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.

The lesson with Elbert

So I’m finally getting around to putting up something about my lesson with Elbert.  I videoed the entire lesson (about 45 minutes) and edited it down to a little under 5 minutes of highlights.

Video editing is a pain in the butt.

Or maybe that’s just an excuse as to why I’m posting this a week after the lesson.  Either way, here it is!  First though, let me say a quick couple of words before you watch.  Elbert is a buddy of mine, so at times it might sound like he’s being a smartass or giving me a hard time, and I just want to make it clear that he’s (probably) not like that with all of his students.

See what I’m talking about?  I could have edited out him giving me a hard time (maybe he would have preferred it!) but I left them in for two reasons.  First, they’re kind of funny.  Second, and more importantly, they lead to a point I would like to make about doing a little project like this:  you have to have thick skin.  When learning something new, especially something inherently frustrating like an instrument, it’s essential to take it seriously, yet at the same time with a grain of salt.  I think that it’s pretty important not to wrap up my personal self worth with how I’m playing the violin at the time; if I did, I’d be in the fetal position crying in the corner my entire life.


Sarah Chang

Remember me talking about Liz Pitcairn giving that master class at Center Stage Strings (Danielle’s camp)?  Well, Liz is the artistic director of Luzerne Music Center and is friends with Sarah Chang (yes, THE Sarah Chang).  Liz asked Sarah to give a benefit concert here at the camp and Sarah was happy to do it.

The concert was last night, and as you can probably imagine, this week has been busy.  Sarah flew in on Monday and had her first rehearsal that afternoon.  She played Mendelssohn with the student orchestra, so it was a great experience for our campers to accompany a major soloist like Sarah Chang.  There was a second rehearsal on Tuesday and a third on Wednesday morning.  After the Wednesday rehearsal, she gave a great question and answer with the students and then set up shop for the students to have her sign CDs, pictures, their cases, metronomes, one camper even had her sign a chessboard!  I had never met her before, although I did see her perform in Aspen in 2008, so I didn’t know what to expect.  It turns out she’s an incredibly sweet person along with being a hell of a violinist.

The concert itself was awesome; the kids played great, stayed with her, and of course Sarah herself played amazingly.

After the concert there was a dinner with the patrons and many of the faculty members played chamber music.  While Danielle was playing, Sarah noticed something and talked to Danielle afterward.  After they were done talking, something was missing from Danielle’s violin.  It turns out that Sarah loved Danielle’s mute and Danielle ended up giving it to her!

Of course, this was no ordinary mute.  A friend of Danielle’s, Lauren Chipman, began making mutes, pegs, probably other string instrument paraphernalia with Swarovski crystals on them.  It’s called Baroque Bling and you can check them out here:  www.baroquebling.com.

So anyway, when Sarah showed up on Monday, of course I thought about the blog.  In my mind, I saw myself telling her all about it, her being extremely excited and then asking her for a lesson.  Well, as you can probably imagine, I chickened out, and that didn’t happen, but I did mention the blog and got a picture with her:

Sarah, if you’re reading this, you played beautifully and your presence was a great uplift for the entire camp.  (and if you ever find yourself in LA and want to give me a lesson, let me know…)