Danielle’s Report Card – Month 1Posted: March 27, 2011
Well, one whole month has passed since Ryan began this incredible journey. How much progress has he made? I’d like to approach answering this question in two parts.
As far as tackling the Paganini, he has now learned the Theme and the first halves of Variations 2 and 3, albeit quite under tempo. As far as his progress in mastering the entire piece, he has a long long long way to go. In fact, it’s quite daunting. (Especially when I think about the upcoming variations with tenths and thirds – yikes!) I expect we will start moving along faster after he has some experience. However–and this is a big However–what he has accomplished thus far is quite extraordinary.
This leads me to the second half of my answer. It’s extremely rare that a beginning violin student would practice two hours a day, and sometimes more, in his or her first month on the instrument. I think beginners, even adults, usually max out at about 30 minutes, due to lack of concentration and sometimes simply to rest their sore muscles! I also have never seen someone, even an agile young kid, play with such a straight bow and clear tone. Of course, he makes some scratches here and there, but relatively speaking, he sounds like he’s been playing at least a year already. He’s playing a three octave scale, complete with shifts up in the stratosphere sans tapes, and honestly, it’s not that bad. I think that is more than I could ever ask for right now. Ryan clearly doesn’t have perfect pitch, but I think his ear is magnificent for someone who has never had training.
So, in a nutshell, Paganini is rough going now, but I expect it to pick up speed now that he’s getting more comfortable with some basics like bowing, simple shifting, and string crossings. I do have a plan, believe it or not, and it will work.
Do I think Ryan will be successful? Yes. Even though he’s pretty scruffy now, he has many of the qualities it takes to become a fine violinist. He has a good enough ear, a lot of patience and discipline, brainpower, and pretty good hand-eye coordination. I attribute these qualities, in order, to good genes, the Air Force Academy, teaching Math, and video games.
His grade? I’ll be a stickler. B+.