Music, The Violin Project

My very many violin woes.

Dear Zonk,

Learning to play the violin is a bit like learning to drive a car. Sadly for me, I can’t drive at all.

Before I get into this, here’s a brief timeline of the events leading up to my third violin class this morning.

A brief timeline of the events leading up to my third violin class this morning.

  • 2001 (or maybe it was 2000 or 2002) – went to the annual Book Exhibition at school, where my sister picked out a book for me. The Mozart Season by Virginia Euwer Wolff. In the book, a 12 year old violinist participates in a Mozart contest, plays a concerto for her dead Jewish grandmother, discovers that she’s an endangered species, finds a lost song, and practices her violin a whole lot. 13 (or was it 11 or 12?) year old me decided to learn to play the violin some day.
  • 2004 (or 2005) – 18 year old me got distracted and bought a guitar instead. Turned out I was reasonably musical. Stuck with the instrument, practiced for hours every day, got pretty good at it even, and wrote some semi-decent (and a few slightly shitty) songs. My violin dreams were shelved for a while.
  • November 5, 2010 – 22 year old me was kinda bored. I was writing better songs by then, but hardly ever practiced. I wondered if it was time to find new focus in my old ambitions. Asked my family for a violin on my birthday, got a cycle instead.
  • November 5, 2011 – 23 year old me asked for a birthday violin again. This time I actually got one.
  • Later in 2011 – found a violin tutor who had great expectations of me, and totally disappointed him. I went for 4 – 5 classes, made rapid progress, and then quit and decided to go the self-taught route. Terrible decision. Never try to teach yourself violin, Zonk. Especially if you’re a lazy bum and entirely lack the discipline and rigour required to master this cruelest of instruments.
  • 2012 – 2016 – Picked up the instrument and dropped it again roughly 234 times. Figured out how to play Scarborough Fair and May It Be (Enya). Felt momentarily accomplished. Accomplished nothing.
  • 2017 – Planned a bunch of life changes for 2018, including but not limited to – marriage, moving out, quitting my job, going freelance, becoming a person who understands money; and learning to play the fucking violin.
  • January 2018 – Called up Furtados, got a list of numbers for violin teachers, arranged to meet the first one that answered his phone. Luckily for me, he turned out to be excellent. He told me that adults can learn to play pretty easily too, and that I do have an ear for music. Which was quite a relief to hear, because by this point, I’d almost entirely stopped playing anything. The last song I composed was written at least 2 years ago, and the fingertips of my left hand were smooth as baby’s bum. I’d figured my musical ear must have rotted itself off my head by now. I paid up immediately, and started going to class.
  • Today, 8.30 a.m., January 30, 2018 – Class #3.

My teacher introduced me to sight reading, adding one more thing to do to the growing list of things one is expected to do simultaneously while playing a violin. Keep the bow parallel to the bridge. Keep your bow hand flat and loose whilst not dropping the bow. Put your middle finger in the curve of the heel and your pinky just so and with your ring finger, you must poke the frog in its eye. Keep your thumb rounded. Keep your left hand loose (I cannot). Keep all four fingers curved, and find the right note with absolutely no markers to help you do it at all. Keep the scroll pointing up. Bow surely, at a consistent speed, and ease the pressure up at the right times. Use the right section of bow, at the right distance from the bridge. Keep your right arm still from elbow to shoulder. Pay attention to the sound you draw out – try not to sound like a dying cow. Do all of this simultaneously, of course and oh! Slow down! You have to be playing in time! 

I’m not very good at multi-tasking, Zonk. Nor am I good at Math. I realised today that musicality can really only take you this far when it comes to music. And with the violin, it probably barely even counts. So much of this is technique and practice and hard hard hard work. It’s a bit overwhelming. But, let’s be honest. It’s also kinda exciting to think that if I keep up with this, I might actually be able to play respectably someday.

So my aim this week is to get as close to an hour of practice every day as I possibly can. I think it should be doable. I doubt it’s gonna be fun. Either way, it’s time to buckle up.

