I’m plowing ahead in Suzuki Book Two, which Teacher tells me shouldn’t be too tough until we get about halfway through. Book Two is apparently all about tonalization, or making the instrument sound beautiful. In fact the first thing I worked on in the book about three weeks ago was not a “song,” rather it was a tonalization exercise. On the violin, when we play notes that are an octave up or down from a note that can be played on an open string, the open string can vibrate, creating a nice resonance within the instrument and making the sound more full and lovely. For example, third finger on the D string is G, and the D string is adjacent to the G string on the violin, so when I play the G on the D String the open G string vibrates, creating a nice, resonant tone. Being able to recognize the resonance is important – it only produces that tell-tale ringing when the notes are in tune. Proper tonalization is one of the keys to going from the tinny squeaks of a beginner to the lovely sounds of a person who knows what they’re doing!
I do enjoy playing slow scales and arpeggios and listening for the resonance of adjacent strings. I can hear improvement, and working on tone quality is fulfilling for me.
But so is getting new songs! So far in Book Two I’ve been working on a Handel piece – the majestic chorus from Judas Maccabeus – and last week I started in on a Bach tune the book calls Musette. I was surprised, due to the state of my learning of Judas Maccabeus, that we went any further in last week’s lesson, but Teacher says these songs are all simple enough based on my current knowledge of technique; again, the focus of the first half of the book especially is tonalization, so working on it with a variety of songs is good.
Judas Maccabeus sounds especially different from the other music I’ve played. The piece is in D Major, whereas all the Bach stuff and even my other two more complicated pieces have been in G Major, so that’s bound to be a part of it. Judas Maccabeus was written as a chorale work, so as I’m playing it, the piece also seems like it should be sung. I don’t know the words or I could supply them myself, of course! Musette is full of string crossings and slurs – I’m enjoying both.
Sadly, however, I’ve had a relatively miserable week as it pertains to this blog and my playing – last week was my school’s big annual fundraiser, and I just was too exhausted to do much else, and then on Saturday as I was biking home I hit a terrible and notoriously problematic Chicago Post-Winter Pothole and went flying through the air, landing with my bicycle on top of me and pulling my inner thigh muscle, which isn’t great, but the worst injury happened as my wrists bore the brunt of the impact – my palms are scraped up and both wrists and forearms are extremely sore, and my range of motion is limited. So, bummer of bummers, I’m off of physical AND musical activity here for a few days and I’m really feeling the loss.
But, this too shall pass. As I limped my battered bike and bloodied body home from the scene of the crash, adrenaline pumping and keeping it together but still not quite sure I hadn’t done serious damage to myself, a man who identified himself as a homeless vet asked me for money so he could get some food. I mustered a smile and kept walking. As I passed, he again called out, “Have you ever been hungry sir?” I kept walking, and thought to myself, “No, you sure haven’t, Ryan. You’ve got it pretty damn good, don’t you?”
Thanks for reading.