Monday, May 15, 2017

good days, bad days, good days.

Today is not a good day.

I had a bad lesson Saturday with the teacher who comes to my house. We discussed just dropping the piece he's had me working for 6 weeks or so, which I just can't wrap my head around. I felt like such a loser; countless students before me have played this piece because it's just one of the things that you do when you're learning viola. We left it up in the unstable air.

I'd hoped for redemption today at the lesson with the other teacher, but it was not to be. My fault, mainly. When I got there he was still working with the student before me, and then the phone rang so he spent some time with that, and we didn't get started until almost 20 minutes late and he so often shoos me out right when the hour's up...so I started the lesson with this overarching idea that "hey, this guy doesn't give a shit about you no matter how much you prep for lessons" and that just wasn't a good way to start. Buried in that, I shut down. He didn't like my scale or my lack of vibrato. I worked on vibrato all week. I work on it every day, I swear. He trotted out the "it can't be taught" meme and in my head I appended "so why bother at all?" and fell into a pit of despair. It almost got adversarial at one point when he said "let's hear the etude, do you want to do that?" and I said "if you want" and he replied with "oh, so it's going to be that kind of lesson" meaning the karen-is-in-a-mood kind of lesson. I said no no no and tried to be the good little adult amateur bad viola learner person but I just could not warm to my playing and so my mood didn't improve. I just kept quiet about it. But I hate the way I play and I hate that I work so hard and still sound so bad and no one but me cares one way or the other and they mainly just wish I would go away. 

On to the recital piece, the Negro-spiritual-played-by-old-white-lady-of-Ashkenazi-Jewish-descent (ADULTS LOOK VERY STRANGE IN RECITALS, DON'T YOU THINK? I THINK SO, JUST SAYING). When he starts with the directive "OK, play." it never goes well. And it didn't. All that work I did on this fucking inappropriate 90-second piece remained at home in my little practice room, and my performance at this lesson was lackluster. No vibrato. Yes, there was vibrato, but he said no vibrato so there must not have been any. He had me go back to the most basic thing possible: one note, bowed 3 times, with vibrato. Add a note, then another. It was as though he was re-teaching me the piece, phrase by phrase, and this was not something I wanted to think about, given that the recital is 6 days away.

As I packed up, as I left, I mentioned this thing or that thing I was planning for the summer: "see? I'm going to camp and (hopefully) won't be given baby music. see? I'm playing in a chamber group with some good cellists who are known to you. see?" as if to say take me seriously, I do work hard, I'm not a total loser. I'm tempted to bail out of this recital but I don't want to be that needy problem student that needs to be shored up for something as trivial as a 90-second piece. 

I am fortunate in that I literally have nothing to do this week except take my dog to chemo on Friday. Maybe I will manage to put this nadir of confidence behind me, or maybe I will manage to sleep through the entire day on Sunday.

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