Long Term Goals

January 16, 2007 at 10:00 PM · Is Bach Partita In E too ambitous as a really long term goal for an adult student? I just watched Milstein doing it, and it is breathtaking.

With that in mind, and given that I don't want to start an abstract flame war on cans and can'ts, what might be some reasonable goals along these lines.

I'm alread on the 'can-do' side of life, but I think it would be interesting to envision and discuss this.

Replies (37)

January 16, 2007 at 10:14 PM · You should ask your teacher. It is difficult for us to judge, especially since we have no idea how quickly you are advancing. You should try to pick intermediate goals at this point.

January 16, 2007 at 11:01 PM · Greetings,

yes, that is a very reasonable long term goal. It isn`t that long term either.

Having specific piece sas goals is very useful and inspiring. You might consider other goals aswel that have a more concrete realization. For example, playign in a specific community orchestra, forming a piano trio and playing concerts, doing a recital, going to one of these summer chambe rmusic camps and so on.

If you cna establish these then you can discuss with your teacher how to work backwards from there. For example, I had a goal to play the Beethoven cocnerto with an orchestra in five years,. Having established that allowed me to ask `what do I nee dot be doing in four years?`(three years, 2 years, by the end of this year, in six monthes, by the end of the month, by the end of the week, today, this practice session?)

By constantly reviewing these goals I wa sable to get where I wnated to even though I struggle with livng out of the mainstream with not much in the way of feedback to keep me going.

Cheers,

Buri

January 17, 2007 at 03:06 AM · I've just finished up work on that piece. It wasn't too terribly difficult. You might have a heart-attack when you first try those thirds, but it's short-lived shock. (heh heh)

Just kidding. The best part about being an adult student? YOU'RE in charge! You're paying THEM. You can learn whatever the heck you want and screw up as much as you want and play for whoever will listen. There's no end to dreaming, so dream and work away.

Of course, before you can get the piece out there at any level, you'll have to get enough mechanical training so your fingers can handle the thirds, the stretches, the double stops, fifths, general acrobatics and so your bow can manage to keep up with all of it.

That particular piece is doable. I think it's a very good goal. Will you ever play it like Milstein? Hmmmm . . . what do you think? I'd like to hear it if you do.

January 16, 2007 at 11:54 PM · Buri, I'm curious about your goal of playing the Beethoven VC with an orchestra. How much control do you have over that part? Unless you're rich enough to have an orchestra at your disposal, or you have some high connections, I imagine you have to win a competition or something to earn that privilege. Winning a particular competition seems to me not an ideal goal, because there is so much subjectivity and luck involved.

On a related note, I learned recently that Mendelssohn's family was so rich that he had his own orchestra who'd play his compositions for him. Pretty nice perk!

January 17, 2007 at 01:16 AM · Greetings,

not quite so ambitious. There are plenty of amateur/semi profesisonal orchestras around here and my ugly mug is well enouhg know for various nefarious reasons. I do a fair nunmber of solo concerts a year.

Sort of a dead fish in a small pond....

Cheers,

Buri

January 17, 2007 at 01:28 AM · Yes. He says Hey, I want to play the Beethoven concerto with you this year. The conductor says sure, great, beats the hell out of Pachabel's canon.

January 17, 2007 at 02:02 AM · Anyway, back to topic: the subject is reasonable long term goals for adult students. Thanks Buri, Kimberlee. I didn't qualify it by short and medium term goals, which I have plenty, as do other adults I hope.

Kimberlee, you will have the heart attack to realize I'm bold enough to say, Milstein will never be able to play it like me!. ;) Thank goodness.

January 17, 2007 at 02:11 AM · Greetings,

nah, Pachabel`s canon gave me real problems. I kept falling out the end.

Cheers,

Buri

PS Albert, my point is that if you don`t have an overarching long term goal or two your short/medium term goals are not anchored effectively and might even be the wrong choices.

January 17, 2007 at 02:42 AM · I got it Buri....thanks.

January 17, 2007 at 11:06 AM · Albert, what are you currently playing? The goal is not inconceivable, but has an indetermined number of steps. With enough little steps, you can get just about anywhere. Except the moon, and for that, you must fly.

January 17, 2007 at 08:45 PM · Greetings,

Emily, for heaven"s sake! Haven't you figured out Al yet????

He goes to the moon and then comes on line and asks how he did it.

cheers,

Buri

January 17, 2007 at 09:33 PM · Emily, a couple points first: I just recalled all my blonde friends from Japan, and replaced them with a prune factory. ARGH Buri!.

