Wherein Ryan goes on a roller coaster ride to a soaring high and a death-defying low (did it defy death? Keep reading!). Wherein Ryan blames the weather.
It started when I opened my case last night to find my A string unwound and loosened. This has happened a couple of times before, so when I looked a little closer I was just glad the string wasn’t broken. I’d been patting my violin on the back for the past week or so because it had been doing such a great job of staying in tune, but despite all that positive reinforcement, here was the A string staring up at me in need of being wound back up to tension. I don’t know why, but as I went to tune the A, for the first time ever I just thought about hearing the right frequency in my head; I manufactured an A in my mind’s inner ear and tuned the string to what was in my head. Then I turned on the digital tuner and pulled the bow along the string to find that I had absolutely nailed it – A 440 hz. Unbelievable! A hearty patting of self on back and moment of heraldry with Michael followed.
But then I started playing. My beautifully tuned A string took all of 10 seconds to fall flat. I tuned it up again. Two songs later, it went south again. Finally, in the middle of playing through my Book Two songs, somewhere around The Witch’s Dance and maybe 20 minutes into practicing – I generally go an hour and a half on Saturday afternoons – I just threw in the towel. I dumped my violin on the bed, loosened my bow hairs, stomped out of the bedroom, and declared to Michael, “I’m done.”
Violin tucked back in case, I cursed the weather; seasonal changes are the stuff of strings players’ nightmares. It’s a much discussed topic – Our instruments need the environmental conditions to be stable. And “stable” is not what Chicago’s weather has been the past couple of days. We’re on the fast march to winter, and my instrument’s complaining more loudly than I am.
We’ll see if I can work with this thing’s temperamental mood later today. Doubtless I’ll get multiple chances to nail that A 440 from an inner ear conjured tone again too; I’ll do my best to focus on that.
Thanks for reading.