Sunday, February 21, 2016

positive's progress

mediocre week, mediocre lesson Saturday, lots of time wasted. Finally made some progress on the placement recordings I need for camp, though.

I pulled my damn soleus, again. So no running, again.

Yesterday's lesson was very much a waste, with not much playing but Mr Critical Teacher doing a lot of talking, sometimes re-telling much-told anecdotes (Michael R and the Vibrato, again! how many times have I heard that one?) and sometimes just winging it, going nowhere. He seemed surprised to learn that I practice scales and arpeggios for 30 minutes a day, and suggested that may be too much. Too much? Scales? How can this be? Last year sometime, he told me not to practice scales with vibrato until I could vibrate every note, not just some of them. So, for the past year or so I've been playing scales senza vibrato. Yesterday he said something like "you never play scales with vibrato" and when I reminded him of what he'd said previously, told me I must have misinterpreted what he meant. I wonder if, a year from now, he'll tell me I need to practice scales more.

Sometimes when we're talking about a Thing I can't do (vibrato, speed, tone), he'll seem at a loss on how to help me with it. I'll gently try to steer: "you've been doing X for fifty years; you've been teaching it for 30; how do you help your *other* students with this Thing?" Sometimes he'll reply with something I can use. Other times he'll just start reminiscing about all his kids, and it's clear that what he thinks he's doing with me is no more "teaching viola" than what I do with a viola can be called "playing music on the viola".  

Sigh. Why do I do this? Because he makes me work; because his hyper-criticalness matches or even surpasses my own; because he thinks I'm not capable of of ever learning this thing. He has unwittingly tapped into my secret fear - that I'm too stupid or clumsy or old or unmusical to learn - which makes me want to try harder. It's not exactly true that he makes me work; I just work. Sometimes he will notice that I've improved a tiny bit, and the work is validated. But, sigh.