I'm in the middle of Suzuki 3, more or less, but that is misleading. I practice technical stuff for about two hours every night--uh, every single night. Wohlfahrt, others. I've slowed my Suzuki consumption down, because from Boccherini forward, I'll be playing that stuff for the rest of my life. (I'm in love with the Boccherini--my first major goal set a couple years ago)

I take lessons once a month from someone 'really' qualified, because I have to drive 3 grueling hours, but I'm so motivated, I feel she's 1 part coach, 1 part teacher.

I then play standards and interpret things from the 30's - 70's (from "Laura's Theme" {Dr. Chivago}, Wedding Album type stuff to "Bridge Over Troubled Water") Uh, Vieuxtemps may be in order.

Currently, my approach beyond what/if my teacher tells me to do something, is I've taken 'all' the elements from Violin Masterclasses, and several from Calvin Sieb, like 'Loure' and a few more as part of my technical routine, and practice each nightly. I also do other reccomended bowing exercises learned elsewhere like the long slow bow strokes over 45 secs--and recently started integrating that with a De Lay bow pressure concept.

My 3rd and 6th double stops are coming online to the point where I can play slowly in them up to about 5th; and, it appears they will improve signficantly over the next few months. I just pulled in the piano to do some of the thinking for me on these--and it's way effective.

Vibrato is finally maturing nicely, though again slowly. And transposition on violin---I can tell I'm going to be a natural.

I play other instruments(piano, guitar, banjo, others less...), so the music part of violin is pretty easy. The mechanical part--I'd rather fight my ugly oversize brother than do it again, now that it's coming along--just kidding. It's been that grueling though because I started with a bad injury in my left hand and it took 'over' a year to recover it--'on every instrument'.

But, the main point I think, is I truly love violin, as evil as it has been in handing out humiliation after humiliation--I didn't even know I had that in me. uh, I'd rather be watching football, so this point is phenomonal.

Overall, I'm just at that point in some ways, I think because of my southpaw but maybe not, where the awkwardness is beginning to fade, and little tiny things are coming online weekly. Things like: I'm learning to control the bow alot better and use my pinky as an ally in bow pressue, my detache is stabilizing nicely and my elbow is doing it's part, my bow changes are becoming instinctive, I'm controlling my sounding point, my string crossings are not so rough (thanks to Hilary Hahn), and those types of things.

Number two: Don't believe what Buri says about me.

tks for asking, al

January 17, 2007 at 11:56 PM · Greetings,

everything I say about Al is true, just stranger than fiction.

Al. I wrote a blog for you!

Cheers,

Buri

January 18, 2007 at 02:16 AM · let me go read this before I respond ;).

January 18, 2007 at 02:25 AM · Buri, thanks for your blog remarks. My practice routinely runs into 4 hours, and not rarely over 5. The technical stuff is just for discipline. The first time I heard Paganinin 1, I felt as you imaged. I mellowed this perception of intricate techniques just strung together, but not completly.

The boy's got rhythm, and the boy's got music buddy--just stay tuned.

Finally, yes, I am recalling Sharon as well! ;)

al

January 18, 2007 at 03:36 AM · Greetings,

isn`t there somwway you could get sharon to discipline you?

Sort of killing two birds with one Stone?

Cheers,

Buri

January 18, 2007 at 04:08 AM · I still have much work to do--was that really necessary! Running a little late tonight--I'll just use the adreneline now.

January 18, 2007 at 04:18 AM · testosterone?

January 18, 2007 at 05:02 AM · Buri, Buri, Buri.... No more computers and Sake for you!.

January 18, 2007 at 05:07 AM · As I was saying to Emily, before Buri started insulting my supermodel friends:

Emily,

I'm in the middle of Suzuki 3, more or less, but that is misleading. I practice technical stuff for about two hours every night--uh, every single night. Wohlfahrt, others. I've slowed my Suzuki consumption down, because from Boccherini forward, I'll be playing that stuff for the rest of my life. (I'm in love with the Boccherini--my first major goal set a couple years ago)

I take lessons once a month from someone 'really' qualified, because I have to drive 3 grueling hours, but I'm so motivated, I feel she's 1 part coach, 1 part teacher.

I then play standards and interpret things from the 30's - 70's (from "Laura's Theme" {Dr. Chivago}, Wedding Album type stuff to "Bridge Over Troubled Water") Uh, Vieuxtemps may be in order.

Currently, my approach beyond what/if my teacher tells me to do something, is I've taken 'all' the elements from Violin Masterclasses, and several from Calvin Sieb, like 'Loure' and a few more as part of my technical routine, and practice each nightly. I also do other reccomended bowing exercises learned elsewhere like the long slow bow strokes over 45 secs--and recently started integrating that with a De Lay bow pressure concept.

