Don’t push backPosted: June 20, 2011
The Center Stage Strings music camp is about half done. As you can probably imagine, it’s incredibly busy as I’m the taxi driver/recreation director/dishwasher/do-whatever-else-I’m-told-to-do-er. Of course, you’re probably thinking that I’m using the camp as an excuse as I haven’t posted anything in a while, but to tell the truth, the camp is only partly to blame.
I was eavesdropping the other day on our chamber music coordinator, Diego Miralles, as he talked to another parent. Diego’s daughter Ava studies with Danielle and attends the camp. The parent asked Diego if he was coaching Ava’s chamber group, and he responded with a firm, hard no. Why? As he put it, it’s difficult to coach or teach your own kids because when you try to push them, they push right back!
As you can probably imagine, Danielle and my lessons are sort of like that. I try not to be too much of a pain, but it’s frightfully easy to become frustrated with the violin and when you’re not scared of your teacher, or at least the smallest amount afraid of offending him or her, then it’s easy to push right back. Unfortunately, in order to perform at any level on this instrument, it’s necessary to be pushed to the limit, and perhaps I need to let Danielle push harder.
One of the main ways I haven’t listened to her as much as I should have is with this blog. The blog is a major part of this project, and she’s been telling me for a while that I should concentrate on the journey more than the destination. In other words, I would be so focused on posting a video of me playing part of the actual piece, or a scale, or whatever that I would post nothing for days if I didn’t have something ready. Unfortunately, at this point, I don’t make as much progress than at first, and it would be impossible to only post parts of the piece. It might be a month between posts. In fact, variation 2 sent me over the edge. I pounded away at that variation day after day and never got anything good enough to post. I wanted to throw myself into the raging river before one of the faculty members told me that any of these talented students here would also be having problems with this piece. Of course, I don’t know if that should make me feel heartened or really, really scared.
So now I’m going to try to practice more efficiently by tackling more exercises and focusing more on the difficult parts over and over and not just muddle through each section from the beginning each time.
With that in mind, Danielle showed me the other day an exercise to help with the ending to variation 2:
Now, Danielle’s a great teacher, but her camerawork leaves a lot to be desired. In case you couldn’t tell, that exercise involves playing the first finger in first position on the A string, then sliding up to third position and playing the third and second fingers on the A string then the first finger on the D string. The exercise focuses on the shift, not playing the first finger, then playing the third and second before the first on the D string.
Here’s a little better example:
It’s played a little slowly, but apparently my intonation was good.