Sunday, April 30, 2017

hey hey joe positive

One musical thing finished up this week and another will be largely finished this coming week, and I must say I'm looking forward to the break. I think I took on too much, especially with the audition thing (learn 5 pieces and pick 2) taking up a lot of space in my head.
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Today there was a local triathlon, which I used to participate in as the runner on a relay team but more importantly, my old running club hosted a water/gatorade station on the run course. And they still host it, and they hosted it today, and thanks to social media there were photos. People I haven't seen in years. They look different, they look the same. For a long time, when I was a serious runner, that club was my entire social life. I am no longer a serious runner, but today the idea of re-upping flickered across my mind. And flickered away, of course - I'm too slow, it's record-breaking heat already (96F in late April), I really really don't want to drive to St Pete to meet up for runs - but it did flicker.
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Despite hours of practice every day, things don't stick in my head or my hands the way they ought. I had a(nother) lousy lesson today; the scale and arpeggios were actually good, but the etude and the piece just sucked ass. I knew it and he knew it. The etude was so horrid that the teacher just got up and hugged me afterward, like I'd watched a puppy die or something. He got fairly close to telling me I wasn't ever going to get anywhere with viola, then backed away from that subject, and we went on. I floundered through a bit of the piece and he started packing up while I was playing (this teacher comes to my house).

For some reason, this did not leave me totally demoralized. I know I need to practice better - not more, but better. I also need to trust more in the practice that I do, i.e., don't feel I have to practice everything every day end-to-end in addition to the practice-to-fix-specific-problems. I think I will have more time to do that now.

So, not demoralized today, but there's always tomorrow: the other lesson with the other teacher who doesn't like my playing and doesn't pull any punches telling me. For that lesson, I have a scale, a Sevcik shifting exercise, a child's etude, and a 90-second recital piece. It occurs to me that he keeps lowering the bar and I continue to sink to a level not-quite-good-enough to master any of the concepts. But that's tomorrow....



Thursday, April 27, 2017

fail better.

A really lousy night's sleep can be detrimental. I've been getting cramps in my legs and feet more frequently lately, and last night I woke up several times to spasms in a particular foot muscle I'm never even aware of until it cramps. Two knives stabbing, left and right, at the same time. Not good for sleep. I dreamed I told someone about the cramps, then woke up and realized I hadn't. 

It's hot again now, summer for real, so running is less fun. Even less fun when you're tired after a lousy night's sleep, and depressed after a lousy night. Even the inaugural new shoe run didn't help. I spent 3 miles thinking about the mistakes I made last night, how ridiculous I must seem, how unfair it is that all my hard work (heh) is for nothing, could I actually be getting worse, maybe I need to quit orchestra until I learn to play better, ugh, everything is terrible...stopped the watch at 3 miles and walked home, still thinking bad thoughts. 

Saw a post from a facebook acquaintance who is obviously manic depressive, and I was reminded that my "problems" are very, very small. Yes, they are. Yes, they will fade from the front of my consciousness, and I will stand up straight and start tilting away at those windmills again. But for now I can only wait for this to pass.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

world's greatest string orchestra concert of Spring 2017

reasons I don't like orchestra:
 - I don't have the patience to sit through rehearsals where I mostly just wait while the other sections play.
 - I don't have the discipline to practice on my own.
 - Even when I do practice, I don't get enough time in rehearsal to see/hear/feel how my part fits in with the other sections.
 - The viola parts are usually trivial and/or dull.
 - When the viola parts are interesting or challenging, I don't practice enough/don't get enough playing time in rehearsal/don't get enough integration with the rest of the orchestra.
 - I don't like sitting in front, especially when there are ringers/pros in the section. Who sit behind me. 
 - It's easy to develop bad habits, and it's also easy to fall back on them all.the.time.

This comes on the heels of my personal worst concert in 5 years or so.  I didn't look at the music at all the past two days, and I really felt unmoored. I was just reading, for the most part. Which probably made no difference at all, because the parts were mostly boring, we hadn't spent much time on them in rehearsal and there were very few violas anyway, so I figured we wouldn't be heard well, if at all. But, it turns out, we were somewhat audible, and I really hate being such a weak link. So, it remains to be seen whether I will play in any orchestra next term.


I've spent quite a lot of time and energy on music since September (when I retired), but I suspect I haven't spent wisely. If there are benefits to be had, they have not yet shown themselves.

Monday, April 24, 2017

the past week

has been a roller coaster. I keep the phone on me at all times except when running. Every minute could bring a text or a new post in the mass facebook message. Miracles. Nightmares. Disasters. Love+Light and tiny little heart emojis.

I am tired. Running, worrying, constant standing (for practice) have taken a toll.

Late last week I was somewhat happier with my playing, but over the weekend it faded, and today I am not. My blossoming little vibrato faded away. My hand frame relapsed, and I'm back to curling my fingers up. My re-dedication to making-a-beautiful-sound has not yet given me any good habits; I have to think about every last thing I do on the viola, and it's like a chenga game, or a juggling act. 

In lessons I asked to go back to basics and so we did; I am doing scales and long tones and Sevcik, and my etudes are from a childrens' book (as the teacher keeps reminding me). As simple as this is, I still managed to get the first etude completely wrong, and I played it as a march instead of the singing, legato thing he envisioned. For some reason this bothered me more than any mistake would. Even my musical instincts are bad.