An Asterisk Is an Asterisk

Gavotte by Gossec is coming along.  It’s the “graduation piece” for Suzuki Book 1, and I’ve just started in on my third week with it.  I’ll probably get the rest of it next week.  It’s complicated and wonderful, with slurs a-plenty (four note slurs!) and circle-bows and grace notes and string crossings and intervals the size of The Willis Tower – yes, I’m the one Chicagoan who’s made the switch.

As Teacher introduced me to new parts of the song, I noticed an asterisk in the music.  I asked what it means, “It means there’s a note or something at the end with more information,” Teacher explained.  “Oh, so it’s not musical notation at all, it’s just like an asterisk anywhere else!”  I realized I was relieved for some reason, which surprised me a bit.  I think I love learning new musical notation.

But I love just playing songs more, I suppose.  I think my reaction of relief was due to my lack of ability at present even to tend to the elements of musical notation with which I have a base level familiarity.  I think there’s really only so much I can focus on at this stage of my playing; at present, the returns on my effort of tending to something like, for example, a tenuto, are diminishing at best.

I need to relax the palm heel of my left hand.
I need to relax the pinky support muscles of my right hand.
I need to be in tune.
I need to bow in the proper direction.
I need to play the correct notes.

As I’ve mentioned before, the Suzuki Method does not focus on reading music until book four, and I think I’m experiencing firsthand some of the “why” behind that controversial pedagogical principle.  Babies roll over then crawl then walk then run then practice karate.  Babies babble then make short sentences then speak fluently then learn the alphabet then start reading.  These things make sense to me.

I remain open-minded to appreciating the pros and cons of Suzuki’s approach, but right now I’m just happy that an asterisk is an asterisk.

Thanks for reading.

Ryan

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