My damned pinky

The problem is that it is loose, like all the rest of the joints in my body, and thus hard to control. If I reach too far out with it, the joint drops out of place. Thus, I can either reach anywhere within one inch of the base of my knuckle, or two miles off. Nothing in between. I’m either a half-step ahead of my ring finger, or poking myself in the eye.

I’m going to have to figure this one out. I don’t use that part of the fingerboard enough for me to have developed a little shiny spot where my fingertip goes to use as a cheat, so I’m still just tossing my pinky out there and hoping … and given the looseness of the joint, I always toss it too far. I’m just going to have to develop another way of approaching that. I saw on another blog (by a Real Violist in a Real Orchestra) that a cellist he knew once used gaffer’s tape on the fingerboard to subtly mark his place. I’d rather not do that, but it might be a nice way to train myself just in the initial stages so that I can feel and hear the note at the same time. I’d hate to buy an entire roll of gaffer’s tape for the sake of what will amount to one square inch of the stuff, though.

I also need to not scrape forward with the bow while I’m angsting about my pinky. There’s no reason for the bow hand to misbehave because the scroll hand has a tough job.

Also, my personal recorder arrived yesterday. Now, all I have to do is actually be able to play something all the way through! Simplicity itself!

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Last night’s lesson

I always feel like I’m not doing enough, but I always come away from my lessons fairly well-motivated and eager to continue, which speaks well of my teacher and of my own tendencies toward self-directed butt-kicking.

I was also shocked to use my pinky fairly handily, although the collapse of the first knuckle (the one attached to my hand) continues to dog me since it makes it extremely hard to control that joint with accuracy when it clicks out of place. However, I do tend to go sharp on it, so I don’t have to reach quite as high as I think I do when using it. That loose joint will devil me, though. I’ll have to just woodshed on half-scales until I feel happy with it.

Part of the issue is, as my teacher hinted last night, I’m moving faster than most, and as a result I’m outstripping my own ability to keep up in some ways. I’ve moved forward rapidly enough through Suzuki v1 that (typically) my brain’s ability to absorb new information and apply it is much faster than my body’s ability to develop a habit, which is a significant issue on an instrument that is as physical as this one is. This means that I’m going to have to work much harder than normal to make sure that I develop the physical habits needed to keep up with my ability to absorb the information. I may have gotten to the end of Suzuki v1, but I’ve still only been doing this for a few months. My body will have to be pushed forward at a fairly unforgiving pace to keep up with my brain. Slowing down the brain is not an option; I know myself. The brick is on the accelerator or else I’m parked.

So I will finish up the “Gavotte” at the end of Suzuki v1 and then begin Fitzpatrick’s “Melodies” — along with working my way through Suzuki v2 as well. Lot of work ahead … I wonder how long it will be until this instrument stops feeling as ergonomically unfriendly as it is.