My 3rd and 6th double stops are coming online to the point where I can play slowly in them up to about 5th; and, it appears they will improve signficantly over the next few months. I just pulled in the piano to do some of the thinking for me on these--and it's way effective.

Vibrato is finally maturing nicely, though again slowly. And transposition on violin---I can tell I'm going to be a natural.

I play other instruments(piano, guitar, banjo, others less...), so the music part of violin is pretty easy. The mechanical part--I'd rather fight my ugly oversize brother than do it again, now that it's coming along--just kidding. It's been that grueling though because I started with a bad injury in my left hand and it took 'over' a year to recover it--'on every instrument'.

But, the main point I think, is I truly love violin, as evil as it has been in handing out humiliation after humiliation--I didn't even know I had that in me. uh, I'd rather be watching football, so this point is phenomonal.

Overall, I'm just at that point in some ways, I think because of my southpaw but maybe not, where the awkwardness is beginning to fade, and little tiny things are coming online weekly. Things like: I'm learning to control the bow alot better and use my pinky as an ally in bow pressue, my detache is stabilizing nicely and my elbow is doing it's part, my bow changes are becoming instinctive, I'm controlling my sounding point, my string crossings are not so rough (thanks to Hilary Hahn), and those types of things.

Number two: Don't believe what Buri says about me.

tks for asking, al

January 18, 2007 at 06:03 AM · When I started with the violin, I had the aim to play Bach's Adagio one day (the one from Sonata no. 1 for solo violin). I remember in the early months, I tried to learn the notes of the first phrase. I played it terribly, but I played the phrase every time before I start my practise, and/or before I put down the violin after practice.

7 years later (last year), I thought maybe I should try to play more than a few bars just to see how far I could go. I ended up playing the whole movement and was so excited I kept repeating it for 6 hours!

So yes, your goal is very realistic, and it may not be as long as you might expect before you can play the prelude.

January 18, 2007 at 06:41 AM · Man, William!. Not for me, but for you--that's cool!.

A little background (I hope to keep this short). I didn't intend on playing violin (went for guitar strings, left with beginner's v.set). Similarly, I never really set goals other than sticking with Suzuki and wherever else I needed to go along the way. Only sort of abstract goals were floating around in my mind like E. European--actually that's about the only one--and it's still there.

So, a couple weeks ago, I finished my 1st major S-goal by literally jamming through Boccherini--the end of Suzuki II. I couldn't believe it came that easy--I even skipped over to S3 for a couple songs because I was teasing myself. And I have it sounding nice for having only played it a week or so. (So I can relate to your Bach piece--if I had time, I'd continue playing it over and over--but I had to break that habit--one that I know well.)

And over the last couple months, with the help of a very very talented coach, all these things just kept coming online (also help from this site). This discussion has helped me visualize a couple things: patience for one. And, I think I'll watch Mistein do the partita for a loooonnnng time, as I continue to develop developmentally.

It's good to have folks around me who knows what it means that my violin collapses me in the floor while she sleeps in my bed!. I can't regret not starting earlier in life, nor do I even feel inclined to contemplate what if. Nor do I even really feel any satisfaction that I won't ever have the pressures of younger people wanting to make it a career--as consuming as it is. But it does help to be able to talk about long term goals like this because violin is such a dramatically intense experience for me--and I'm the antithesis of dramatic. (scientific, loves trigonometry and higher math, ...)

I recently found that Fiocco and other goals like Double Bach, are part of my Suzuki track, and that helps me keep the boat from swaying some, but when I saw Milstein doing the partita: (breathes deeply--swears to rest). ;).

January 18, 2007 at 07:19 AM · I don't tell anyone my goals with the violin because they'll probably laugh at me... at the end of the day, I'll either reach them or I won't, and then I won't look like a fool for exposing myself.

January 18, 2007 at 07:09 AM · I'm also an obsessed adult beginner and loving it -- I will celebrate my two year anniversary in February. My goal has always been to play the Tchaikovsky concerto by my fifth year of study, and play it well enough that an audience might actually enjoy hearing it. I'm not sure if this is at all realistic, but there it is. I'm currently working on Kreisler's Praeludium and Allegro, which is coming along nicely. Am I being unrealistic?

January 18, 2007 at 07:30 AM · Pieter and Anthony,

Pieter, I don't either in general, but here I do. Beyond that though, it's ok not to be perfect and to struggle I think. Call it naive, but I've always just put myself out there--I simply don't care really on a deep level what others think. Community means just being yourself. I remember in the earlier days of the internet, how people were always using facades in communities. There's other places on the net that are maturing nicely as well now.

