Group performance of Joy to the World
Gavotte by J.B. Lully, 2013 Violin Recital
Just got home from rehearsal for our recital tomorrow. It was so great to be around other violinists! When I was playing the Christmas songs with everyone I felt so motivated to really give it all my effort on the vibrato and making the violin “sing” and drawing the bow in long strokes, or however you would describe that. I really feel like my violin playing was better than usual! It was as if the talent in the room was a force flowing through me and my violin. It was cool.
I took Soleil because I would have been gone too long to be away from her and I was a little worried about how she would be when it was my turn and when we had to play as a group, but there was a lovely woman who held her for me while I played. I felt bad because she was trying to take pictures of her daughter but she said she enjoyed having time with a baby. Then another woman helped me out to my car with everything and said she really admired me for doing it with a newborn, and Paul told me I was a trooper. I wasn’t expecting to get all those props! To me it’s just normal life and I enjoy it so much I’m going to do what I have to do to make it work. It was really good for me to hear those things because normally I feel like I just do what I have to do each day to get by. The dishes go undone, Suri’s dinners are satisfactory but she doesn’t always get a balanced meal, she doesn’t always get as much outside time or stimulation that I’d like her to have, some days she watches too much tv, I rarely practice violin as much as I’d like, I rarely get enough work hours in, etc… My point is that I get down on myself feeling like every other mom does it better than I do with more going on but tonight I got a reminder that I do do a lot and that was nice.
I remember talking to Praveen after last year’s recital saying that all the families had something in common: they valued music education. Even though I’m not the typical violin student, I still feel a camaraderie with those kids. I recognized almost everyone from last year, and a few of them have gotten a lot better! I was watching Paul play Canon with one of the students and just watching his movements how they were so natural, there was something familiar about it and that’s when it came over me how nice it was to be in that room with all these violinists. They’re not all protégés, but they are violinists nonetheless, and I am one of them.
This journey is something that I am really on all on my own. No one in my personal life really knows anything about these experiences, so this weekend with the rehearsal and recital tomorrow is a great opportunity for a jump in my progress. Does that make sense?
I said before that all these families valued music education. I can tell you that I was not always an advocate! It’s hard to believe now, but I have always been a minimalist and I used to think for example if there had to be budget cuts, music and art should be the first things to go. I actually worked for a non-profit in high school and was in charge of preparing grant applications for the board meetings where they would decide which programs received grants. As I was working on a specific program about music for kids I was thinking, “there is no way this one will get it.” To my shock, all the board members were raving about it at the meeting and had it in the #1 spot! I don’t know what had me thinking that way, my upbringing or lack of appreciation for the years of piano lessons or just my “if it’s not necessary, get rid of it” attitude, but that’s the way I was. Something happened when I started taking violin lessons where it really started clicking for me and becoming interesting. The way I learned to read music, it’s something I was never able to do before. I had to say to myself “F-A-C-E” or “Every Good Boy Does Fine” every time to find the notes. I still don’t always know which note I’m looking at but I know where to put my finger on the string when I see it, and that is awesome to me. Think about it, it’s totally like reading another language! And opening up that part of my mind has given me clarity and focus in other areas as well. And there is SOOOO much more to learn, timing and harmony and tons more that I don’t know anything about yet. More to come on harmonizing and keys, I had a moment of clarity listening to “Wake Me Up” on the radio the other day :)
Have you guys seen all your friends posting “7 Interesting Facts About Me” and then if you “Like” it they give you a number and then you repost, etc…?
Well something interesting about me is that I can never think of a single interesting thing to say about myself except that I have a bunch of nieces and nephews. I once auditioned for America’s Next Top Model (I know) and the audition was to look at the camera, say your name, your height, and something interesting about yourself. I spent so much time thinking about that something interesting and up until the moment it was my turn I still didn’t know what to say, and luckily they changed the format and it wasn’t required. Anyway…I started thinking about it during church service today (I know) and actually came up with a few things you might find interesting. I didn’t post it on Facebook but here it is out in the world wide blogosphere.
18 Interesting Facts About Me
1. I became an Aunt for the first time when I was 7 and now have 4 nephews, 2 nieces, a great nephew and another great niece or nephew on the way.
2. At different points of time during my youth I had unhealthy obsessions with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Dominique Moceanu, the movie Titanic, and the band Oasis.
3. The 1996 Olympics inspired me to put on the “Janesville Olympics” with Laura and Alicia where we competed against the other neighborhood kids in several events. We even built a balance beam and stayed up the whole night before making medals and painting our nails red white and blue.
4. Other neighborhood events included a production of the play Sleeping Beauty, a carnival where we earned enough money to go to Lyons Beach, and the invention of a game called Splash Bucket.
5. I haven’t had a drink of alcohol in almost 7 years.
6. My favorite musician is Yanni. I’ve seen him live twice (it would have been 3 times but Suri was born that night, during the time of the concert) and both times have had significant impacts in my life.
