And Now, A Post About the Violin

As some know, I have been studying the violin for three and a half years. I’m not sure I have made much progress. According to the rest of the Demonics, I’m not much better than I was way back when.

Mr. Demonic doesn’t want to play with me. He thinks I practice scales too much. He plays the piano, but I have to beg him to accompany me. Ms. MiniD played the flute, but now that she is 18, she has fulfilled her obligation to music lessons and playing music, and she has retired. Mr. Demonic Junior, starting his fourth year studying piano at a prestigious West Coast Conservatory, says I still can’t count worth a darn.

This leaves me with my teacher. She’s nice enough, and competent enough (her husband was 1st violinist at our local symphony before he retired about 30 years ago), but I never see any of her other students. We also don’t have any opportunities to play in front of others, which I thought was helpful for my own children.

I’ve now progressed to 6th and 7th position, which means I am way, way, way high up on the neck of my violin. If I thought the instrument was tough before, now it’s practically devilish. It’s taken me two months to do four pages of exercises. Part of my problem is that my elderly brain is not able to comprehend a lot of this all at once. I know what’s right, but making my fingers do it is nearly impossible without hours of practice. The other thing is that I only have an hour or so a day to practice. I wish I could do more. (When I go on vacation, I bring my violin and find I can practice for hours at a time.) Being old, I’m also not as fearless as the little four year olds I know who can play circles around me.

My teacher speaks quickly. I am great at puzzling looks, so she takes the hint immediately. I know what she is saying, especially when it comes to relating my fingers to each other, but it seems to take me forever to put the theory into practice.

You can teach an old dog new tricks, but you have to be prepared to outlive him.

7 Responses

  1. Two close relatives are very talented at music. My brother can play just about every stringed instrument there is (guitar, banjo, mandolin, etc.) and sings well, also. He once played lead guitar (the only white person) in a Senegalese village band.

    My uncle is a composer who won a Pulitzer Prize in composition and received a MacArther “genius” award.

    As a child, I was expected to do something musical. I played flute. I am not quite tone dear, but I am within hearing distance of it. When I asked my flute teacher how I was doing, he said, in a not-unkind way, “You are the best student I have who does not have any talent.” David R was greatly shocked when I related this story.

    Also, I have no sense of rhythm. When I was in my high school band, I was always marching out of step. It is amazing that my band mates did not murder me out on the football field in full view of the crowd in the stands.

    You go, lady!

  2. “tone deaf”; I can’t spell or type either. Oh, well, I will bring Random Granddaughter some fresh organic raspberries from our garden next week and she will love me.

  3. Your closing line is priceless.

    It always bothers me when musicians regard other musicians as “not good enough” to play with. Anyone who wants to make music should be encouraged to make music, even if they can’t count worth a darn. Shame on your musically elitist family. It’s things like this that take people’s joy out of artistic expression.

  4. Ms. Pande,

    Keep at it kiddo. When I stayed on mandolin I told the bluegrass boys to give me ten years. I made it, but it was just under the wire.

    I have a thing called the ten year rule. If one wants to transform to doctor, mandolinist, or golfer, it is a ten year journey, and one should not worry about the first few. It takes that long. (Violin is even tougher- might be twelve for it)

    Dr. B

  5. Hey Ms. Pande, one more thing. You are in my last blog post. Every so often, I include a “pay tribute to my loyal readers” paragraph.

    Dr. B

  6. The Ten Year Rule? I love that! That means in 2012 my golf game will be adequate! 🙂

    David, I’m afraid a lot of good musicians are elitists. I’m sure you know that from your studies, and I’ve seen it plenty of times myself. It doesn’t bother me though. I just need a new circle of fiddle-playing friends.

  7. I’m glad you are sticking with it. Not a lot would without encouragement from their family. You go girl!

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