I’ve been practicing my violin a lot lately. And also both my guitars. I’m beginning to feel that old familiar restlessness again. And I really, really wish I didn’t have to work right now.
This week I went off course a bit with practice. I composed a piece to go with one of my songs, and did a rough recording and took it to my teacher to have him hear it and give me tips. I thought he’d spend a few minutes with it, and then move back to the book. But he didn’t.
Instead, he taught me how to write out the piece, and figured the best bowing pattern for it (which is a bit too hard for me to manage yet), had me record a video of him playing it (for reference) and told me to practice just this all week. And also one tiny piece from the book, but I already know that, and so my focus stays on this.
If I ever learn to play this well, Zonk, I’ll record it and put it up here so you can listen to it. I believe that you learn to play instruments in sprints. You go through the motions and follow the rules and get better at it bit by minuscule bit – and then one day you have a breakthrough of some sort. The instrument starts to fit your body suddenly. It feels more like a natural extension than an object you need to wrestle into place. Things become easier beyond this point. Partly because you’ve become used to playing it. But mostly because everything hurts less and it finally starts to be more about the music and less about the mechanics of it all. It begins to be fun.
And then you’ll be stuck on that plateau for a long long time. Until the next breakthrough happens, and you suddenly hit a point where you become good at playing the damn thing. (And then you’ll be stuck there, and so on.)
Anyway, my point is, I’ve finally powered up to Level 1. It took me 8 or 9 lessons to get off of Level 0. That’s 2 months. Of which I spent at least 3 weeks not practicing very much at all. It’s a shame – all these years that I’ve wasted – but I can sort of play now. I mean, if I pick up a violin today and start to make some sounds, you wouldn’t need to drop everything and run into the next room. That sounds sad, I know. But with this painful instrument, it definitely counts as progress :)
I realised today that I lucked out with both my music teachers. My guitar teacher taught me to play with blood and instinct and not worry about breaking rules at all. My violin teacher teaches me the math and science of music playing. But he always places it in the context of improving my art.
If ever I learn to do both simultaneously, I will be satisfied.
In other news, C’s piano teacher is organising a little homey open mic sort of event. Well, the mic’s not really open as such, but that’s the vibe. And she’s asked me to play a bit. Which is why I’ve been working with both my guitars so much lately.
All of this is a lot of fun. But it’s also very distracting. And I have a ton of work to do right now that I should really not be ignoring.
And so, goodbye. Be good, Zonk. Practice hard and follow the rules and keep your fingers round.
I’ll see you again soon.