Well after writing that post about Christmas Music the other day I couldn’t get Oh Holy Night out of my head. I practiced my usual repertoire for over an hour in the morning yesterday, but upon returning from the grocery story in the afternoon I became obsessed with picking out the holiday tune on the violin. It was slow going – I started pizzicato, plucking quietly, mostly for Michael’s and the neighbors’ benefit, and managed to figure out most of it. I realized as I was going that it’s the longest song (by far) that I’ve taken on to date.
With new songs in my lessons, I write them down after I have played them with Teacher a few times. I really “memorize” them before writing them down, copying her as she plays, but then I’m able to refer to my notes after the lesson when my memory fails. This is part of the Suzuki idea – the ear is all important. And when I say “write them down,” I’m writing down finger positions and strings, not notes.
As I was plucking out Oh Holy Night, however, I realized I had no hope of remembering it all in the way I do my simple Suzuki tunes, so I started writing as I plucked – one note at a time. I can’t tell you what key I’m playing it in, but since for now I only know first position fingering, I really came to the conclusion that I don’t have a lot of choice about which note to start on. It uses three of the strings – my first song that does so. Other arrangements for people who aren’t complete beginners would differ I’m sure.
But I’m not sure beginners would generally tackle the song – it’s tough to stress the degree to which it’s out of my league, to be honest. The string hopping, finger hopping, and “accidentals,” I’ll call them, perhaps imprecisely – two spots where sharp/flat notes I haven’t technically learned yet are required, conspire to make the song kind of a beast. But I persevered, and now have an arrangement of Oh Holy Night written out in finger positions. Of course it sounds terrible – just hitting the notes as my fingers jump around the strings like crazy is a mammoth struggle, so I have yet to get to the point where I can worry about tone quality with it. I’m not accustomed to looking at music while playing, and though I’m starting to wean myself from looking at my fingers as I play, starting to wean is exactly where I’m at with that.
Thanks for reading.