Saturday, July 30, 2016

you can't always get what you want.

I found out today that 9th/10th grade all-state audition requirements include a chunk of Mazas 18, at 118. About 70% of it is doable by me right this minute, but if I had all summer I could learn it. How can 9th and 10th graders do it, all of it, in tune, at tempo, nicely? The trills and downshifts in that one slurred run, argh.  

Anyway, I could conceivably audition for all-state and reasonably hope for a spot, except for the little matter of my age. You might say, "so what, Joe Positive, you don't have to actually earn a place in a kid's orchestra to prove to yourself that you're learning. Just keep on learning, enjoy the journey..." But it's not that I want to get into all-state. I want the experience of auditioning, I want the audition hanging over my head to make me learn and polish a piece. I want to finish something I start. The process of preparing for all-state auditions gives kids something important and intangible. I get that once a year at most, at recital time. It would be nice to have more of that.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

dog days

These are the worst days of the year.

Physically unwell, whether due to age or general unwellness I just don't know. This morning I had heartburn from the start of my run; I made it about 4 miles and then decided fuck it, I'll walk. Could not eat anything at all until after noon. Felt better after that, but skipped the walk this evening. Feet have been cramping all night, not good if I practice viola while standing, which I do. Will I be able to run tomorrow? I don't know.

At work I am busy with something I don't know anything about. I worry that I will break something. Despite this ignorance and sense of incompetence, I am also bored. The technology is nothing new; it will always be nothing new (i.e., TSQL). We are not using this old technology to do anything new or interesting either. This is a dead end, not where I wanted to be at this stage. I am counting the days until retirement.

My lack of motivation has almost extended to music. Almost, but not quite. I am teacherless at the moment, so tonight I put aside the things I had been working on for lessons and camp, and just played...scales. Light fingers, heavy bow scales, accelerations up to 8 notes/bow and even some goofy tries at 12/bow. And some exercises from Sevcik 8 and 9, which I haven't had time for in a long while. I was pleasantly surprised at how much easier these were now that I can read better; knowing what key I was in plus being able to read ahead helped me find the right interval so much more easily. 

Something about this kind of woodshedding is very soothing. I don't have to try to be musical, just get these foundation skills more solid. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

the tipping point

This latest discussion over on has pushed my buttons. There are a few participants who are very open about their contempt for adult beginner string players. It reminds me of when my teacher told me that "everyone" (he and his colleagues) hates listening to adults play, hates working with them, only does it for the money. That anyone can say that and not care who hears it - indeed, to say it to the audience who would least appreciate it - really blows my mind.

I am especially sensitive to ageism lately, to the point where *I* cringe to see adults playing string instruments or trying to describe their experiences learning. The little asshole voice in my head says "not for you, not for you, that world is not for you, you will always be out of place, you will always look silly and ridiculous." Maybe learning to play this instrument should just be for my own enjoyment, to be heard only by myself and the dogs, and whatever teacher will put up with me.

ten years after

Ten years ago my dearest friend committed suicide. He would have been 51 this year.