Monday, March 27, 2017

If Kafka wrote stories about clowns

...that's what our current government is like: Kafka stories about clowns.

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My little lymphoma dog is back on chemo after a neutropenia-induced vacation. She's tolerating chemo well, but that may be the prednisone she's still on. It makes her hungry all the time. She who has been underweight her whole life is now a tank.

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My best friend's husband is very ill.

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The overuse injury (thank you, Simon Fischer and Nathan Cole) I flirted with last week seems to have settled down.

Otherwise, I feel well physically, better than anytime in the last couple of years. I'm able to run a bit over 50 miles a week, mostly slowly but sometimes a little brisk. I sleep well.

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I still haven't recorded the audition pieces, and I am stressed out about it. I was supposed to record today, but I bailed on it. I wasn't ready and I knew I would get very frustrated if I tried, and I just didn't want to deal with that. I have already missed one deadline and am about to miss a few others, and it's my own damn fault for picking these pieces that are over my head. Why why why? Even I know that for auditions you're supposed to pick something that's sort of easy and then polish it; you're not supposed to bash through something that's so far beyond you that you (and everyone listening) are on tenterhooks waiting for a flub...Every once in a while I remember it's only music, and of course I'm not going to sound very good, and if I want to go to a camp I need to make these recordings and not think too hard about what I really sound like and look like. But, sigh. It's sooooo god-awful. He said I should play that fluffy Nardini duet and something from Suzuki 3, and he was right.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

on the bright side: TIL

Today I learned that wrist vibrato is initiated by the wrist, and the fingers go along for the ride, so to speak. The fingers have to be flexible so they can stay on whatever note but still let the wrist and hand move, but the fingers don't start the the vibrato or keep it going. That would be like the tail wagging the dog.

Why do I say I learned this today, when it's only what every teacher + every article + every book + every video + Simon Fischer and Nate Cole and all the rest of the stringplaying world have been telling me for like 8 years? I've been focusing on vibrato for the past several weeks, going back to basic drills and trying some new ones. After all this time, I finally have enough coordination to actually watch what's happening while I listen. So after all these years I finally put two and two together and learned what I already knew.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

beware the ides of March.

Today was the 3rd Annual Recording of the Placement/Audition Pieces for Summer Camp. Every year this causes me way more stress than it's worth.

This year I picked a neato duet by Michael Kimber, which had been suggested to me by a former teacher. I asked Critical Man to record it with me. He thought it was over my head (and told me so after one reading), but agreed to try it. I worked on it for a few weeks and went to his house to record it today.

His opinion of my playing is fairly poor, and mostly he doesn't bother to hide it. But he does slip into teacher mode, finding some thing in the thicket of bad notes and poor sound that he can spend time on and fix, and sometimes he's really effective. During those times, I almost think that he thinks I can be helped, and that he's not rolling his eyes and making gagging noises behind the teacher mask.

But I know it's a mask, and sooner or later it always comes off. Today, before we even started on the recording he made some remark I can't remember exactly, some refrain about kids just "getting it" while I, oafish adult, trip myself up trying to apply logic to things. Not a particularly promising start to the session. We recorded one take of the duet; it was ok for the first 2/3 until I flubbed a few notes and my playing grew tentative. Still, it was really about as good as my amateurishness would allow. As I packed up I said I wished I could change some things about my sound. What do you wish you could change, and why, asked Concerned Teacher Mask. I said I wished I had better control of my tone, and I wished I had a better vibrato - more speed, more continuity, more control so I could use it the way I want. And I wished I could do more with right and left hands simultaneously. Oh, I can't teach that, he said, mask slipping away. That's something I just "got", the ability to make whatever sound I imagined. There's no lesson for that. And coordinating right and left, well, that comes from neural networks that you just don't have. UNSPOKEN STAGE WHISPER: and you never will, because you're an old lady! Ever conciliatory, I left the check on the music stand, also a brand-new pencil for good measure, saw myself out. Went home and listened to the recording, emailed asking for please one more take next week but willing to accept No for an answer if he feels it's hopeless or a waste of his time. 

Old lady in a Dead Kennedys Nazi Punks Fuck Off t-shirt here, adolescent rant forthcoming: SOMETIMES I HATE HIM SO MUCH, SRLSY!!!!! I work so hard, and all he ever does is look down his nose at me and say "amateur" with the sneer that seems built into the French pronunciation of the word.

But

The fact is that I work this hard because that's just the way I am.
I work this hard because in some way, I want to.
I am learning, although lately I feel that everything I learn comes with a price tag, and that price is a deeper realization of how much I still don't know.
This happens every spring and I should feel damn lucky to get through it.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

I don't know what to make of anything.

My little dog friend has lymphoma and though the docs say the chemo is helping, I think I see her fade a bit each week, sometimes each day. During her chemo-break she also stopped prednisone and almost immediately started feeling and acting sick. One more week off chemo and back on prednisone, and she's a hungry little puppy again. But I have started taking hunger to mean health, and food to mean a cure, and this is a mistake. She's hungry because prednisone makes her hungry, and if she had half a brain she'd be asking me hey, why are you doing this to me. She's always been a picky eater, and it almost seems wrong to stuff her full of food and think yay, she's cured. She's not. And even when (if) she starts chemo again, there's 4 or 5 more months of it. She's so sweet and so dumb. She doesn't know what's happening to her.

Today the so-called president went crazy again for the umpteenth time, accusing his predecessor of "having his wires tapped" (quotes courtesy of the prez,and it sounds like "having your tubes tied"). The guy really is crazy, and the fact that he manages to remain in office makes me despair.