I have worked up my first duet from the Suzuki Duets book – I know I wrote about that little D major ditty that I played along with just fine right out of the box, but I’m not counting it if it doesn’t take any work (I failed to mention that the entire part is a series of quarter notes alternating with quarter rests). The first one I decided to work up was Minuet 1, my first Bach tune, from Book One. As with the arrangements for Simple Gifts and Amazing Grace that I worked up for the chamber music festival, I know the top melody line of this minuet quite well, but I had never heard the violin two part prior to playing it myself on Sunday afternoon.
So I just started playing. I readily found some correspondences to the violin one part, and I readily found that in many places I struggled initially to know what the arranger was getting at. As I wrote a couple of days ago, I’m learning that rhythm is absolutely key to playing a piece I don’t know at all. So just like in our coaching sessions at the chamber music festival, I started counting out the rhythm. I took a cue from the title of the work – “Hey, Ryan, this thing is a minuet! Play it like a minuet! Three beats to the measure. One Two Three, One Two Three, One Two Three….”
And then a little magic happened – I began to hear the rhythm in a new and interesting way; my head opened up and I could hear when I was supposed to rest versus the main track; I knew when I’d missed my moment and needed to wait for the next; I could begin to blend with the recording.. I worked the duet up bit by bit – there are some tricky parts for me, with some interesting bowing, and there are some truly lovely moments too. I get to decide on my own fingering (or discover it at least – I don’t think in these particular cases anyone would disagree with my “choices!”). The Three Bach Minuets from Book One remain some of my favorites from the Suzuki repertoire. Initially they were difficult for me to learn, taking weeks apiece, and it’s fun now to be able to, having never heard what it’s supposed to sound like before, work up this equally difficult violin two part all by myself in just a couple of hours. I played it again for a good while yesterday afternoon.
I’m having an insane amount of fun with this new direction in my playing. I’m looking forward to asking Teacher to play Minuet One and dazzling her with my violin two part on Wednesday. I think she’ll be OK with it since I’m still giving plenty of attention to my scales and etudes and such.
Thanks for reading.