No New Music

My Austin long weekend kept me from too much practice last week, so my new song languished.  Of course we worked on it in yesterday’s lesson.  I’d been struggling to hear what the last couple of lines of my minuet are supposed to sound like, so the first thing I asked was for Teacher to play it for me.  As she did, she confirmed what I’ve been realizing lately – rhythm is vital to making notes sound like music.  Obviously there are a number of different parts that have to come together to make a song, but getting the rhythm right seems to be my struggle of the moment.  Rhythm is so important to the next song I will get that Teacher gave me a drill to practice in preparation for it.

Though I have the drill, I did not go any further in the book, so it’s the first lesson where I worked exclusively on material I’ve already been introduced to; I got no new music.  I had already decided prior to the lesson that I was not ready for new music, and I assumed Teacher would not push it on me, and indeed the subject didn’t even come up.

It’s interesting to contrast my violin lessons to date with the typical trajectory of my karate curriculum learning.  While I still get quite a bit of new curricular material in my karate syllabus at a new black belt rank, I now go a number of years between changing ranks.  So right now, for example, it’s been two years since I’ve been introduced to any “new” material; the main idea is that we’re constantly polishing all the material we know over the course of hundreds of classes and independent practice sessions.  And I still feel like a complete beginner at some of that stuff, too.

Dr. Suzuki was into rote practice – really, really into it.  Of course my karate is a traditional Japanese art, and Suzuki’s method was created in Japan; I have written before about the influences of Japanese culture and of Buddhist philosophy being readily apparent in an informed reading of his classic work Nurtured by Love.

It’s quite interesting for me to think about the analogs between the two styles of learning and my two main arenas of mindful practice.  Whatever else I can say, I know that the patience I’ve cultivated on the karate training floor over the years is coming in handy on the slow road to progress on the violin!

Thanks for reading.

Ryan

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