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.

More variation 1

It’s funny how different I think I’m playing is compared to how I’m actually playing.  To be honest, the videos I keep subjecting myself to are probably, in and of themselves, helping this little cause of mine.  Oftentimes, I’ll watch a video of myself later and be surprised either in a good or bad way.  Tonight was a particularly glaring example.

I incorporated the spiccato into the first variation how it’s supposed to be played.  With the violin on my shoulder, I knew I wasn’t playing it up to tempo, like Danielle did in the last post, but I thought I was playing it kind of fast.


After watching the video, like a football player watching game tape, I was stunned at how slowly I played it.  It’s weird; while playing I felt like I was flying, but when watching it, I feel like I was dragging.  I wonder if this is a common phenomenon.

That one being the best gives you a rough idea of how all of the previous ones sounded.  Oh well.  As is a common theme throughout this blog, room for improvement isn’t a bad thing.


And I’m back

I thought it would be pretty awesome for the blog to go back east to Delaware for a few days.  Now, the wedding was great.  Hanging out with old friends, catching up, and watching a good buddy get married were all worth the price of admission, but the violin part of the trip was a little disappointing.  I originally imagined myself practicing every day and even getting a recording or two of myself playing in the hotel room with the mute on or something.

That, clearly, did not happen.  In a way, it’s surprising and not surprising how little time I actually had to practice.  On the day of the actual wedding, in order to get a good 45 minutes of playing time in, I had to duck out of the reception–although I did wait until the open bar switched over to a cash bar.

So I’m back.  I didn’t touch my violin yesterday, as I traveled back across the country, so I was worried about how much my hands were going to hurt when I picked it up today.  According to Danielle, sometimes a break can hurt, and sometimes it can help.  I was in a mode where I was playing a lot (for me) everyday, and my hands hurt on a daily basis.  Today, though, my hands didn’t hurt at all.  I hope that the little break over the past few days gave my hands some much needed rest.  Hopefully, they won’t be on fire tomorrow.

Today, it was back to the grind as Danielle set out a goal for me.  In two weeks, she wants me to be able to play through the theme and first three variations.  Now, I’ve played through the theme and variation 3 recently, and variation 2 a while ago, only nowhere near tempo and without those grace notes that give me so many problems.  Variation 1, however, is untouched.

Here’s a look at it:

See those dots above a lot of the notes?  That means they are played with spiccato.  Spiccato is a technique where you produce short notes by throwing the bow.  What does this mean?  Here’s Danielle playing the first three measures:

See how she throws the bow, creating short choppy notes?  That’s how this variation is supposed to be played.  Oh, and she was using my violin there (she doesn’t play with tapes!).

To go about learning this one, we again tackle it from two different angles.  First, I practice spaccato by playing it on open strings and then in scales:

After the way I set that up, did you think that video would be more exciting?  That makes two of us.  That’s all the spaccato I have right now; this is a technique that demands a LOT more practice.

The second avenue to play this is to play the notes without the spaccato.  Here I play it with slurs:

Right after this, Danielle suggested that I shift while playing the open string so I don’t have that ugly pause in there.  I try to make it a little more connected:

As I posted this, Danielle overheard and asked, “is that the best one we had?”  Unfortunately, yes.  For now.