I have not had a violin lesson since March 2020, when the veil of pandemic descended. My last post was on my birthday, eight months ago. A few things have changed in that time – I passed a playing anniversary – 7 years on the instrument last November – and we all started a new year. We again, as we have for almost all of our country’s history, managed to elect a president capable of compassion. But much has not changed – masks, distancing, horrible economic and physical suffering, and death. Colleagues, friends, and relatives have been severely impacted. While Michael and I have been undeniably lucky, 400,000 of our fellow Americans have now died. Four hundred thousand lives. In just one country.
Teacher is OK – we have had a few interactions, but I haven’t asked about resuming lessons. I’m not totally sure why. I am not interested in Zoom violin lessons (I teach tons of Zoom karate classes, so this position is highly hypocritical), and I don’t want to make her feel uncomfortable if she is not ready to come to our condo. I have my own trepidation, but masks work and we can stand apart and open a window – Michael and I are comfortable enough with the notion. If she reached out and asked, I would say “let’s get to it.”
I have continued to play The Boy Paganini and believe I would have “passed” the piece in Teacher’s view, so about a month ago I promoted myself to the next piece in the Suzuki repertoire, the first piece in Book Five, a Gavotte-titled Bach tune. For some reason, this volume does not include notes on the source material, but this Gavotte – really two gavottes strung together – is a violin arrangement of the fifth movement of Bach’s unaccompanied Cello Suite Number Six. It’s the second piece I play that’s excerpted from one of the cello suites; the Book Three finale sources from Suite Three.
The new piece is all about double stop accents, unsurprising to those familiar with the character of the cello suites (check out Yo-Yo Ma’s 2015 Proms play-through on YouTube). Virtually every series of four slurred eighth notes, the primary motif, begins with a grace-note or full-on double stop. But it’s in D Major, one of the violin’s most natural keys, and the basics of the piece really aren’t too technically challenging for me – I’m not saying I can play through with any kind of loveliness yet at all, but I am able to make good progress on my own.
Jenny Yun has a great production of this gavotte:
The past two years have been extraordinarily challenging for me. But when I play, the rest of the world fades away – virus, politics, riots, work, all of it. I hope you have something similar.
Thanks for reading.