7. I started taking violin lessons a little over a year ago. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done, even though it includes playing in recitals with a bunch of 6 year olds :)
8. I love Coca Cola.
9. I spent a month in Nepal when I was pregnant with Suri. Adventures included a 5-day trek in the Himalayas and a run-in with a dad and baby rhino.
10. I never get sick of watching Back to the Future.
11. I can sing the rap part to TLC’s Waterfalls.
12. Until I was a junior in high school I went to a very small private school where there were only ever 3-6 kids in my grade.
13. My favorite TV show is The Vampire Diaries, and I’ve been known to laugh, cry, and make enthusiastic comments to myself out loud while watching it.
14. We had a wood furnace growing up and every summer my dad would chop wood and we would play on the wood pile in our back yard (I sustained numerous injuries as a result).
15. I have been to a live taping of American Idol and Ryan Seacrest gave me a lingering low five.
16. I once auditioned for America’s Next Top Model. LOL!
17. I have traveled to 17 countries: USA, Mexico, Italy, Vatican City, Greece, Turkey, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, England, Spain, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Germany, France, Hong Kong, and Nepal.
18. I can read this ;)
Wow I haven’t posted in a long time. I’m still having ideas I just never take the time to sit down and write it out! A lot has happened: I have a gorgeous new baby girl Soleil! She was born October 13th and she’s a perfect little bundle of joy. My husband quit his job (with me 5 months pregnant) and started his own graphic design business! You can check him out at www.prveen.com (yes he designed and photographed the adorable birth announcement). It’s great because he rented an office close to where my violin lessons are so I can drop the girls off with him while I go to my lesson. I took off the month of October and was back at lessons the first week in November! I can’t believe it. I was planning to take off through the first of the year but I felt good enough to go back after only a few weeks. Soleil is a great sleeper so that makes it easy. She’s the complete opposite of my first daughter.
I’ve been (semi) diligently practicing my vibrato exercises for the past few months and there have been a few times where I’ve heard “that violin sound”!!! It’s only happened for a few seconds at a time but it has definitely happened. I was pretty unsure of myself and so paranoid that I had been practicing wrong and that I was forming bad habits but every time I would show my teacher he would tell me I was doing it right and that it would happen one day. He didn’t seem concerned at all! I’m like, “Are you seeing this? I’m basically shaking my hand a minuscule amount, in the wrong direction, and I can’t even tell if I’m vibrating the string or my bow, HOW can this be right?” But he kept encouraging me and told me that it would happen. I have complete faith in him and I’ve leaned through other experiences to “trust the process”, so that’s what I did, and now I’m starting to get results! Amazing.
The last few weeks Suri has started crying and clinging to me half way through our lesson. Ugh!!!
The metronome was sent to destroy me. It’s the biggest obstacle I’ve faced so far on this journey. It’s my ultimate nemesis.
Ok, so I might be exaggerating a little, and I am pregnant so I might be overreacting, but honestly, it’s a pain!!!
Several months ago my teacher had me try a few pieces with the metronome and I did try it a few times but kind of ignored the suggestion, and he dropped it. Well I am on Bourée for the third week and he has me not only practicing the crescendos and decrescendos AND vibrato on the half notes, but trying to play along with a metronome as well! Well seeing it all here in print I’m seeing why it’s been so frustrating for me, that’s a lot to try to put together!
Basically I’m terrible at metronome. I am trying to watch the blinking light so then I can’t read the music, and I’m constantly slowing down and speeding up, and it’s just a disaster. I can’t get back on track once I lose it. Am I that bad at keeping time playing without it? Or is it just throwing me off? Ughh!
This too shall pass, I know I’ll get it. It’s just that I’ve hit a rough patch and being on vacation all week in Hawaii probably didn’t help, hehe. (Hawaii was great by the way.)
So yeah, vibrato is also being a pain but at least I knew what to expect with that. I am frustrated with it because I don’t feel like I’m practicing it right and therefore I don’t want to practice the wrong thing too much. My teacher told me I was doing it right but I just don’t see how my finger is moving up and down the fingerboard. I must be analyzing it too much. See, I want to read in a book how to do it.
My sister was over today and I was practicing and I got so frustrated I announced that any time I see “met” written in my assignment book I’m just going to ignore it and that I had given up. Well of course I won’t actually do that but man, it’s hard.
Ok enough venting for tonight! I have a lot of missed practice to make up for this weekend before Monday’s lesson, then I’m off to Wisconsin and DC for two weeks visiting family! Lots of exciting things going on around here.
parakeetparty asked: Hello. I found your blog while searching in the vibrato tag for tips on improving. I'm really glad you've chosen to learn violin. Do you think you'd ever like to play in a real orchestra? (shifting and vibrato are difficult to learn by the way, but don't give up! I've still yet to master them.)
Hi! Yes I would love to play in an orchestra someday. Thank you for the encouragement!