June 30, 2013
I've been getting a ton of comment spam, some of which features the phrase "major thankies"...who the hell thinks up these things? Spam would be so much more effective if it weren't immediately recognizable as spam.
I guess I do owe some major thankies for this week, though. Running-wise, it was a cutback to 55 miles after three 70-mile weeks. Last time I took a cutback, I didn't feel it at all, not even a blip; this time, I felt a difference by Saturday, before the week was even done. I feel ready to push the mileage again. I've even settled on a fall marathon, which will be 4 days before my (dreaded) 50th birthday. I think my PR days are over, but hopefully I'll make it to the start line this time.
Music-wise: although I managed to practice 1.5+ hours every weekday (and more than that both days of the weekend), I've felt really scattered, torn between trying to practice everything for just a few minutes, or one or two tiny things for a very long time. Neither solution is satisfactory, but I only have so much time, and (especially during the week) so much time where I'm not falling over dead asleep. Still, I can tell that putting in some time - any time - is doing some good.
Also, I've been trying out a new-to-me viola this week, and I really like it and am trying to decide whether I want to buy it or not. I'd like my teacher to have a look, but he's gone until the fall. My former teacher (who's giving me lessons over the summer) thought it was pretty nice, so that's something. She also mentioned that there are some really nice instruments in a price range higher that what I'm currently thinking about. "Of course there are better, more expensive violas," I thought, but it raised some interesting questions. I set this price range rather arbitrarily, and probably could go higher. But in the back of my mind is always the question: who am I to buy an instrument that costs as much as a good used car? There are kids in middle-school orchestras who can play circles around me, on little viola-shaped boxes even. My former teacher says that it can be amazing how much better you can sound with a good instrument (that you don't have to fight with, presumably). To some extent I agree, but I maintain that there's equipment and there's talent, and you can't buy talent even if you buy good equipment. I would be embarrassed to own a really nice instrument when I can't even count on playing in tune every day.
June 23, 2013
what I want, this summer
1. good tone, which means a good right arm.
2. to learn to play fast
3. to read better,
5. to be more aware of how music feels, and play it that way.
June 20, 2013
thursdays can be discouraging
Somehow the week got away from me and here I am, too tired to stand up and practice, and not enough of an attention span to get much from sitting down and practicing either. Even with commuting and running I'm still able to get an hour and a half or two hours in each weekday, but I don't know where it goes: this morning before leaving for work I spent about a half-hour making noise (tone production exercises, I think they call it), then tonight played a very dull etude for like 40 minutes and then sawed away at some scales. I didn't have the attention to read 8 notes in a row, but somehow found the energy to be annoyed at a baby fly that was buzzing me. After trying to force myself to pay attention by sight-reading something for a while, I played a couple of bars of something I'me trying to learn, then put the viola away for the night.
Ugh. At least running is going well. And this (music) will too. Someday. Maybe by the weekend.
June 9, 2013
the fine line
School's out! Well, not exactly, but my viola teacher has left town for his summer job, and even though my former teacher has agreed to give some lessons, her approach is very different. So for the next couple of months, there won't be this weekly "performance" of assigned stuff for me to stress over :-) I hope I can be a little freer with the way I practice, maybe take time to try exercises and stuff that are not assigned and have nothing to do with anything assigned.
My teacher's summer job is at a music school that has music camp for kids and adults (not together, I don't think) every summer. Sounds lovely. There are tons of summer opportunities for kids, but not so many for grownups. Next year I would like to find a summer thing to do (preferably chamber music), and as I've mentioned, I'd really prefer something that requires an audition because that way I'd end up in the right place, not dragging everyone else down or being dragged either. So I guess, somewhere on the great list of things to do over the next 7 or 8 months, I need to start thinking about where I might want to go, and making an audition tape/cd/whathaveyou. Which sort of leads me to think about the fine line between pushing myself to do something a little uncomfortable, and going flat-out vulnerable and falling on my face. Nobody wants to fail. Nobody wants to look foolish. Least of all Joe Positive.
June 6, 2013
slightly better head
or: don't think, just do, and time will pass, and you will eventually notice the good that comes from the stuff that you've been doing.
June 2, 2013
this is joe positive
This has been an inexplicably crap week.
I should be optimistic about running: I acquired a base of 65 miles, held it for three weeks, and took this week as a cutback. I did a speed workout on Monday, pretty non-speedy but I did it. But physically I still feel like crap, and I'm not sure why. The cutback week did nothing to help that. Which got to my head, which then got to me. I hated running at least half the days this week, and I wonder if I'll ever like running again, even a little bit. There was a race yesterday I'd told my coach I would do, but I didn't, and didn't even say anything to him about it until he called me on my shit today.
I should be optimistic about music: despite the new work schedule and the physical feeling-like-crap (see above), I am still able to practice every day, and be organized about it. I had a couple days where everything sounded like crap, but I plowed through it and made some progress, or so I thought. But today I had one of those lessons where I did everything wrong, especially all the things I've been told about for months. "Tell me something I don't already know," I wanted to shout. But I didn't, and just felt stupid and clumsy and incompetent. If I were a child, it would probably be more ok to be this bad. But because I'm an adult I feel like I'm supposed to know better, and thus perform better, as in "I know the bow is supposed to be straight, so I will make it go straight Every Single Note, Always." but just because I know something doesn't mean my body will learn it, especially when I'm playing in front of someone who sees any and every flaw.
Bad head, bad head. Thank goodness for my job (never thought I'd say that). It's something I know how to do, can still do (at this advanced age) and am good at.
So anyway I came home from my lesson and spent 5 minutes beating myself up over everything, and then decided there's really only two things I can do: quit everything and feel miserable, or keep doing everything and feel miserable, but hope that the miserableness will ease up. Since I mentioned two choices, you know I have chosen the latter, at least for now. If I can just keep a decent head, I might have a chance.