I really was going too fast in those lessons.

That was the wrong pace for me. I truly do need to move ahead at my own pace, getting everything I can out of something. I don’t care about learning new pieces — what I want is learning new things. New techniques, new ways to make the fingering work, new ways to use my bow hand. New ways to make a given piece of music work. (And at my current n00b stage, everything I learn is new.) I can do that fine on Minuet 2 for well over a month. Stumbling at breakneck pace from piece to piece doesn’t satisfy me and stresses me out when I feel like I’m being pushed ahead toward the checkered flag. Crossing the tape doesn’t matter to me if I’m tripping over my own feet the whole time. I’m not out to win a race; I don’t give a damn about beating an artificially set pace. I want to learn how to manipulate the device by my own standards.

I don’t want to get to the end of a book and think I know what I’m doing just because I reached the end, when deep down I know that I don’t. That’s false advancement. I want to have gotten there for real, to be building a solid foundation of understanding of things before I move ahead. I can’t get over how fun it was to just back up to those Minuets and finally see what was in them, and make discoveries that lined up with many of the things my teacher had mentioned — loosening the hand, using the fat part of the fingertip, leaning the hand back, using the middle/ring fingers as a fulcrum for the bow and “steering” with the index and pinky fingers. It’s starting to gel, and it wouldn’t have had I still been stumbling along forced to run too damned fast and denting my shins and banging into things. I’d just be dented, bruised, and stressed out.

I’m so glad that he was supportive of my playing on the correct side for me, and he was wonderful at teaching me how to hold the thing without hurting myself; this is a viola we’re talking about here, not its Barbie-toy sibling. But I really did have to just put on the brakes, take the wheel, and slow down to a pace that allowed me to learn at the depth I needed, to turn every piece over and look at it from a million angles, to go through something slowly and then go back to the beginning and go over it again, and again. I’m like cheap paint: I need two or three coats for full coverage. I’ll get to Telemann eventually, and it will sound decent by the time I get there. More importantly, I’ll feel like I can manage it confidently.

I’m not sure if my teacher will be interested in periodic every-two-weeks lessons on the part of an adult beginner when I confront shifting, but if not, then I’ll see about those Professor V videos online and see what he has to say about it on a violin. Then, I just go slow and easy and see what I can get done. I love being behind the wheel on this; if I feel something going wrong, then I’ll ask for help. But from now on, I’m done with a piece when I say I’m done with it and not before. As long as I am learning how to do things, who cares which piece I’m learning them on?

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