Time and Angles

When I started playing over three years ago, my practice sessions wouldn’t last more than 45 minutes, but as the months went by I started to increase my practice time.  I worked up to days when I kept it up for over two hours.  But then in July of 2015, I had a pretty significant lower back incident that caused my whole world to stop for a minute.  Or, more precisely, for a few weeks.  As I slowly recovered and began playing again, it was clear that sessions of the duration I’d been doing were not going to be a regular feature of my practice.  My lower back, which has been grumpy since I was a teenager and had finally protested in earnest, was only going to let me do so much.  So, since a year ago July, I’ve practiced for an hour, maybe an hour and a half at the very most.

But on Saturday night I just kept playing – I got home from work and went straight to the violin and played for about two hours.  Then yesterday I did it again – I took an early afternoon stroll through the Art Institute for a couple of hours then came home and practiced for over two hours; I’m not exactly sure how long.  I always take breaks to walk around and stretch in between pieces a bit, even in my shorter sessions, of course, so I did do that. I’m grateful the body is cooperating.

Part of my motivation is that we’re more or less settled into the new place, so I don’t have other big at-home tasks hanging over my head like I have for the past six weeks.  We’ve still got work to do at the old place to get it rented out, but at this point the work is mostly in the hands of the pros we’ve hired out.  My vocational work is also occupying a ton of my head space right now, and one of my primary release valves for that is the violin.  Overall, I’ve been feeling the need for some serious R&R, and for me the violin is a ready-made source.

I’m also at a major “back to basics” moment in my playing – I mentioned in a post a couple of weeks ago that Teacher honed in on my bowing for a lesson, and we did so again last week.  She’s got me standing in front of a mirror to make sure I’m holding everything where it needs to be.  The main point of focus is keeping the proper angle of the bow – perpendicular to the bridge – as it moves across the strings.  I’ve been letting that go, and I’m now at the point where it’s important to strive to get it going properly so I can elevate my tone production to the next level.

Of course, it’s quite a challenge to re-work the gross motor arm bowing motion when I haven’t been paying it much mind for quite a while.  And it’s odd to stare at myself in the mirror.  But playing more slowly and working on the tonal quality of something basic like scales is actually quite satisfying to me.  I’ve made some good progress in the past week, and I’m hopeful that a more proper bow handling angle will get drilled into my body soon enough.

Today I do have to go meet some of those workers I referenced back at our old place here in a bit, but when I get home I plan on doing another long practice session.  The bow and mirror beckon.

Thanks for reading.

Ryan

One comment

  1. Bowing is surprisingly hard! I’ll be working on some difficult section (especially on the e string for some reason), and slip towards the bridge, and BLEARGH! badness! It’s frustrating, but the mirror seems to be helpful. (And for me, getting to the point where I can watch something other than my fingers for a moment.)

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