*grimly puts rosin on bow*

Love always,
K.

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Music, Unsorted

Resolution #1

Dear Zonk,

I made a ton of resolutions this year. I’ve kept almost none so far, but that’s a story for another day. The point of today’s post is, I’m finally working on keeping one. And it’s a big one. A scary one.

I’m going to play at an open mic night, before this month is over. Rahul found a few options, and we’ve picked a day that we’re both going todo this.

I spent a lot of today practicing one of the songs I plan to play. It’s a hard song to play and an even harder song to sing. And while I enjoy playing and singing it, I haven’t heard what it sounds like to other people yet. So, you know, there’s a chance that I’ll drop it and pick up something simpler instead. I’ll figure soon, after I practice some more and record it and play it back to myself.

That’s my cover.

For my original, I’m picking a song that’s safe and easy. It’s hard to fuck up, easy to listen to, and also easy to sing. It’s not my best, but my two best songs are both too difficult to do live, and also almost impossible to play well without backup. Especially when you’re prone to turning into a bundle of nerves every time someone points a mic at you.

It sucks to be afraid of things. Especially the things you really want to do.

But oh well. We’ll see how it plays out.

Love always,
K.

 

 

 

 

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Music

Day 2: 30 days of violin

Note: Yes, I’m doing this thing. And yes, I’ve often said such things before and I’ve always failed at following through. And yes, I’ll probably fail again. But I still get to talk about it if I want to. Because, you know, My blog.

Dear Zonk,

Yesterday felt promising. But tonight, my violin grates on my nerves. I stuck it out, though. For the mandatory 15 minutes, and then for 5 more.
Tomorrow will go better, I hope.

And now, I sleep. 
Love always,
K.

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Music

Luminous (WIP)

Edited to add: Use headphones if you can.

A long time ago, I told you that I almost finished recording one complete song and that I’m thinking of maybe sharing the WIP version with you.

So, here you go.

Things you should know: This song is called Luminous. I’ve been sitting on it for over a year now. It was almost fully composed ages ago but it didn’t really come together till C collaborated on it. So far, only the two of us have worked on this track. I’ve composed the song (guitar and words), and I’m singing and playing it. C’s done the sound: i.e. the recording, production and putting-together-ing of the song. I’m going to figure out a better way to explain this later tonight.

Things you don’t really need to know but there’s no one here to stop me from going on: There’s a book by Nick Cave called the Death Of Bunny Munro. At some point in it, Bunny Jr., an anxious, earnest, too-old-for-his-age little boy is sitting alone in his dad’s car while his dad is busy getting it on with some woman or the other under the pretext of being a cosmetic salesman just days after his wife’s suicide. Bunny Jr. dozes off while reading  about Quasars. A quasar, according to his book, is the most luminous object in the universe. In Bunny’s dream, his mother puts a finger on his forehead and tells him – You are the most luminous object in the Universe.

The Most Luminous Object In The Universe.

The concept really stuck with me. And the word. And, therefore, this song.

I hope you like it, Zonk. And that we really finish it next week.

Luminous.

You’re careless and weird
You’re still finding your feet
It’s hard to be sure of how
And the road that you’re on
Is likely as wrong as
Right
And regretfully

You’re too old to be young
And too young to be real
You might well disappear.

But when you turn out the light
And just let it all slide
I’m here to be yours
And you
Are luminous.

And older you’ll grow
Still aching to know if
Time will reveal a Plan
With cause and effect and
Maps that make sense and
Stars that will all align

Too late to begin
All over again
You might well disappear

But when you turn out the light and
Let it all slide
I’m here to be yours
And you
Are luminous.

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Art, Design, Literature, Music, Unsorted

2015

Edit: All of these resolutions I have underway are only surviving because of my first resolution, which I forgot to mention. I am reading less this year.

