My D String was revealing some wear near the bridge – metal string cores are wound with another layer of metal thread, and the outer layer was starting to fray. I asked Teacher last week if I should pre-emptively replace it and she gave an emphatic “Yes.” Apparently they can break and snap up toward an unwitting player’s face – something to be avoided. Obviously the snapping has the potential to damage the instrument too. But these things happen. Strings are, in computer parlance, field replaceable units. I did the A string on my own a while back, which snapped unexpectedly overnight while sitting in the case. That experience taught me that I need to have spare strings on hand, so I do – I ordered a whole set.
Despite having replaced one myself, I did that under less than ideal circumstances because I didn’t want to wait to play. That replacement went fine, but this time I waited for Teacher anyway to see if she had any tricks of the trade to impart. Indeed she showed me the best way to hold the instrument while changing the string, and the utility of having tweezers on hand to adjust the length of the string prior to winding it, which is a way you can control the final position of the tuning peg – in order to tune the violin while it’s still up on your shoulder it really helps to have the pegs facing a certain direction. She shared that the string will stretch over the next couple of days, and that you should leave a new string tuned sharp in the case to help the process along.
So I’ve now replaced my A and D strings in the past 6 weeks. I now need to order another D string for the break that will eventually come. Teacher says it’s quite common to get at least a year out of them, and I’m at a year and a quarter on the remaining G and E strings.
Strings are useful for playing things like minuets – I’m loving my Beethoven Minuet in G, and it’s really coming along. Teacher is telling me that I need to be a little freer with the bow. There’s a beautiful part of the piece where the music soars up to a high A – Teachers says, “Stand tall!” As if lifting my chest skyward will fill that A up with loveliness. And it does, of course – I’ve seen others play this thing and they do exactly that. The violin is a physical, whole-body kind of instrument. I love that about it – it has such an ability to reveal the emotions of the player. It’s quite fun to be at a spot where getting some of that into my playing is appropriate.
We’ll see, but she hinted at starting the Boccherini next week – the final piece in Book Two. The piece is one I’ve had coursing through my head since I was a child – it’s going to be quite challenging and I’m very much looking forward to it. But I’m also very much looking forward to playing this Beethoven well first.
Thanks for reading.