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.

Yeah, I’m stubborn

It’s been a good couple of violin days.  Yesterday I practiced for over 4 hours, which is a pretty big day for me.  Danielle gave me a mini lesson last night and this morning Elbert (I’ve talked about Elbert, right?  Oh yeah, last post…) gave me a lesson.  I did a bunch of stuff in each lesson, but I’ve been wanting to post something about variation 3, so darn it, that’s exactly what I’m going to do!  (even though I’m not posting a complete gem, but oh well–that’s where the stubborn part comes in)

So during my lesson with Danielle, I played this:

There’s always positives and negatives.  I finish up pretty well in this one, but there are a couple of hangups.  The move to the high A is really messy, and there’s another hangup a little later, but I finish up well and begin relatively well.  After this, Danielle worked with me a bit on that high A move, to make it more of a slide.  It worked OK last night, but when I watched the rest of the video, we just talked the whole time.  I guess I didn’t get the improved high A move on tape.

So this morning I had a lesson with Elbert.  First, I was super nervous, much more nervous than I thought I would be.  Second, after I left the Luzerne dining hall after breakfast, I used one of those purell squirter things to clean off my hands and it kind of made my hands sticky.  I know, excuses excuses, but still, it didn’t help.

Luckily, those hangups just really hurt the first few things I played.  Elbert wanted to hear everything to see where I was and to decide on what we were going to work on, so I started with the theme and variation 2.  Those two really sucked.  By the time I got to variation 3, I had settled down a little and my fingers started to feel a bit more normal.  Here’s my variation 3:

Again, not perfect, but the shift to the high A is a little better.  I like this playing, other than the beginning.  The second C sounds like a kazoo and there are a few parts that are flat, but not horrible considering.  I talked to Elbert about that and he said that’s what being a musician is all about.  You can practice and practice, but every performance you have one shot at it.

Oh yeah, one more thing about this playing:  do you notice my left hand thumb?  Danielle’s not going to be ecstatic about seeing that, but sometimes is creeps up like that.  She wants me to keep it right under my first finger as I shift.  It’s funny, because right before this lesson Elbert and Danielle were talking and Danielle mentioned that exact thing.  Elbert then told a story about how Dorothy DeLay used to say that you can have your thumb wherever you want.  No, I’m not trying to start a rebellion–I just messed up in that video.  I’m trying to keep my thumb under control (like everything else).

I taped the entire lesson with Elbert.  There’s a 45 minute video to weed through, but I’ll go through it and post an edited video like I did with the Simone lesson.  That’s the nice thing about having a blog–people willing to give free lessons.

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2 Comments on “Yeah, I’m stubborn”

  1. Kirstin Peltz says:

    Ryan, I’m a cellist, so I can’t speak to the intricacies of the violin like your master teacher/wife can, but I can say that I am very impressed with your tenacity and your musicianship! My only comment (for good or for ill) is that as a tall person myself, it’s important to continue breathing to prevent your shoulders from tensing/freezing. Keep up the good work with your long tones, and try not to be a “Speedy Gonzales”, as Danielle mentions. Looking forward to reading/hearing more of your progress!

    • rrvaughn says:

      Hey Kirstin,
      Yeah, when I practice for a long time at once, over an hour or so, my back tends to hurt. Sarah Sutton, a violist at Center Stage Strings (Danielle’s camp) suggested that I don’t clench my butt when playing and try to bend knees on the up bows. Perhaps tight shoulders also wears out my unfortunate back.
      Thanks for the comment!


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