Yesterday I learned that A Major, marked by three sharps, is the key in which I’ve been playing my Twinkle variations. I think I’m going to enjoy Teacher’s method of imparting Music Proper. It seems I’ll be playing something by ear, a la Suzuki, and Teacher will share a bit of formal musical knowledge along the way. It’s nice to start to have names for the notes that I’m playing.
Before she told me, she asked if I knew what key I was playing in – she doesn’t want to patronize and she knows I studied as a child. While I can toss around words like sharps and flats and key signatures and major and minor scales, the truth is I don’t know much at all about what any of it means anymore. She had me name the notes in the A Major scale as I played them, which was challenging. Three of the seven notes in the scale have a sharp, but the sharps are played by utilizing the standard finger positioning on a violin, so in the way that C Major is a “natural” key on the piano, A Major is a “natural” key on the violin.
The Twinkle variations are named on the basis of the rhythmic bowing patterns they teach, which are important to playing all pieces going forward. I didn’t realize the variations were teaching skills onto which I’ll scaffold until Teacher said “It’s very common for us to bow with these patterns” – the variations are not just about keeping me from being bored senseless with Twinkle the standard way! I learned another one yesterday, “Strawberry,” which I’m calling “Strawberries” because you play it twice:
long down bow short up bow short down bow
then long up bow short down bow short up bow.
So “Straw” gets a longer duration, and the two syllables of “berry” get a shorter and equal duration.
But, I’m coming to learn, holding the violin and the bow properly will continue to be my primary struggles for a while. Teacher was exceptionally complimentary in her assessment of my progress over the past week, and I too am pleased with my progress after only a week or so. I am having a ton of fun with this thing.
Thanks for reading.