Anthony, I just keep plugging along and staying on track. I don't have any lofty ideas or anything; and, at least a little in the spirit of what Pieter said, I just take progress as it comes--with 'a lot' of hard work. Before I downloaded the internet, I created humble pie!. ;)

January 18, 2007 at 03:43 PM · Hi Anthony, when I was twelve I heard the Tchaik concerto for the first time, live, and became completely enamored with it. Is the five year mark specifically important?

Also, what you have is OCVD (Obsessive-Compulsive Violin Disorder), of which there is no cure. Most of my adult students have it, to various degrees, although I must say that I haven't seen a severe a case as Mr. Al's for ten years.

January 18, 2007 at 07:10 PM · Ah, Miss Anne, may I have a double case--no triple!.

p.s. I'm as crazy about farming too!. ;).

January 19, 2007 at 06:42 AM · Hi Anne,

The five year mark is significant only because I picked it out of thin air. Yeah I have it bad, maybe even as bad as Al. OCD applied to violin, can be a good thing, right? I keep thinking, If only I'd started this at age 4, I coulda been a contenda.

January 19, 2007 at 03:55 PM · Anthony, I asked about the five year goal because I am always curious about what makes different people tick. I personally work best with a specific deadline, but what I have found in practicing towards my own set goals, my timeline can go a bit squiggley. Sometimes when I am working on a new piece, I am suprised how quickly I am able to absorb it and move on, and other times...it takes a little longer than I expected.

Five years is really exciting and ambitious, and with consistent, patient work, who knows? Good luck!

As for OCVD, well, it takes one to know one.

Mr. Al, please, don't temper your enthusiasm. It is very inspiring.

January 19, 2007 at 09:59 PM · Anne,

I agree with you about deadlines, they are very important to me for maintaining focus and increasing practice efficiency and productivity, even when entirely self-imposed. Without them, a more meandering course might be deemed acceptable, though not for those of us with full-blown OCVD.

Cheers,

ab

January 19, 2007 at 10:27 PM · Thanks Anne--I just sowed my cole crops, and have a dozen early tomatos started. Things are about to get really busy--but I do best under those circumstances.

Now--off to make priority lists.

January 20, 2007 at 04:27 AM · Oh Bach! Believe or not, Partita b was my last year's goal and now I think it'll be a five-year goal if I'm lucky. The Allemanda looked pretty doable to me at first and I practiced it a couple of weeks, then it just came clear to me that I hit the wall/roof. I wasn't so much as afraid of the technical difficulties as I was afraid of ruining the music. Al, the music part is really tough. Appearntly there are more than one voices in these solo pieces and I was told to separate the different voices first. Now I find Kreutzer etudes are way more satisfying to study than any other pieces.

January 20, 2007 at 05:30 AM · I hear ya Yixi--that's why I began with 'really' long term goal... I have at least three more years basics before I even revisit it in my mind--not to mention Double Bach, Fiocco, and Seitz....

Nonetheless, I do intend on listening to it every day between now and then, and watching Milstein do it. Can't never could?

Anyway, I hope to do Kreutzer too one day--I've heard great things about it--but one must walk before they can run. Currently, I'm putting some more left hand work in place hopefully in lieu of that day.

Incidently, sorry about spelling your name wrong in another post ("when can one stop taking lessons"). My eyes aren't the best.

January 20, 2007 at 06:29 AM · Hey Al, no worries about the name-spelling. Xixi is cute and if I ever have a website, I'll call it "Xixi.com". So, pay attention everyone, this name is taken!

January 20, 2007 at 06:40 AM · Actually, it really is taken--it's Chinese I think. ;)....

Wakada nai...

January 20, 2007 at 11:05 PM · Mr. Justice

You are one of my greatest inspiration. Plse keep on posting, everytime you make me want to practice more.

By the way how can you manage to practice 5hrs? do you sleep? I want to know your tricks so I can manage my schedule better and practice that much, then maybe when I will be 150 years old I will be able to play something. (Yes I'm not soo good)

Any way thousands of thanks, you are really a great inspiration!

January 21, 2007 at 02:02 AM · Thanks for you kind words Mr. Brabant--I have no secrets to share unfortunately--I do reorder my priorities and have a block of time I practice come heck or high water.

Even when we have company, I'll try and sneak off to practice a few hours. It can be done.

Also, I didn't say I play well either! ;).... Just keep practicing.

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