Minor SuccessesPosted: March 12, 2011
I have to admit, I’m a difficult student. That’s not to say I’m a bad student, just difficult. I do have lots going for me, like practicing multiple times a day and my overall ridiculously high amount of raw, natural talent.
During lessons, though, I have a ton of questions and Danielle gets on my case whenever I stop playing to say anything. In her words: “You’re not allowed to stop playing whenever you want. That’s not how this works. You play when I tell you to play and I will help you when you need help.”
Here’s my point of all this. I’ve sat in on some of Danielle’s lessons over the years and I’ve been to many of her master classes and when she started teaching me, I imagined her being this total stickler, pulling me kicking and screaming through violin mediocrity and tossing me out polished and perfect.
Now, I’m not saying that’s not going to happen. Anything’s possible, but sometimes when I expect her to be giving me all these tips and telling me how to put my hand here and my bow arm there, she just wants me to muddle through a piece. In other words, I thought she’d stop me more when I suck, but instead, she wants me to always keep playing. I’m not trying to be the teacher here, but in my head our lessons would go differently–I imagine the lessons to be more like military boot camp (which I’ve actually been through).
So the other day I’m playing for her, limping through the Kreutzer etude, when I stop playing. She, of course, yells at me to keep playing (I use the term yell liberally). I tell her that I’m getting frustrated with how it sounds when I change strings – it seems like I can hear the string I just played on while I’m playing the new string. You can hear what I’m talking about:
So she tells me this technique of keeping the finger down on the old string until after you start playing the new string, and then let go of the old string. Wow. So much better. After a little practice, I actually shot this myself:
Fine, it’s a little boring as I just play that same passage over and over, but the string changes are cleaner, wouldn’t you say? Hey, I said minor success, not major breakthrough!