This past two weeks has been quite busy for me at work, and my practicing has suffered. So of course in yesterday’s lesson I had to confess to Teacher – she’d know anyway. It’s not that I’ve made no progress, but another week will be helpful on my newest piece. I’ve now written two posts about anticipating my next song, the Paganini I’m desperate for. But I’ve waited my whole life for Paganini so a few weeks is nothing.
My current project is proper bowing on my two most recent pieces, the Handel Bourree and The Two Grenadiers by Schumann. There’s a lot of hooked bowing and ties and slurs in both (all ways to play multiple notes with a single bow stroke), and the patterns aren’t readily apparent to me. Teacher helped me isolate passages to identify patterns and then string them together – at this phase it really becomes a memorization task for me. I’ve done this before but the task with these two pieces is much larger than it has been in the past.
And it’s much harder for me to memorize bowing patterns than it is notes. Suzuki’s method is all about listening to the songs, so I know the notes that come next and playing them comes relatively naturally after a little practice with a new piece. The bowing, on the other hand, can seem arbitrary– it’s not arbitrary; the prescriptions have to do with sound quality, efficiency, getting to the next note in time. At my current level of competency, however, I can’t fully appreciate the “whys,” which have always helped me learn anything, so it’s tricky. One positive aspect of this struggle is that it gives me more practice reading music.
The word “groove” gets tossed around as it pertains to behaviors and the brain – as we repeat behaviors we create synaptic “grooves;” our brain gets used to certain patterns. We do the same thing time and time again. Cognitive/behavioral therapy is about busting out of those grooves. Of course nobody’s saying these are literal grooves – it’s a metaphor. Still, I’m having fun imagining that as I practice the same little stretch of Grenadiers, bowing fiercely on my violin strings, that there’s an equally fierce bow at work on my gray matter creating grooves the old fashioned way.
Thanks for reading.