I’ve given myself one year to master the violin.

As an adult beginner, I should be playing Twinkle Twinkle; instead, I'm playing Paganini's 24th caprice.


So I haven’t posted for a couple of days.  There is a reason for this besides laziness I promise.  When I posted last, we made the video of me playing some of the first variation.  During that shoot, Danielle actually had me play on another violin (she has them lying around), and of course this violin didn’t have the fingerboard tapes on it.  It wasn’t too bad without the tapes, and in fact, the posted video was without fingerboard tapes.

You probably know where this is going; the tapes came off that night.  Honestly, it has been like taking 12 step backwards in the last few days.  I”ve mostly been doing scales, very meticulous scales, checking open strings every time up and down while trying to stay in tune.  As close to in tune as I can anyway.  What has been interesting, however, is usually when I concentrate on one thing, everything else tends to fly out the window, but lately I’ve noticed my sound is quite nice on the scales.  Of course that also might be a result of me taking them considerably slower as I transition to the land of no training wheels, but it’s nice nonetheless.

What I’m getting at with all this is that I don’t have a video of me playing the violin.  But the kazoo–well!

For mother’s day, Danielle and I came up to her parents’ in Three Rivers CA (right outside Sequoia national park) for the weekend.  I suppose I could blame my lack of video on the trip as well since travelling always throws me out of whack.  But oh well.  The trip up here had another purpose:  Danielle held a recital as the final concert of the season put on by the Three Rivers Performing Arts Institute.

Three Rivers is a wonderful little town of about 2000 people nestled in the mountains.  Danielle started a music camp last summer called Center Stage Strings and this town has eaten it up.  They love their classical music and before team Danielle rolled into town, there was somewhat of a lack of classical music performances in Three Rivers itself.  So Center Stage Strings and the Three Rivers Performing Arts Institute came into existence and for the last year has filled this musical gap.  Whenever either the Institute or the camp puts on a concert, they fill the hall (a church here with very good sound) to capacity of about 250 people.  Not bad, considering it’s over one tenth of the town!

Several works featured on the recital were Lawrence Dillon pieces that Danielle played on the CD she just released.  One of them is called “Fifteen Minutes” and is a collection of 16 movements with names like Distractions, Runaway, Memory, and Self Absorption.  One of the movements is called Dissonance and, which you might be able to guess with that name, features a violin and kazoo playing in unison.  When putting the recital together, the kazoo player was still up in the air, but with my recent stint with the violin, I got the nod.

After three run-throughs (I can hardly call them rehearsals) Danielle felt I was ready.  Last night was the concert, and it was another typical Three Rivers full house.  They sat me strategically up front so I could jump up on stage for my movement and then sit back down for the rest of the piece.  Danielle’s dad Rudy recorded this from the side of the stage, so it’s not the best angle, but you get a nice little crowd view at the end:

Did you notice the little chuckle from the crowd at the beginning of the piece?  That was from Danielle telling me to face the audience.  If you see me looking at the music while playing, I’m actually not faking it.  This was the first time I actually needed the music.  It’s funny, while playing, I couldn’t tell you necessarily what note I was on, but I could tell the relative distances between notes to (hopefully) hit the right one.  Also, this piece was designed that the violin and kazoo play the exact same notes together at the same time, so oftentimes I just listened to Danielle and replicated the notes she played.

It was the first time I’d actually played with Danielle, certainly during a concert, and it was a lot of fun.  People asked me afterwards if we would play a violin duet next year.  We’ll see.

Photo courtesy Geoff Glass.


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