Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Sweet Spot of Practice

I've been practicing the violin, as you might imagine.  It's really deeply pleasurable.  By that, I don't mean I sound good, because with the rare exceptional moment, I don't.  But it's like a good bike ride in that my brain is focused and so the rest of the world fades, and I just think about trying to play a scale, or broken thirds (really hard, I have to say), or Twinkle Twinkle.

Some things I was thinking about this week:

1.  If you've been grading a lot, right-handed, and tend to hold your pencil a bit tightly, your small fingers will get crampy really fast if you pizzicato much.  (So I've been doing more bowing than I otherwise would.)

2.  Twinkle Twinkle is hard.  There's a point where I need to play the higher string (say the A, if I've started on the D string) and then get three fingers in place on the D AND move the bow so that it hits only the D (a bit of a challenge for me anyway).  Once those fingers and the bow are in place, then the next couple of notes involve lifting one finger at a time, which is easier.

So, the sticking spot is that move from the open A string to three fingers down on the D string (playing a G).

The thing is, the D scale, on the way down, makes exactly the same move.  So if I practice my scales, and do the down part extra, it really, really helps with Twinkle Twinkle.

(I've been learning the song in three keys, since it takes two strings.  It's very cool that way.)

3.  When I left my lesson last week, I was on the edge of overwhelmed.  Yesterday, practicing, I could tell I was getting better, especially on the scales and Twinkle Twinkle (my broken thirds are less good).  A little focused practice probably makes more of a difference at this point in my violin career than it will when I've been playing a lot longer.  So now, I'm excited for my lesson, because I think I've actually noticeably improved, and am excited for the next new thing to learn.

4.  I'm really working on not holding the neck of the violin with a death grip.  Boy, is THAT hard!  I have to practice and grow to feel confident holding the violin with my chin, but I'm sure not there yet.

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