It’s been three weeks since my last lesson; with the new year comes a new lesson day too – I’m changing from Wednesday to Tuesday mornings. The day will work out better for my schedule and it doesn’t seem to matter to Teacher. In fact she often has something late on Tuesday nights, so it might work out better for her sleep schedule to have a morning commitment that day versus the morning after. I’m looking forward to seeing her in a bit; her mother had been sick in the hospital over the Christmas holiday so I hope all is OK.
I’ve been playing a lot since we returned from our Christmas trip – I’ve filled up a great deal of my much needed and relaxing time off over the holidays with practice sessions that can go for as long as three hours. That’s about my limit at the moment, though my stamina keeps improving. I try to move around a lot, taking breaks to stretch here and there. The body does complain a bit after playing for so long – I try to be on the lookout for muscles I’m needlessly holding tight or other physical things I might be doing that might negatively impact my experience.
Speaking of holding muscles tight, vibrato requires both that and its opposite all at once. The technique also requires patience, and I’m finding I have very little of it for these vibrato practice exercises far up the fingerboard that don’t engage me in playing any particular notes. While the note-less exercises sound terrible, perhaps they are helping me drill some of the proper movement into my hand. But I’ve also started practicing concretely with a song. Chorus from Judas Maccabeus is a lovely Book Two tune that seems tailor-made for practicing vibrato; it’s slow and flowing and melodic, and I’ve been playing it for a long time. I’m producing some vibrato, but I am definitely still not “getting it;” overall the way I see professionals gently moving their fingers is not the way I’m moving mine, and the sounds I am making, when they are wavering at all, are tense and overwrought. The pinky can barely do anything at all. This will take time.
Finally, there’s just something about this new Gavotte. I love it, though it’s the most challenging piece I’ve worked on in quite a while. I read that Becker was a prodigious violinist, and he did in fact write this work for violin. The overwhelming majority of Suzuki works were not originally composed for violin (only three or four were), so perhaps I’m picking up somehow on the gavotte’s native-to-the-violin qualities, qualities I can maybe feel but can’t articulate. Whatever it is, playing the piece is fun and brings a challenge a measure. I’m looking forward to showing Teacher where I’m at with it here in a bit. I’ve still got a long way to go!
Thanks for reading.