Thursday, October 2, 2014

on the verge of thirds

Back to the imaging center today, for the third time. The staff seem friendlier each visit. The ultrasound tech told me she played cello for 21 years and comes from a musical family; mother and sister graduated from Iowa. The radiologist (masters-age and very fit-looking) has the same name as a very good local masters runner but is not that guy, so we joked about it. Everything was fairly quick and very painless. There were a lot of patients there, some of them pregnant (which I will never be), and some of them bald, which I hope not to be. Of course it's too soon to think about any of that yet. I might find out something tomorrow, but it will likely be Monday. And there is no point in worrying about any of this. It's either happened or it hasn't.

In the light of day, in light of everything else, last night's petty grievances about orchestra rehearsal seem, well, petty. I play for me, not for anyone else, and there are some things to be learned from playing in this orchestra, so let's just agree to a potential (but not absolutely guaranteed) waste of two hours every Wednesday, and get on with the learning part. Something interesting is happening lately, over the past week or so: I am getting some sense I didn't have before regarding the distance between notes, especially thirds. Right now, as it happens, thirds are everywhere: in the arpeggios and broken thirds I have to play each week; in the etude I'm working on; in pieces I am learning for lessons and orchestra and fun. On viola, the interval of a third (on a single string) is covered by 3 fingers, and depending on the kind of third (major or minor) you will either have all your fingers a whole step apart, or one of them will be a half-step from its neighbor. Teachers tell you all the time to use guide fingers to help with intonation - for example, instead of putting down the first finger and then guessing at where 3 should go, put the 2nd finger down too, and from there your third finger will automatically fall where it needs to go. In other words, if your hand frame is right, your fingers will be where they need to be. Of course, the frame changes the farther up the fingerboard you go. But anyway, somehow my left hand is getting a better sense of whole-step and half-step distances, and all these thirds-happy arpeggios and etudes are sounding much more in tune, and I am not making as many panicked guesses at notes, so I can concentrate more on other things like tone or volume or what-have-you.

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