I was doing a bit of practicing last night (not too much; I tend not to woodshed a lot on weeknights), and I’m still feeling an improvement in my hand somehow. Bow hand is becoming the greater focus for me as the low-hanging fruit of the scroll hand becomes a bit more comfy for me. My fingers are moving in a way that I would consider reasonable for a string player. I’m starting to make decisions more quickly and as a result, larger slices of my brain are feeling free enough to pay mind to expressive details like, “Start this note quiet and make it louder as you go,” or “That might sound better if it were a little staccato.” I remembered a saying that I ran into a while back last night: “People overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten.”
And to top it all off, the increased nimbleness in my right hand seems to be crossing into the piano as well. I was able to hit that 10-tuplet in the Vivaldi 443/2 arrangement first time last night. 🙂
I’m really happy with this slower pace. I feel like I can move into the Fitzpatrick melodies now with a real sense of awareness of what it is I’m doing and trying to learn from each one. I’ve got my feet under me. I remember my mom — the ex-violin prodigy — once talking about the misunderstandings between her and her violin teacher, Frank Costanzo, the dude who trained up about half of the violins in the Philadelphia Orchestra during the mid/late 20th century. One was that he was moving her too slowly in her estimation. She saw the other students moving more quickly through their books and etudes, and figured that he was holding her back because she wasn’t as good. Again, Costanzo never actually explained what he was planning to her; he was also planning to get her into the Philadelphia Orchestra via a bank shot off of Cleveland, but he never mentioned that either, until she quit. It transpired that she heard from him (either through her mom or directly from him) that he was going slowly with her because he wanted to make sure she was actually getting it. He wasn’t so much going slowly as taking his time with her.
I want to take my time with myself. I still don’t care what book I’m in or what piece I’m learning when I reach an epiphany or suddenly “get” something. I feel like a familiarity with a given piece helps with that, instead of constantly feeling like I’m stumbling forward at the point of a bayonet and unable to concentrate on what I’m doing as a result. I can see why other students wouldn’t feel that way and might instead feel demoralized by hanging back in Suzuki v1 for a year and a half. What I’m saying is that I can understand why my teacher was pushing me forward too quickly, as I don’t really behave mentally like most people, and in multiple ways, not just this one small one. The older I get, the more patient I become with people who don’t know how to deal well with me, because to be honest, I’m fairly peculiar. (Most times, that patience manifests itself by my desire to not have anything to do with anyone, but at least I lose my temper slightly less often.)
But I’m perfectly happy to hang back in v1 until I feel that I’ve sucked all the marrow out of the bones. I can’t move forward if there’s still something in there that I need to get; I lose sleep if I’ve left any meat on the bones. I don’t care about what book I’m in. I just want to feel comfortable with that thing on my shoulder, and I’m starting to at an ever-increasing rate.
So I’m not just out of Suzuki v1 now. I’m done with it. Well, I will be this weekend. Although for all I know, I may hang back for another weekend just to have fun playing that Gavotte and getting it right. There is still one particularly challenging measure that I need to nail down, and I can see that taking the whole weekend. But at some point, I will be playing that thing from start to finish, and it’s going to feel fantastic.
I would still love to go back to lessons, but I’m not sure that any teacher will do them in the manner that I now know would work well for me — about ten months of intensive biweekly lessons followed by an undefined months-long absence on my part while I digest everything I’ve learned. Then, I start the cycle again. I don’t think anyone will do that plus teach a southpaw, so I think I’m just on my own from now on. I wish I weren’t. Shifting in particular is going to be challenging without direct help. I’ll have to read upon the various ways to conceptualize it and then just start cranking. There’s some videos I’ve found online about viola shifting. I guess I’ll just watch them, digest what they’ve said, and see what happens. (OMG DON’T! YOUR ARM WILL FALL OFF!) It can be a pain in the ass because when I search on viola-related things on Google, they hypercorrect constantly and ask “Do you mean to search on violin instead?” No, you freaking stupid algorithm, I do not.