Skyrim (Main Theme)

Day: 124
Practice Logged: 81 hours + 30 minutes
Feeling: epic third

It’s not that I’m stuck at home, per se, but we’re having a lazy Saturday afternoon around the house and I figured I’d get some practicing in.

My instructor set me up with a bunch of exercises pushing me to start dabbling in third position. THe simplest explanation for third position on the violin is that there is “first position” where your hand naturally wants to be on the neck of the violin, but where you are limited to a certain range of notes. And then there are other positions — second through eighth or something, I can’t exactly recall at the moment, so look it up — but these move your hand a certain number of steps away from that first position home base. This allows you to reach some higher notes and do so some funky double string notes that you simply can’t from first position. But third position is a kinda intermediate technique.

I printed off this sheet music for the Skyrim theme a few months ago, but it has a bunch of higher notes (you can hear them get all scratchy in the middle of the track) that you can’t reach until — as I noticed today — you slide them up to third position.

So I wrote that into the sheet music and practiced some of my transitions and almost made this song sound half decent…. well, half decent for a beginner violinist.


Day: 124
Practice Logged: 80 hours + 50 minutes
Feeling: bow-crossed

Keeping with the “I got a book of easy Disney music for Christmas”, I’ve been spending my so-called extra practice time having some fun with these tunes. When I say “extra” time, it’s because usually I work through my assigned practice first, for a half an hour or so, then spend fifteen or twenty minutes on stuff that is just for fun.

The Disney stuff is good because — like the holiday-tunes book I was working through leading into Christmas — the songs are usually (a) simple and (b) familiar enough that they count more as basic practice than anything else. The running training analogy I could use is this: if my Suzuki practice is hill training or tempo runs, then Disney-songs practice is my steady run: short, laid back, not pushing too much, and just milage to solidify endurance and fitness. It’s not intended to strengthen or extend anything.

Plus it’s fun to see some payoff, however modest, from all those technically-based classical minuets and gavottes.

I still have some work to do on this one: it’s not as difficult as it sounds, except for the tempo which is pretty quick. I hit a few wrong notes trying to keep my pace, and sped up a bit in the middle, but — hey, that’s why I’m recording myself: to catch this kind of stuff.

It’s a Small World

Day: 117
Practice Logged: 76 hours + 10 minutes
Feeling: dopey

…after all?

I haven’t been to Florida in almost exactly three years, but I spent the morning thinking about there. Not only were my parents due to fly out of Fort Lauderdale airport early this morning (they were diverted through Miami and are now far, far away from that chaos) but two couples from our running group were supposed to have run the DisneyWorld Half Marathon this morning as part of the Goofy & Dopey Challenges. It was cancelled, and they have been telling both sad tales of a lost race and uplifting tales of an unofficial and impromptu makeup run around the hotel area with 100s of their fellow Disney runners.

I couldn’t help but think that for my first unabashedly scratchy violin recording of the year I should pull out that new Disney songbook I got for Christmas…

…and I couldn’t help but think that my world is feeling quite small this morning.

Princess Leia’s Theme

Day: 107
Practice Logged: 70 hours
Feeling: sad

December 28

This is far from perfect, but I spent a good hour learning to play it today. A few minor mistakes, but the song has a wookie-load of accidentals… and I’d like to see Han Solo play as good with only three and half months of practice.

RIP Carrie Fisher :(

O’ Christmas Tree

A second holiday short for today’s rendition of “The Scratchy Beginner Viloinyst Shares His Progress“, and then maybe we’ll move onto some other music after the season no longer encourages me to butcher these oh-so-famous standards.

O’ Christmas Tree

We were driving around yesterday and I was rambling on and on about my violin, and we were talking about the value of playing different kinds of music: the value that Christmas music has in my practice (as I see it) is that because I know the song so well, it’s so familiar, it lets me re-allocate a little focus to other aspects of playing.

So, when Christmas is over it’s back to the much less familiar Suzuki books… unless… and this would be the only reason I’d ever buy one of these books, I can see a collection of, say, Disney songs having the same sort of value: simple, familiar and allowing me to refocus my practice on things like technique, form and fingering in lieu of trying to grok the song at the same time.

Silent Night

Continuing the theme of scratchy beginner holiday music, I dug into my compendium of Christmas classics and practiced this short rendition of…

Silent Night

I’ve been focusing on two things for the last month or so: (a) the assignments given to me by my instructor, which are pretty much me progressing through the Suzuki books, and (b) some pieces from a big book of holiday standards, all of them with piano accompaniment which Karin has been practicing along with me… apparently she’s got a performance planned somewhere soon.

Oh Come All Ye Faithful

So this is new. I’ve decided to add a new kind of post to this blog: recordings.

Impressed yet?

I hope not too much. As a beginner violinyst who has opted to use data and technology to help myself improve, public accountability is a big part of that. So I’ve been recording myself on video or on audio (using some very basic tools, like a GoPro or my iPhone.) And I’m going to be posting those audio clips here, collected.

Stay tuned. And let me know what you think.

Oh Come All Ye Faithful