jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
[personal profile] jazzfish
Playing a stringed instrument is hard. It's not all that physically demanding, but it requires precision and dexterity, which have never been traits I associate with myself.

Too, I've only been at it for a year and a half. I have no recollection of what I sounded like after a year and a half of cello (and the timeline there is fuzzy anyway; do I count from when I started in grade school orchestra? or when I started with private lessons under Dr Boyce, from the beginning of Suzuki book 1?) but I doubt I was all that musical. Certainly it was years before I willingly played outside of first position.

Playing a stringed instrument is hard, and I would do well to remember this.

That doesn't make my viola sound any better, though. I am reasonably certain that I'm better than I was a year ago. I am less certain that I'm any better than I was six months ago.

I'm at the point where habits from cello are actively working against me. To take one example, when I play a fourth above an open string I place my third finger and instinctively think "four," because on cello that would be the fourth finger. This causes confusion when using my actual fourth finger. I'm trying to train myself out of that; it's not yet stuck.

There is also my general inability to relax into things, which seems to be at the root of my difficulty getting the sound I want. It's hard to sense the contact point (bow on string) when you're too tense to feel the bow gripping the string, and it's hard to keep the bow moving in a straight line when you're not engaging your whole arm in the process.

Some part of the problem is that my practice schedule has fallen off in the last six months, for obvious reasons. (In related news, the forty-hour work-week is some bullshit, both in general and in the specific case of how I'm spending it.) There's also my ongoing inability to hear the difference between a minor and major chord, which ought to be easy, and my tendency to not notice when my pitch starts drifting off until I play an open string and it sounds jarring.

Point being, my playing is not where I want it to be.

Ira Glass:
Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.
And so I stick with it. Because maybe it'll get better, and because every single time I walk out of a lesson with that feeling of this is awesome, i can do this.

Maybe it's a lie, but it's a useful one for now.
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jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
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Adventures in Mamboland

"Jazz Fish, a saxophone playing wanderer, finds himself in Mamboland at a critical phase in his life." --Howie Green, on his book Jazz Fish Zen

Yeah. That sounds about right.

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