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January 29, 2013

guess what

continuous vibrato during a figure. Like, play do-re-mi-re-do and vibrate the whole time.


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January 20, 2013


During my lesson today, my teacher intimated that I was sort of maybe almost on a par with some of his high school students.

This makes me absurdly happy.

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January 19, 2013

5 hours and 35 minutes

I just want to get that down (on electronic paper) for posterity.

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January 16, 2013

a rare good rehearsal

A good rehearsal is a rare thing, and tonight there was one. I felt relaxed, the viola sounded good, I didn't feel like I was lost in a sea of black dots. The director would ask us to do something musical (not just play in tune and in time) and I could actually do it. And internalize it (and write it down too so I remember it tomorrow).

How can this be? A couple ideas:

1) a few days ago I decided not to let playing in tune be the be-all and end-all, and to make an effort to sound good instead.

2) I discovered this awesome violist, Esther Apituley, who is my hero. I could write an entire paragraph without being able to describe why her tone is the most lovely thing in the world, the Chris-Knox's-voice of viola.

Or maybe I just happened to have a good day. Anyway, I wish I could bottle it.

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January 13, 2013

I don't care if the viola godz are displeased

Although I am plenty negative, I will post good stuff if it happens.

I managed to trudge through the latest funk and pick up where I left off. In addition to "regular" practice, I'm now trying to do a bit of sight-reading every day. No clue if it will help, but at least I'm practicing, not thinking "I suck, let's have a drink." Today I even had a good lesson, and came out of it feeling like I'm moving a tiny bit forward, not just retreating/repairing/regrouping.

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January 10, 2013

this one's for all my Polish readers

who keep posting comments in Polish (or quasi-Polish) which I never let see the light of day.

Bad head day, bad head day. 2-hour slog this morning during which I alternately ruminated about my horrible musicianship and castigated myself for even getting so upset about it. 2-hour slogs are absolute honeypots for self-defeating thoughts. I felt like crap physically, yet didn't even really care how bad the run was because I also felt like crap non-physically.

Everything I tried to play today sounded like crap.

God, I am so negative.

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January 9, 2013

something beautiful a facebook friend posted

You work with what you are are given,
the red clay of grief,
the black clay of stubbornness going on after.

-Jane Hirshfield

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first night of rehearsal

Oh my goodness gracious, I suck.

I can't read. I have no confidence when I play. These kids are all playing circles around me, and not only am I not playing well but I imagine that everyone actually hears me not playing well and that this matters to them.

Just by chance I decided not to sit principal (my stand partner is an actual student at the actual community college where the orchestra actually is, so he really ought to sit principal), and it's a good thing I did, because for the first time in ages, the director has chosen pieces with viola solos. Millions of them.


...a few minutes later, and this is still tops on the agenda. God! I am so torn between I-should-stop-making-a-fool-of-myself and who-gives-a-fuck-if-I-look-like-a-fool. I keep working and working at this - I don't want to say I work so hard, because there are millions of people who work harder and have sacrificed more, but I do work and work at this - and hoping it will get easier, and I will stop feeling like a fake and an impostor. But it never does, and I never do.

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January 8, 2013

it is the last night before orchestra starts again

and I should be practicing practicing practicing all the stuff my teacher has given me before I have to shove it aside to learn whatever we're doing in orchestra. But my concentration is utterly gone, so I'll just lie here on the couch eating some chocolate.

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January 7, 2013

that accursed vibrato exercise

Remember: the arm ends at the wrist. There is no finger and no hand. All there is is the wrist, which you are moving in time with the metronome.

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January 6, 2013

so what's new

What's new: I still run. I still get injured. I am currently on my way back from yet another DNS-inducing injury. Older, slower, but better about racing; less of a headcase.

Music: Still taking weekly lessons. Still playing in 2 community orchestras, one of which I actually had to audition for. In summer I play in yet a third community orchestra. "Community" seems to be code for "we don't turn anyone away," because they let people like me in.

I recently started with a different teacher, who gives me homework, as in "by next week, I want you to learn X and do Y and play Z." The good-little-schoolgirl raised from the dead, I practice 2-4 hours a day just so I don't feel unprepared.

Sometimes it's like one step forward, three steps back.

In this interval between fall and spring semesters, I've been playing (solo) so much more than I ever have. Which should be a good thing, but it also means I've been playing solo so much more than I ever have, and god! how I hate the sound of it. It's so awful. I'm so awful. I think: how the hell did I ever have the nerve to play in any orchestra, to play in that chamber music thing, to audition for UT orchestra. Jesus Christ, I'm so bad now, and I know I was worse a year ago. How could I have had the nerve? And do I have the nerve now? I've got a big case of the got-no-right-to-be-heres. Please, please let some magic happen when I put bow to string in a room full of other people doing the same thing.

And please let me continue to be patient.

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I hope that Alison will forgive me

I want to thank my friend Alison Wade for setting up this blog and giving people like me the opportunity to use it. And I'd also like to apologize for letting it lie fallow for so long. And, finally, I'd like to apologize in advance for changing the theme from "mostly running" to "some running but mostly the other extremely important thing in my life," which is this harebrained attempt to learn to play viola at my advanced age.

I don't know if Alison even remembers that this place exists, but as long as it's here, so am I.

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