I’m using the open strings in some ways that may not be quite kosher, and I’m using them in others that I’m happy to defend and continue to use. I’m definitely trying to finger as if I have a capo a whole step up from the scroll, but it’s much easier and smoother to slur on one string than to slur on a crossing. I’ll have to see what my teacher’s feedback is this coming Tuesday.
In general though, a great weekend. My pinky is still sore, but it’s a soreness that’s going away and getting less, so I’m confident that as long as I go easy, I’ll manage to use this thing without ruining my hands. I may even be able to play it like an actual violist someday!
Like someone who actually has a snail’s chance of someday playing a viola for real! It’s amazing! Watch!
*plays a half-scale up from an open string*
See? See? See how the pinky was in tune and arched like a Real Violist©’s? See that? Watch again!
*does it again*
I AM GOD! I HAVE A PINKY!! I’m going to go off and do it a few million times to show off at myself and feel invincible now!
Updated: I have to not do something a million times to show off when I suss it out. My arm hurts now. And what am I going to go do? Watch a Styx concert DVD and knit. Well, I’m getting my money’s worth out of these things at the ends of my arms, at least.
– is not a good thing. When using my pinky, I need to push down a bit more decisively on the string in order to get a good, clear sound.
However, when my pinky collapses, that means that not only do I have to push harder (because of the longer moment arm of the collapsed finger), but the entire pressure is carried by the first knuckle at the base of the finger. Which then hurts.
As it’s done at a low level all damn week long.
Arches carry weight and downward pressure better than straight 2x4s. Arched fingers carry weight and pressure better than straight fingers do. I need to work out a way to keep at least a small arch in my pinky while still hitting the proper notes. I think I’m going to continue to mark the fifth up on the open strings with china marker dots and just woodshed on half-scales up a fifth on each open string just so I can concentrate on the physicality of getting it right and how it feels more than the whole shebang of intonation, tone quality, clarity, bowing, fingering … all the zillion things that have to come together. For now, those zillion things are simply too much for me to work on, and I have to concentrate more on the shape of that finger, or else the pain will keep me from being able to approach any of the other components. The healthy physical manipulation of the device and of my hand must come first. Other things will follow.
It’s also been difficult to keep my third finger from sliding forward as I try to reach up with the pinky. I seem to need to go on tip-toe with it to keep it from sliding out of place, especially if it’s a half-step ahead of the second finger. (The furthest finger up on a half-step pair always seems to work best if it’s on tip-toe. When there’s a whole step between two fingers, the furthest one up can lay back a bit.)
It seems easier to hit that fifth up each open string by thinking of the viola as a weirdly shaped guitar held in a clumsy fashion. I don’t know why, but I seem to put my hand on the neck differently when I think of it that way, and it appears to help. I hope it will also stop getting sore near the base of my pinky.
I’ve also dealt a little bit with the first of Fitzpatrick’s Melodies, so I’m happy to have made even a little progress. I may not fear two-octave scales for too long at this rate.
I’m still using 1-3 as my sort of “anchor” for placing my fingers in general. It seems to depend on whether I want a half-step between 2 and 3 or not. It’s extremely useful for descending scales like this, where I don’t have the open strings there to calibrate things. I wish there were a capo for stringed instruments. *sigh*
– which could have been much worse, but at least I have a slowly convalescing kitty instead of a gaping void in the atmosphere in my apartment. I’m eternally grateful that I was able to afford the financial investment that this state of affairs required.
What this means musically is that I haven’t so much as touched either viola or piano for a week, last night excepted, and I still haven’t moved past that stinking Gavotte; I’m just not happy with how clumsy that Evil Measure still feels. I also want to go back and review the book before moving forward. And I’m a tiny bit intimidated at starting the Melodies. I just want to make sure I have my feet under me as much as possible, and have taken over the territory I’ve won this far with some confidence before trying to build new skills on it.
Between a rotten week and all of the above musical issues, I feel like I just do not want to budge out of Suzuki V1 yet.
But I still have a cat. Which is a much better position than I thought I’d be in last Saturday.
I’ve also continued my abandonment of the F minor thing for the moment and am still working on “Heart’s Wounds.”
I think I just have to admit that. And that means a lot of work on my part. The Evil Measure is shaping up to be me doing it a million times, adding another note, and doing it another million times, adding a finger lift and reposition, and doing it a million times, adding another note … and so on.
But I just have to face up to the fact that I will not move past it until I am happy with it.
I’ve also shelved the Fm thing for the moment and have gone back to Grieg’s “Heart’s Wounds” again. If it’s not happening, I need to just find out where an advance can take place and do that. I’m in woodshedding mode right now. I’m also going back to “The Last Spring” and getting that into my mind as much as in my hands, like the Ginastera is. I put that thing into every available storage space I have: hands and head. I can pretty much sit back and play the entire thing in my head and hit ever single note starting at almost every measure. “Spring” is nowhere near that; that one is still in the autonomic arena where I can play it without thinking but will choke if I play it with thinking. I need to do it in a deliberate fashion, and that means knowing the chords, naming the chords, and visualizing it measure by measure.
Not a lot to say since it was a busy and relatively viola-light week. I’ve concluded the “Gavotte,” but I need to just make myself play it all the way through a few times so I can feel okay about closing the book at Suzuki v1, then get moving on the two-octave DM scale, including descending, which is still a bear for me since I can’t rely on the open strings to give me calibration midway through the scale.
Then, it’s the first of the Fitzpatrick melodies. Yikes.
We continue to tweak my bow hold and some fingering issues, going back and forth between scroll and bow hand.
It’s going to be a bit of a force for me to get out of Suzuki v1, though. I just still feel like I picked the thing up last week and that I have no business moving on to another book yet. I have to get over the “hump” of the “Gavotte” and just play it all the way through and then turn the page.
I keep putting my fingers where the notes aren’t, and the thing keeps not playing them. The nerve.
In other news, I’ve finally managed to obtain an emotional narrative of sorts for the thing in Fm, so hopefully that will help me pick a path through the three or four possible bifurcations that seem to be multiplying like rabbits in the B theme. Once I have a “story” in my head, I can discard options more easily. I’ve been optimistic about this thing too often in the past though, so we’ll have to see how it works out.
In other and more trivial news, I used to take the fat ring off of my left index finger before picking up the bow until I saw Yuri Bashmet with a chunk of gold the side of the Rock of Gibraltar on his bow hand pinky, so now I leave it there. If it starts to get in the way (since it’s on the index finger), I’ll remove it. He’s my role model for sticking with the training wheels on my viola as well (the Wittner with the built-in fine tuners).
Foster’s Violin Shop — well-recommended by my teacher, close by, and while I love Gliga violins, I don’t necessarily trust their US shop as a good luthier. I’m getting tired of the G-ish wolf on the D string and would probably like to bring it in to get it tuned up in general some time next year.