Duet and Progress

The Bach Concerto for Two Violins is supposed to be a duet, so yesterday Teacher and I started on that part of the project.  We played through the first page or so twice, and I think it went well!    Playing duets with her is always fun, enabling me to appreciate my progress on the instrument in ways my solo practice can’t.  She’s able to carry me, especially on this piece, wherein the rhythm is quite tricky and I still make many mistakes.

I’ve still got a long way to go on the concerto – the first three pages are coming along, but the last two pages need a lot of work.  It’s nice to polish one area by playing it as a duet while still hewing out the rough edges of another part, just trying to understand and play the correct notes.  The parts of the piece we play in second position are especially taxing for me.  But I’m starting to imagine that it will all come together.

As we wrapped up the lesson, Teacher and I talked about teaching adults, which both of us do as a part of our vocation.  She observed that many times adults think they will start playing the violin and will be able to play well quite quickly.  They often get frustrated and quit when they can’t make beautiful music within a few months.  We speculated that the reason might be that many tasks we undertake are indeed not as challenging as the violin – a baseline competence in many pursuits comes quickly for many people.  It’s easy to throw in the towel when we discover that things aren’t as easy as we wish.  The martial arts, which I teach to adults, are also challenging, but I think many beginner practitioners experience ancillary rewards – increased overall fitness and training as a part of a community, for example – that aren’t quite as accessible as when the product – such as making music – is the goal.  But still, many quit, just the same.

Perhaps my playing in childhood helped me set the bar realistically for how I would progress.  Though I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect when I took up playing five years ago, I certainly never expected it to be easy or quick!  The hard work is rewarding.  As Teacher and I played our duet Michael came around – he had not yet left for work – he said goodbye and told us he was impressed.  That’s progress!

Thanks for reading.

Ryan

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