Tuesdays @ 2: David Langr

It is with David that I fell in love. With my violin. He was my first teacher. At our first lesson he asked what experience I had with the instrument. “I learned to play ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’ once,” I replied. “Great! I’d love to hear it.” Ensued a caterwauling only you can imagine. “That was lovely!” David declared, “Here, let me show you another way to hold the violin.” Thus began our five years work together.

David was always patient and always kind. Little by little we worked our way through Suzuki books 1, 2 and 3. “A little higher on 3rd finger D.” “Open up your bow arm. Let it relax at the elbow.” He taught my ears to hear pitch. He loosened up stiff joints. He accompanied me in recitals when I wanted to freak out and run away. David kept me at it, and he let me love the sound I that produced, regardless of what I produced.

First teachers are like this. They tolerate quick learners and awkward learners, ones with incessant questions, those prone to exploring off base, guiding gently back to proper technique and musical expression. They introduce us to our instruments and to music, opening a door for inner voice to shine. They play an outsized role in our lives, influencing musical development and life to come. They forever hold a place in our hearts.

Do you have a David Langr in your life? With whom did you fall in love with your violin? Or your oboe, or your snare drum, or whichever instrument you play. See the comments? Let the world know how wonderful is this teacher of yours. (And maybe we’ll even get to learn who David Langr‘s David Langr is . . .)

Copyright 2017.  All rights reserved.
Top photo by Francisco Kjolseth, The Salt Lake Tribune. Bottom photo from the 2017 BLUME National Orchestra Institute in Haiti.

I Love to Study Violin Because . . .

This was true six years ago when I began, and it is true today:

I love to study violin because practice is peaceful and meditative.
I love to study violin because it opens to me new ways of thinking and being.
I love to study violin because its challenge gives me interesting problems to solve.
I love to study violin because it takes time and patience.
I love to study violin because there are no shortcuts.
I love to study violin because I will never fully master it and will always have something to do.
I love to study violin because one day it will sing my voice.

copyright 2017, All rights reserved.

Bar Music for Millennials (and their Grandmas)

 Not all classical concert-goers appreciate the bar scene. I understand about it not being for everyone, but diet-coke or lemoned-H2O can still work if there is a reason to go, and last night in Salt Lake City, there was. I was up front for Thierry Fischer and Patricia Kopatchinskaja doing MOTUS After Dark at SKY. We had Mercedes Smith on flute, Madeline Adkins on violin, and Jason Hardink on piano, each with wildly virtuosic pieces riveting the audience, and then the tour-de-force: Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, conducted by Fischer and sung by Kopatchinskaja.

If you haven’t heard it, you should.

Kopatchinskajas facial acting, even during her violin solo, may well be helpful to internet generations more visually oriented than their elders. I’ll wager it bridges them into hearing and feeling the compositions in ways they might not otherwise.

The whole production was wonderfully effective, taking what this millennial party center has to offer in terms of visual facilities, social setup and patron-type, and using them to maximum effect to present classical music in an alternative setting. No, it wasn’t a hush-hush concert hall so I didn’t get every nuance, but I did to enjoy the fact that the audience and their needs became a part of the production, and that I could hear the music within a social context, which added fullness and depth in a novel way.
copyright 2017, All rights reserved.

Early Morning Musings, with Coffee: Technique, Repertoire, Ensemble, Orchestra

Schradieck Exercises for Promoting Dexterity are killing me. Page 1, ex. 4, m. 1, last 16th note, when played in a-minor: fingers won’t go into position fast enough. The left-hand low-#2 is so sticky I can’t up the tempo past 90. How to get the hand to relax and unstick this finger? Slow meticulous movement to retrain? Out-of-box fast beats to challenge fingers? A lot of repertoire requires super-fast 16th notes, so there is a necessity in finding this finger speed and coordination.

 The Bach Double is challenging me on all fronts! I will have learned a lot by the time I can play it, but, UGH! Some days getting there feels impossible. Fingering and bowing technique are several levels more complex than before. Fingers trip over themselves, and the right arm refuses to release the string at the end of martele strokes. It is a struggle, but the only thing to do is to keep tackling the problem piece, every day.

 My String Trio is working! So excited to reach this milestone. The barrier-to-entry is towering, but after 6 years of onerous practice (and patient, attentive rock-star teachers) I’m finally getting to do what I wanted to do in the first place. My dream is coming true.

 The nice thing about sitting in the last row of the 2nd violins in Adult Amateur Orchestra, is that everyone assumes that you’re not very good and that you’re not going to get any better, and so it is easy to slack off, and people generally are appreciative when their expectations are met. It is a relief not to have to work super-hard for a change.
copyright 2017, All rights reserved.

Blue Music

Listening to BLUE
While driving to you.
Thinking things through.
Drinking coffee, too.

BLUE, recently released by the Ahn Trio, is my car album of choice these days. On a typical commute, I can listen to it six times through. It matches my moods, from jazzy to sorrowful, and when done pondering the state of relations, I listen again for details, teaching my ear to capture ever more. I like the pizzicato, and how the piano sometimes sound like the strings, and the strings sometimes sound like the piano. I like the harmonics. I like the harmonies. I like the soft songs, the melodic songs, the retro songs, the syncopated songs.

I like the composers of whom I’ve never heard, and researching YouTube to see what else they do. I like a child’s album that isn’t really a child’s album. I like the interplay of sisters singing to each other through their hands. I like they twinkle like a star.
copyright 2017, All rights reserved.