wlotus: (Violin II)
[livejournal.com profile] acoustics1220 has been kind enough to draw upon her violin teaching experience to give me encouragement and advice as I get properly reacquainted with the instrument. Today I printed out her detailed instructions from a private message, set my music stand up in front of my mirror, and began looking for the things she suggested I work on.

First order of business: training my bow arm and hand to keep the bow centered between the bridge and the fingerboard, rather than traveling up and down that space willy-nilly like it has been doing. I think today will be full of bow exercise intervals, to get used to this new discipline.

At least Minuet in G (greatly slowed down) sounds less like a cat is being murdered in my home. :-)
wlotus: (Violin)
I've been shuffling through my old violin music looking for pieces I can work on to improve my fingering. I found Bach's Minuet in G and am doing quite well to butcher it. *ahem* Anyway, I found a set of sheet music with the name and address of the last youth orchestra conductor I sat under, Mr. Oscar Ravina. I have fond memories of his kindness when I expressed my fear that I was holding the orchestra back with my lack of skills. Rather than dismissing me as I'd asked/hoped he would or ignoring me as I feared he would, he privately assured my mother and me that I only needed private instruction in order to bring me up to speed. I may not have received that private instruction, but I never forgot him. I also remember that under him I was exposed to the beauty that is Bach's Brandenburg Concertos; we performed the first movement of Concerto No. 5 the year I made it to the advanced orchestra. So when I stumbled upon his name, I plugged him into Google to see what came up.

My faint memories of someone saying he was associated with the NY Philharmonic were correct. He was a violinist with them for 40 years. He also suffered an acute stroke in 2003--my heart stopped when I read that!--but with therapy he has been able to resume teaching violin. He is also far younger than I imagined; he is only about 80 years old, now.

If I had the resources and he was accepting new students, I would get the lessons from him now that I was not able to get then. At the very least, I may write to him to thank him for his kindness to a frustrated teen and let him know I am picking the instrument up after a 22-year hiatus.

Now, back to doing unspeakable things to Minuet in G.
wlotus: (Music)
This morning I practiced my violin for 30 minutes. How do I know when I sound decent and not like I am skinning my cat? To me, the notes sound forced and scratchy, nothing like the string section of the NY Philharmonic. But overly critical self-assessment aside, I enjoyed making the music...even if I felt shy doing so. (In spite of being at home alone, wtf????) I mostly did scales to wake up my muscle memory. Since the shoulder rest takes the pressure of the instrument off my hands, I have started using my fourth finger, instead of open strings. Granted, my pinky is far weaker than my other fingers, but I have the freedom to learn to use it, now. I still find myself gripping too hard with my thumb out of habit, though, and that causes cramps. I guess my thumb has to get used to not having to work so hard. :-) That's some muscle memory I need to unlearn.

While my scales sound decent, my arpeggios and anything that requires me to skip notes, particularly when moving from string to string, are scratchy. I think I'll work on that, tomorrow. I even ventured a little into the third position, but I have to unlearn my thumb grip to smoothly make the transition. I don't have the finger speed I used to have in first position, either, but I know that will come back, in time.

I tried to study today, but I was too wiped out. I thought I had gotten a full night's sleep, but I must have been mistaken. Tonight will be an early night.
wlotus: (Photography II)
Volusia has saddlebags (hips)!

Back view of Volusia with saddlebags


Volusia's saddlebags


We took Volusia out on the highway today for about 60 miles. It was wonderful to have saddlebags to carry the chain and cover, so we wouldn't have to run them upstairs before leaving on our ride. And I happily put my purse into the saddlebags, instead of wearing it draped across my chest for the ride. The bags fit the bike's style very well. We're quite pleased.

Next up, a windshield!

At the start of our ride we stopped at Sam Ash, where I picked up both a shoulder rest for my violin and a job application. I'll walk my application over there tomorrow and see what comes of it.

The shoulder rest is a godsend! For my entire musical life, I have not been comfortable holding the violin. I could never understand how anyone could put the violin on their shoulder without it sagging; mine always sagged, and no amount of clamping (cramping) down with my chin would keep the violin in place. I snapped the shoulder rest on this afternoon, and presto: no more violin sagging! No more cramping fingers trying to hold the violin with the same fingers I need to play the notes! No more sagging wrist in an attempt to keep the instrument in place! My grasp is entirely comfortable and natural, as if by magic. Who knew all it would take was $10?

Since I am rusty with the finger placement, I've taped the first, third, and fourth finger positions on the fingerboard. This week I intend to play a little every day to begin building my finger strength back up. It helps that I'll be at home alone; I can work on playing with confidence without having an audience, too. :-) But T says I don't sound bad; I practiced the first eight measures of Canon in D, and she likes it.

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