ....), keep all these things in mind. For instance, good detached notes do not come from scrunching so much, unless you are a scruncher. Good detached notes come from good relaxed control. I hope that makes sense.

When I was playing Albinoni a few minutes ago, it was so awesome! My body after months and months of work was floating--months and months of work--and pain, cussin'.. Not only Albinoni but other candidates in my legato fest, were melting all over the place--if not 100% perfectly.

Though my knees began trembling, I maintained composure a little better this time 'round. And when I just instinctively started sketching the first ascending theme, it came 'too' nicely.

This letting go you see, has many layers from finesse in technique, to effective efficient composure when the spirit hits. Do not take it for granted. Nurture it, make it yours. It will make all the difference.

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It's still the small things: Peristence and Rambling

August 13, 2007 02:17

For about eighteen months, I've had a song on my strings that I heard years ago. I asked my friend--even tried to sing it over the telephone (I sing like a bull moose in heat), and never have been able to find where it comes from. Until today.

I had heard this music back in the early eighties and apparently it stuck. And on violin it is haunting and beautiful, if a little sad and mournful. But I've always been into those grab'm by the heart even if you have to make'm cry songs.

Leisurely picking up a classical tape in this mess I've made after traveling for thirty years, I threw it in the tape deck. Whalah! Well I'll be. Barely able to read the label with my tired eyes, I'm driving around the mountain trying to squeeze the letters out.

Anyway, even if I have to do it by ear, this will be a piece I'll always tinker with. It was actually part of my legato-fest last night, before I found it--now how cool is that. So I was refreshing my spelling of the composer, and there she lives on Youtube.

It's "Adagio in Gm" by Albinoni. Some may remember I was asking about Adagio and Cantabile music awhile back. This is definitely one of the reasons I think. And she's worth the waiting, or persisting.

And finally as related to persisting, how pleasant to find that I can even bring it into a slower presentation than I'm already doing. Oh my. You would have had to been a fly on the wall at my earlier legato fest to understand. Persistence.

I s'pose I should start moving it from Em to Gm sooner rather than later, though I'll miss that open e-study it brought me through sorely. I would be interested to know other's thoughts about, if just making a piece one's own for solo purposes, whether to just leave it, or go ahead and do the transposing.

Musically, I love it more than the Sarabande I trudge along with, and it's been with me so long I know it's not because it's new. I think though that one will effect the other ultimately.

Earlier, I was rocking out Lully and jamming into the song with a sixteenth or so rest (my rests are for hopefully good drama found in white space more than perfect timing--I extend them, shorten them, have made them dramatically long). And I was working on my forte near the bridge, in that first e with focus still on legato--if that makes sense. At least for me, it was powerful.

Anyway, the combination as I get both settled down will be pretty cool. This is sort of E. European to me Mara. And now I've both persisted, and rambled.

And while I'm rambling, the tone improvement thread rocks.

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My Two Epiphany moments today.

August 1, 2007 10:27

Doing away with my shoulder rest took guts, but I'm past that now and putting things back in place technique wise. One epiphany today involved understanding what others were doing with shoulder pads and adapting something along those lines.

I took three rubber bands and non-obtrusively but relatively securely attached my leather like pad to my instrument with no loss of sound. It works wonderfully and I'll still be able to put my instrument away with said pad attached. It's not the most secure setup I suppose, but I handle my violin with kid's gloves anyway, so I can see it doing the job for the foreseeable future.

Finally getting in the the Hahn practice spirit was my other epiphany over the past four or so days. After scanning the last three Suzuki pieces in book three, I started learning Becker's Gavotte.

Not experimenting, and containing the impulse to just play allowed me to learn the entire thing with correct bowings in just a few passes--though of course I have a long way to go to get it to really sing. I seem to have some problem remembering bowings, I think because there is no really fixed pattern as in running scales on piano.

But it was beyond the bowings that I finally got the HH spirit. I just forced myself to slow down as perfectly as I have been able to do so far. I've been working towards this for some time, and the diversion in ditching the rest, putting my bow back to the strings, and finding my centers seems to have created the luxury of space and time to allow me to just hit it note per note, phrase per phrase, detached note per detached note, and finally with continuity in getting through the entire piece.

The restless setup also served as a deterrent for me in getting the Hahn practice gig going. I respect the need for flow and relaxed posture as at no other time, and thus my focus has had to adjust to this 'do not slouch!', attitude.

I thus wonder if all people approaching particularly violin and viola go through this finding one's self body and posture wise? And does cello have it's own unique physical considerations? There is something that feels above and beyond getting my callus on guitar, compared to getting my tuck on violin--very above and beyond--at least for me.

Anyway, learning the Gavotte without that unfocused not-really knowing what was going on was somewhat a first experience for me. I won't say that other learning has been completely chaotic, but I will say this focus on slowness was especially calming and rather stress free.

I found it most notable that I found the ability to stop myself when I had lost my place; and, found the discipline to not try and memorize it without really knowing 'exactly' where each bowing was going. It was 'that' level of detail.

Epiphany is cool, even if it does sometimes only involved the smallest aspects of something.

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