June 9, 2009

It's All the Same..."The Simplicity of Playing the Violin"

There is a fairly famous story about a young violinist who studied with one of the world's noted pedagogues that chronicles the violinist's first semester of lessons with his new teacher. Apparently, every week the student would go in with loads of repertoire, asking the teacher what he would like to hear. The teacher's response: "Kreutzer 2, quarter bows, each note at 40 on the metronome."

I'm sure that we have all felt this or experienced this in some way, and all that I can say now is "Hello, I'm Samuel Thompson, I'm 38 years old and have played concerts all over the United States - and still have very strange problems with my bow arm."

Today I had my first private lesson at the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute. During this lesson, violinist Christina Zacharias was incredibly gracious and encouraging - and THOROUGH - while going through the paces of "building a better bow arm." I have to laugh a bit as the exercises that she used, although with a baroque bow (as baroque and 'early' music are the focuses of this particular course), are the SAME that I did years ago with Kenneth Goldsmith while a student at Rice University and also while studying with Marina Brubaker for a year in Houston.

Yes, it's all the same...and oddly, I'm finding myself feeling more encouraged and ready to "do the work" than feeling "hopeless", as I and I'm sure many of us have upon encountering going back to square one. So..."Hi, I'm Sam - and I have a problem with my bow arm."

Class: "Hello, Sam."

Perhaps we should start a twelve-step group of some kind for those of us who are older and still focusing on "fixing the problem". =)

More soon - orchestra rehearsal is soon and I want to spend some time in front of the mirror...


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