Having planned (promised?) to post a video of some kind after every 24 hours of accumulated violin practice, and having hit 48 hours last night, I realize I probably need to do some recording tonight.
Practice Logged: 32.5 hours
Let’s just be upfront about this: I’ve taken on a big challenge in this attempt to learn the violin. Big. Huge. And, as it turns out, I don’t actually have a lot of time to meet my goal. I’ve given myself ten years, sure. But this is averaging thirty minute chunks each day… on a good day… I’m barely across the start line and I already see a pacing problem.
So (and here comes the math) even optimally, assuming that I’m diligently getting in that minimum, and assuming no breaks (literal, mental, or otherwise) for 365 days per year over ten years (optimistic if I say so myself) I’ve still only really got time to bank about 1,800 hours of practice.
That’s a lot of music, to be sure.
But is it enough to become proficient… or even qualitatively good?
Let’s be upfront about something else: learning to play the violin was (though, only partly) a kind of personal experiment in adult education. There’s a genuine interest and a blossoming passion now that I have an instrument, definitely, but if I’m going to learn I’m going to take a rational, science-based approach to this thing: See, I’ve been reading quite a lot, listening quite a lot, thinking quite a lot about this idea called (though, not always) purposeful practice.
Practice with purpose.
Time well-spent on actively, strategically, methodically, and adaptively learning… not just logging hours with a bow in my hand.
Now, we’ve been using the Suzuki lesson books as a foundation of my lessons, but Suzuki –while grounded in a kind of quasi-methodical approach to learning where a deconstructed and progressive climb towards new skills is inbuilt to the lessons– Suzuki is really more about forcing the student player (mostly young kids) to add a purpose-like component to their otherwise rote practice time. Kids play, practice, learn, because their parents loom over them and make them put in the time. Suzuki piggybacks on that, teaching skills in between the gaps of the otherwise mindless logging of hours. Kids (the average, ordinary just-learning and instrument kids) don’t need to think too much: they follow step-by-step, and after playing each song a hundred times they can’t help but have picked up the incremental skills.
But purposeful practice is different.
After thirty-some hours (still so early, I know) into this adventure, I’m acutely aware that when I play it is definitely not just logging time: I’m not just down in my basement sawing away on the strings and hoping something music-like emerges from the mess. And unlike a kid, I don’t have someone, anyone, looming over my shoulder making sure I get my time in.
So I’ve been working in a very trial-and-error, adaptively-correcting as I go along every minute adjusting slightly to re-target myself, thinking methodically about the sound and the action and the feeling that blends from everything that I do. It’s a very mental kind of learning, linked to the notion of honing physical strength and muscle memory while hearing every note that pours from the instrument and tweaking those movements to refine (even if that is still quite a coarse adjustment) as I play.
I’m progressing. Some days it feels fast, because I can already play simple songs with modest proficiency. Other days my lack of skill is a fingernails-on-chalkboard cacophony. The purposeful part comes in recognizing which is which, and not wasting time on the wrong side of that equation.
Until September 2016 I’d never even held a violin, but learning to play was one of those things I’d been thinking about for years.
So, about two months before my 40th birthday I decided to (finally) buy an instrument and learn to play. Lessons, lots of practice, and watching countless YouTube videos.
I’m not going to promise regular uploads of my playing, but I am trying to record a bit of video every couple of weeks to get an idea of how I’m progressing… which often seems like very little when you’re listening to yourself play.
In this video:
Suzuki Book 1 – Perpetual Motion
Suzuki Book 1 – Minuet 1 (Bach)
Practice Logged: 23.5 hours
That my fingers are not nearly as flexible as, say, a six year old who is trying to learn the violin.
Miss C, needing to practice for twenty! whole! minutes! on her piano, is off on her own tickling the keys for variable-minute segments of quasi-quality practice from inside the office where the piano now lives. These short stints of focused repetition of her music is punctuated by a short pause, wherein she traipses out to the living room to ask, “has it been twenty minutes yet?” This is followed by a sigh and a grumbling return to the keyboard when it is revealed that, no, it’s only been eleven minutes, go finish your practice! On the other hand, her father picks up his (still newish and novel) violin and retreats to the basement. There he opens a computer, his phone, and two music books onto various surfaces. Violin propped to his shoulder he promptly loses track of the time for nearly two hours as he tries to get some random music he downloaded from the internet to sound vaguely how it should actually sound. There is something to be said for impassioned curiosity to succeed, I guess.
June 17 – Something You Are Working At
aka. Post 17 of Those 30 Posts in June Blog-Every-Day Posts
Practice makes perfect.
If you read this blog more often than I do, you probably don’t need a reminder that I kinda recently kicked off a daily photo project using a little daily assignment randomizer. You already know. You’ve been seeing the results and either shaking your head at the random pixels that are clogging up your browser or pondering your loyalty to this increasingly drivel-filled site.
For the benefit of years in the future when I’m reading this, that’s what I’m working on right now. Daily photos. A daily picture. An effort, every day, to get out a camera of some kind and snap a photo of some kind, to learn a new skill or practice an old skill or feel the crunch of a deadline of some kind.
