The Scratchy Violinyst: Take (Year) Two

13 September 02017 (6 days ago)4 minutes of your time

Day: 366
Practice Logged: 202 hours + 5 minutes
Feeling: Accomplished

So, here we are: One year later.

We live in a very odd sort of world, don’t we?. Every day many of us go online and actively try to create this illusion that we are accomplishing great things. We post images of our kids. We brag about our vacations. Link to maps of the places we’ve run or hiked or biked. We snapshot dishes of food that we’ve cooked, or ordered, or found in mysterious places on crazy vacations. We showcase art that we’ve written or drawn or knitted or captured with a lens or built out of supplies from the hardware store. We tell stories about our work and lament about the fleeting opportunities for play.

We post it online to …what? Maybe to justify our days here.

And then, of course, we ignore the fact that everyone else is doing the exact same thing… mostly because to pat someone else on the back for an accomplishment, big or small, permanent or fleeting, physical or mental would be to admit that we (a) recognize the effort but (b) haven’t bothered to do that thing ourselves.

So then we post even more online and even more we attempt to justify all our days, days spent efforts of varying voracity towards often trivial goals. And more people ignore each other. One-up each other. And on… and on…

I guess I’m trying to say that I understand if you’ve stopped paying attention to my many justifications.

I tell stories and post complex essays on weird topics.

I brag about running too much… or too little.

I post photographs of my family and our vacations.

I’ve recently started peppering the internet with my little doodle cartoons.

And, of course, I’ve started documenting this violin thing.

Which brings us to now… here we are: one year later.

One year ago today I cracked open the case of my violin for the first time, and for the first time picked up the instrument with an intent to play it. I’d hardly so much as held one previously. I’d never drawn a bow across one’s strings. And I certainly had never owned one or played one.

In that year I’ve taken lessons almost weekly.

In that year I’ve learned how to tune, re-string, and clean this delicate contraption.

In that year I’ve purchased a dozen different books of music in a dozen different styles.

In that year I’ve studied scales, positions, vibrato, bowing, intonation, double-stops, pizzicato, staccato, dynamics, timing, and slurs.

In that year I’ve carried my instrument on the train, across bridges, into the wilderness, through the city streets, in a snowstorm and hidden from a summer downpour.

In that year I’ve tried music from Bach through Gaga, styles from classical to bluegrass, songs that are slow and melodies so fast I can barely move my fingers that quickly even when they are not required to do so precisely as well.

In that year I have played for family, while camping, alone in my basement, online for videos, in a room full of strange seniors to a room full of friends, in time with my wife on her piano to keeping time for a guitar, and of course in the second floor studio where I take my lessons.

In that year I have answered the question: when can you call yourself a violinist? Answer: you just kinda know when you know enough to say it aloud…

And I’ve done much of that online, documented, recorded, posted for all of my readers to see, or hear, or even watch. It has maybe not so much justified it, but it has added to the illusion that I’m accomplishing some great thing. Thus today starts year two. It may not be much of an accomplishment, and maybe you’ve already stopped paying attention to my continued justifications, but I’ll write on… play on… for whatever simple purpose that might hold.

Stay tuned.

(Tuned? Get it. It’s a violin joke.)


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Brad sometimes thinks that if you are reading this blog and expecting genius, you’re almost certain to be disappointed.

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