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.

Just like Jodie Foster

So I’m still on my quest to play the theme and the first three variations all in a row, nice and tidy, without tapes.  Yesterday and today I’ve been working on variation 3 and it’s, well it’s uh, well let’s just say it’s tough.  Remember when I played (sorta) variation 3 a couple of weeks ago?  I didn’t realize just how much I depended on those tapes.

The bad news in this variation is that every note is really two notes – an octave.  The good news is that I only have to slide up and down the G and D strings.  That’s sort of good news, good that I don’t have to jump over to the D & A or A & E strings, but the problem with sliding up and down is that you don’t have your other fingers to gauge off of, so hitting notes is a bit like guessing.  Of course, here’s where having a good ear comes in handy.

Do I have a good ear?  I don’t know.  I can tell you that I have a much, much better ear than when I started playing the violin and that it’s improved dramatically since I removed the violin tapes.  But good?  I’m just not sure.

I keep mentioning those confounded tapes.  Does it sound like I’m obsessed with them?  Let me put it this way.  Have you seen Silence of the Lambs?  Do you remember the end when Clarice (Jodie Foster) goes down into that basement after Buffalo Bill?  You see, I’m Jodie Foster and the violin is Buffalo Bill.  When she first goes after him, the lights are on – that’s when my tapes were on.  It was still scary, as she didn’t know exactly where he was, but at least she could see!  Then, of course, Buffalo Bill put on those night vision goggles and turned off the lights, so it was completely dark.  That’s how I feel now, wandering around in the pitch blackness while my violin watches me with silent amusement as I bump into things and feel around and wonder when my violin is going to pull the trigger and end my miserable existence.

Is that dramatic?

You decide.  Here’s me attempting the entire variation:

I don’t quite look comfortable, do I?  Along with the loss of tapes, that also has to do with octaves in and of themselves being really hard.  Like they say, with practice comes comfort.  Do they say that?  Even if they don’t, hopefully it’s true anyway.

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2 Comments on “Just like Jodie Foster”

  1. Jackie says:

    First of all I love this blog. I applaud your effort and tenacity. I teach beginning strings and I am fascinated by your progress. That being said, based on this latest video I think you should put the tapes back on. There is no shame in that. You are still trying to train your ears and muscle memory.

  2. Jean says:

    Danielle will have said that already, but you should first practice it without the octaves, just with your first finger sliding up and down the G-string. That in itself is already hard enough, even for me, I am an amateur playing the violin daily, so I more or less know where all my notes are, still it is requires serious practice for me to hit the notes in their exact spots. Bon courage!


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