Musings from a (very) amatuer violinist

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I played in my first concert with the orchestra one and a half weeks ago now.  It seems such a long time ago already, and it seems even longer since I attended my first trial rehearsal with the orchestra, and nervously tried to play the parts set before me.  For much of that first rehearsal, I was sitting there feeling totally overwhelmed.  The orchestra played so fast, and they all seemed to be really good at sight-reading (which, by the way, is something I find really hard).

However, I went back the next week, and I was moved from first violins to second violins, where the music seemed a lot less daunting and more playable.  The second half of that rehearsal was much better, and I felt I was actually playing.  I decided to join the orchestra.

I think I may honestly say that it has been a totally new learning experience.  Playing the violin solo is totally different.  I am at liberty to slow down in the hard places, a liberty which I think I probably take too often!  I can set the speed, so I don’t have to try to play those fiendishly hard parts of the music twice as fast as I would like.  Even when with the piano, I still ultimately get to set the speed, and when it comes to the crunch point, the pianist is accompanying me!

In the orchestra, it is another matter.  I have to keep going in the hard places; if I stop, the rest of the orchestra will go ruthlessly on.  I have to follow the speed set by the conductor which means that I have to face it if I don’t like the speed he chooses for those fiendishly hard parts.  It is so much less “me-centered” and so much more team-work.  It is about playing with the rest of the orchestra – not before, and not after.DSC_9328

It wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say that it was some of the hardest and fastest music that I have ever played yet.  I joined an orchestra which suggested it was suitable for people who were Grade 6 standard, but I found parts of the music very challenging – far harder than my Grade 6 pieces.  On a positive note, it did serve as an incentive to me to practice more!

I have enjoyed learning the new skills, despite those moments when I felt like crying out, “I can’t do this.  It is too hard for me.”  I am learning to get that bow moving faster (forget what the notes sound like for the moment, if you please).  I have learnt how to air bow (which is, quite simply, moving the bow without really touching the strings or making any sound)!  I have also learnt that the difficult parts which I can play fine at home tend to fall to pieces on me when I am with the rest of the orchestra and that not being able to count is a serious handicap in orchestra playing.  Yes, I still have some learning to do yet!

To conclude: I played in the concert.  I felt that in some ways I was abysmally prepared, despite doing a reasonable amount of practice on my parts.  It was far from perfect – lots of room for improvement – but I enjoyed playing!  The rest of the orchestra was amazing – my personal goal is to work toward becoming more proficient in playing so that I actually feel I earn my place in there!

Photo a Week: Week 4

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Maybe not the best quality photo today, but it was still one of my favourites.  This weekend I have my first concert with the orchestra I joined last September.  I am nervous, especially as I still can’t play some of my parts, partly due to it being among the hardest and fastest music I have yet had to learn (or attempt to learn!).

I came to the conclustion this evening that I really need to get out my camera more often.  Even with posting one photo a week, I find that my camera is consistently staying in its bag for the rest of the week. No wonder I have to reject so many photos!

Very Small and Determined…

DSC_3087A couple of weeks ago, my little sister got a 1/4 size violin.  She had been wanting to learn the violin for a little while – I suspect mainly because her ‘Nana’ (term of endearment for ‘Anna’!) played the violin.  She has just started lessons with my violin teacher, and really enjoys them.  This photo was taken during one of her practice times – she is very keen on practicing and has already improved a lot!  Her long sloooooow bows on the open strings are getting faster and less shaky.  Thus, a very small and determined little violinist!

Miscellany Monday #3

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

1.  Today it rained.  We have been having a lot of rain lately – mainly heavy showers and grey clouds with occasional breaks of sunshine.  After March and April being so dry, I guess we rather needed the rain to redress the balance!  However, I really would rather it reserved the rain for times when I didn’t have to go out.

2.  We finished painting our bedroom last Wednesday and have been trying to move back in ever since.  I only have just managed to clear the middle of the floor from boxes.  I have been going through a lot of papers and having a good  ‘sort-out’.  It has been rather tiring though!  (For those who are interested, I am planning to get some photos up soon.  I have them uploaded onto the computer, but just haven’t got around to writing a post yet!)

3.  On a walk yesterday we found a bench with tape on it proclaiming “Do not use.”  After carefully examining the bench, we could find no reason why it was unsafe and sat on it anyway.  It must have been someone’s prank; I don’t know whether to find it funny or not.  By the way, this was my attempt to look unconcerned!

4.  Goodnight kisses from two-year-olds are just sweet.  Especially when that two-year-old comes up to you for his goodnight kiss and rubs his curly head on your skirt.

5.  My little brother (the above two-year-old) had his hair cut last Friday.  We didn’t shave off all his curls though; just shortened them considerably…

6.  I am currently learning this piece on my violin.  Isn’t it nice?  I am not playing it at the concert on Saturday, however.

Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Winter…

…from the Vivaldi lover (me! :-)). Out of all of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, I must say winter is my favourite!

Apparently Vivaldi added a sonnet to each season as a guide to the ‘pictures’ the music is supposed to be ‘painting’. Here is the one for winter; try guessing which part signifies what!

To shiver frozen mid the icy snow
in unrelenting winds that bite and sting,
to stamp one’s icy feet, run to and fro,
one’s teeth for bitter chill a-chattering;

To muse contentedly beside the hearth
while those outside are drenched by pouring rain;
with cautious step to tred the icy path
and try to keep ones feet with might and main;

To turn abruptly, slip, crash to the ground
and, rising, hasten on across the ice
until it cracks and splinters all around;

To hear the winds burst with ferocious might
their prison gates and clash with martial sound –
this is the winter, such are its delights.