Ideally this will make me a better photographer. I’ve been neglecting my expensive camera equipment for so long that some of the triggers that I had felt were narrowing so close to that bliss of being finely tuned, once long ago, ancient in my memory, those triggers are now rusty with disuse.
I used to revel in this. And I miss it.
So, more daily pics: for me as much as you.
Now, here are some bird pictures.
This particular bird is explained in a previous post.
Oh, look… June! And there was something I was forgetting… ah, right: those thirty posts I write every year in June. That again. For the fifth year in a row I’m back to a month of daily blogging: each day a new post on a new topic, but on the same blog-per-day topic as last year, creating another set of Those 30 Posts in June. Today, that post just happens to be about something that I’ve:
Failed… Dad Duties
It’s the small things, and anyone will know who spent any amount of time with me this weekend as we traversed the rocky mountains, sometimes by car and sometimes by foot, on our epic relay race (for which there will certainly be a more detailed report forthcoming) that I felta little guilty about what my participation meant sacrificing: my dad duties.
Scoff if you will, but it really is the small things. It’s the fact that for the last ten months she has been diligently practicing and improving, fighting to gain ground on a skill that is easy to flub and difficult to master. But she is become quite a proficient pianist. Four years of lessons are paying off.
And I missed the recital because I couldn’t quite make it back in time. At the time of the show I was somewhere east of Edson, zipping down highway sixteen at a hundred and change. Dad fail. A small fail. But… it’s the small things, after all.
a mash-up of (making) music & television
As a self-proclaimed tech-savvy guy, the issue of copyright has always been very complex for me.
On the one hand, I’m a creator of text, images, audio and video, a creator whose content (while it may be neither epic nor worth stealing) is mine and I would like it to stay that way. The idea that someone could grab bits and pieces of something I’ve spawned from whatever wellspring of creativity lurks inside me, and redistribute it without credit or recompense occasionally give me chills. After all, no matter how much we ourselves give away, there is forever a small granule in our hearts that seeks even the smallest payment, even if that is in nothing so much more than a nod of acknowledgement for the effort.
On the other hand, I am a school of the remix. My early dabbling in the electronic artists’ paintbox is littered with countless examples of carefree reconstitution of bytes into abstractly original, but reductively derivative creations. My so-called art was a blossoming reflection of an amateur remix, literal bits and borrowed files into new collections of the same. These exercises sprung forth from blood, sweat and borrowed tears with the single intention of self-education towards the singular goal of some future fortune and fame.
The holidays creep closer and closer… and music is in the air. Or, well at least the numerous Christmas tunes that have shown up as piano practice homework this week are in the air.
Work days are down to count that fits on one hand.
Run club is planning parties rather than routes.
School is probably already in vacation mode with only two days left.
Gifts are bought.
Tree is trimmed.
And it almost seems like this thing is going to flit by once again with a blur and a whir and that will be that for another year.
To be honest, I always tend to get a little more excited for the New Year than for Christmas. I’m a flip-of-the-calendar equals a fresh-new-sense-of-renewal-kinda-guy. I like to think about new project and new goals, and assess all the crazy I’ve been pursuing for the year previous.
My running is nearly on track again (within a single klick of my tracking tally).
I’m considering the implications of taking on another photo-a-day or video-a-day project of some kind. (I’m leaning towards the video one.)
And 2015 is still looking fresh and new, like an unopened package of awesome sitting on the shelf, fresh from the store and waiting to be cracked open and enjoyed.
And maybe we’ll get some new piano songs, too.
With a keyboard and lots and lots and lots and lots of time.
It was report card day last week. They don’t send them home in sealed manila envelopes like they used to do back when I was in school. There’s no opportunity for a crafty kid to hide it in the bottom of their backpack until mom or dad gets curious about it’s absence.
No. We get an email notification that the report card is ready for download.
She’s not doing bad. She got a solid streak of A’s. But she also got a couple of B’s in a couple core classes and so there was some family discussion required.
I don’t recall having much homework in grade two. It doesn’t mean I didn’t. I just don’t remember grade two. I couldn’t even tell you my teacher’s name.
She doesn’t have a lot of homework yet. But yet there is homework to be done. Reading. Vocabulary lists. That type of thing. Oh, and don’t even mention the piano practice. That’s becoming a four-letter word in our house, at least as much as evokes fits of yelling and screaming by multiple people.
At least swimming lessons just stay at the pool. Swimming is my domain. Karin gets dance. And we split piano. And you can’t practice the backstroke in the bathtub.
We had a family discussion about grades. We’re not worried. It’s not like some college is going to pull up her file from 2014 and say, “oh… look you got a ‘B’ here in grade two. Admission declined.” But this is the tender age when habits start to form, right? Study habits. Expectations for achievement, that type of thing. The idea that homework gets done after we get home and before the television gets turned on.
So we did homework. And I took some photos. “Oh, daddy…”
Yeah, I slept in this morning and missed my early wake up call for the standard Sunday long run. #notsad I hope all my fellow runners enjoyed the hot, hot weather: they should be done their 32k by now!