Practice Logged: 56.5 hours
Feeling: relaxed in the wrist
My most recent lesson was with a substitute instructor. The guy I normally learn with was away, sick, or something, so when I arrived at the studio I was met by this other dude who only knew me from a paper list of names he was holding.
It turned out pretty good, tho: I took the bump in stride and we spent our thirty minutes playing the exact same scale over, and over, and over with a big focus on technique. I don’t mean to imply we haven’t focused on technique before, but in lieu of working on music, per se, this lesson was 100% “look at your wrist” & “doublecheck at your grip” & “watch you posture.”
I also noticed an interesting violinist dynamic across the invisible gap of these two professional-ish violinists: the sub, obviously not the official teacher, made it clear that while he was a Grade 8 violinist, my real teacher was a Grade 10 violinist, so — y’know — pecking order, blah blah, superior advice, blah blah, don’t want to step on your instructors toes, kinda thing.
I filled the gap in that conversation by absurdly noting that “well, I’m a Grade zero violinist, so… you both know better than me.” He laughed… because he already knew that.
But then I got to thinking, later, on my way home and later in the evening while Karin and I were duet’ing on some piano-violin holiday mashup music, prepping for our debut over Christmas: so.. when do I get to call myself a “violinist?” I’m not in a rush or anything and I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew with such a label, but, definitions are important.
In fact, when does anyone get to call themselves a ____blank____?
I suppose I could qualify that label, and I do: I’m a beginning violinist. Think of me more as a student violinist. Or call me a noob violinist. That kind of adjective appended to the front of the title gives it the appropriate lift as to not plant expectations too firmly in the ground around the feet of a prospective audience. As in, don’t expect me to take requests: I know about twenty songs, and five of those are tolerable enough not have you paying me to STOP playing.
Yet, I’ve been carting this instrument around with me more than I would have imagined, particularly when I commute to work with it on lesson days, and I’ve been asked by strangers, coworkers, baristas: “Oh… do you play the violin?”
“Not for money or anything.”
“A little. I can play a few songs.”
“I just picked it up a few months ago.”
And it strikes me as a philosophical kinda question that has no real answer other than to say “you’ll have the answer when you know it.” I mean, I don’t NOT play the violin. After three months of (modestly speaking) pretty rigorous both-feet-in practice and learning, I CAN play. I can play more than I expected to play at this stage.
So, I’m a scratchy, grade zero, noob, student, beginning violinist… and I guess, until someone higher up the violinist pecking order informs me otherwise, for now I’ll just work on erasing or replacing some of those adjectives.
And now some music…
(by a beginner violinyst)
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Oh Come All Ye Faithful