Dear Zonk,

2015 is over two weeks old now, and I think it’s time I told you more about the many things I’ve decided to do this year and how I’ve fared so far. First, you should know that I’ve never before made so many serious resolutions. I suppose it had something to do with being young and dismissive and disrespectful of Time. Time sucks, you know. It fucking flies. You get years and years of being obscenely and undeniably Young. And then suddenly, before you know it, you’re making little tick marks in the “26 to 30” box in surveys and questionnaires. It’s alarming when that happens. Because, you know, you were in college so recently and you’re so used to being young and that whole aging thing wasn’t supposed to actually happen to you…

But it does. And it would have been nice to have gotten a head start on this whole Making The Most Of Life thing. But I pretty much threw away my early twenties being lax and lazy. So, here I am now. 26 and reeking of regret.

I’ve been brooding over this for over a year now: I’m not happy with where I’ve ended up a quarter of a century into this whole business of Being. And I figured I should stop whining and do something about it while I’m still a long way off from becoming a fossil. So, here goes. These are my resolutions.

  1. Become a healthier person. I’m an old lady. I have old lady bones that creak and click and muscles that strain too easily and a faulty neck and so on. I suspect this has something to do with the fact that my diet for the last 26 years has consisted mostly of starch and sugar and salt. Thin people take food for granted. I’m like that. I also don’t exercise enough, in spite of making serious attempts at sticking to a regular 7 minute workout schedule. So I plan to change that this year. I also really, really, really want a low resting pulse rate. But well. That’s a long way off.So far: Meh. I did a 2 week chip cleanse. That went badly, seeing as I’ve been stuffing my face full of chips ever since. I’ve not managed to do much working out. I’m trying to fix it. I really want to hit the 4 days a week mark soon. Well. I’ll keep trying.
  2. Figure out what I want to do. Because this is not it. There’s got to be something more. And there’s got to be time to hone all the skills I used to possess. I had potential in more than one area, you know. Maybe somewhere, some of it exists still. I need to figure out how to get to it.So far:  I’ve actually done okay here. I’ve been talking to lots of different people and thinking of possibilities. It’s all still kind of vague now. But I have all my fingers crossed. And if something works out, I’ll go get a haircut. Just saying.
  3. Make more music. So, I have no delusions about this. I am a decent songwriter. Sadly, I am also a mediocre guitarist and not much of a singer. I have a thin voice and a surplus of stomach butterflies and it makes me nervous to think of playing or singing around people. But, here’s the thing. I just did a rough count in my head right now and I have at least 9 songs of my own that I’m moderately proud of. 9 decent songs. That’s not bad, Zonk, if you think about it. And there’s more that I’ve left unfinished and so on.So my resolution this year is to make more music. Write more songs. Practice all three of my instruments. And, most importantly, record bearable versions of at least half of my 9 songs. You know, so I have something to show for it. I don’t want much more than that. I just want to be able to point to something and say – “Look. I made this.”

    So far: I’m actually quite proud. I jammed with new people on one song. I sort of finished recording another with C (I just need to add some violin parts to it, though we all know that could take months to accomplish). I practiced both guitar and ukulele a lot in the last week. I actually dusted off and tuned my violin this week. And I’m pretty excited about finishing the song. I’m seriously considering putting a WIP version up here. Who knows. Maybe I will.

  4. Bleak Person Chronicles. Sigh. This is the still-secret other blog I was supposed to have started last year. It exists. But it’s still not ready to be put out there. I have a lot of work to do with setting up and designing the theme and with you know, writing actual fucking posts. Like more than 2 a year, perhaps. Anyway. I’m sharing the link with you. And the password. Because, Zonk, you of all people deserve to know about any blog I’m trying to do. And also because maybe if I’m accountable to someone, I’ll do more about actually getting this off the ground. Here goes. Don’t share:
    Username: A Person
    Password: thisisasecret10

That’s all, and that’s already too much. I think if I manage to do well on at least half of this, I will be a happier person this year.

Goodbye, Zonk. And a Happy Saturday to you.

Love always,
K.

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