Friday, December 17, 2010

The Whole Picture

I have found one of the hardest things for me to do as a musician is to convey meaning to my audience through my playing.  I can have a storyline running through my mind as I play, but that seems to get lost in translation between me and my audience.  Last night I had a fantastic conversation with my friend Kelly Artz who is a finm director.  She asked me to play something for her and then told me what she got from that was not really what I had in mind at all. 

When making a movie, the term "extras" is not an accurate description for the actors on set with no lines.  Each one of them has a purpose, a backstory, a reason for being there.  No one is extra.  Each note, movement, phrase, is important and needs to be treated as such. 

Sometimes it is easy to look only at the big picture and forget about all of the small details.  This is dangerous.  You can easily loose perspective.  Not only is each note important, but everything that went into the composition is important: the movments, their titles, the tempos given or not given by the composer, who was the composer, when did they write it, what was happening in history at the time, what was happening in the composer's life at the time, who was it written for?  Every detail is important to understand in order to convey the essence of a piece to your audience.  After I graduate I will also be trying to find a way to have access to a music library of sorts so I can research these details.

I have been so focused on the big picture items (tone, vibrato, intonation...) that my playing is not capturing people's imaginations as I hoped it would be.  This is difficult for me, because even when I listen to recordings of myself, I still hear some of the storyline that I feel even though others don't.  Having the objectivity to distance myself is a skill that I desperately need to work on. 

On a different track, practing at night still sucks.  I have maybe an hour of focus and otherwise I am not putting in beneficial practice, but probably detrimental practice.  This will be something that takes more time than I originally thought. 

My goals for this week are to practice a little more each evening, to make more recordings of myself, do some reasearch about the composers I am working with and really flesh out storylines for the music I am working on.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I have always taken for granted how easy it is to practice.  There was time during the day and at night and there were practice rooms right there.  Convenient and easy.  This past week I have been working almost full time (which is good 'cause money is always helpful) and finding time to practice is difficult.  I have practiced in the lab, but right when I'm in the middle of something good, a student walks in and I have to stop...this almost seems to do more harm then good with all of the disruptions in my focus.  GRRRR!!!  Add to that my focus is just so much better in the morning than at night which is unfortunate since I work 8-5 (that sounds ominous...) that I am going to have to find a way to practice productively after dinner.  I have not been able to do this successfully on a regular basis since I started college. 

With all of that ranting out of the way, my vibrato is slowly growing.  I can shape it a little more each time I work with it!  This is great!  I am not a huge fan of the "one speed fits all" vibrato that I have had for years, so this is really exciting to work on. 

New goals for this week: practice at night at least 4 days in a row to try to build up some night focus stamina, lots of technique/etude work, and start work on the Bach E major Partita!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Beginning

There are so many things I have wanted to share during my college experience, so I decided I should start a blog.  This is just to document my journey from finishing the academic and performance requirements for my music education degree through student teaching and the summer and fall afterwards while I prepare for graduate school auditions. 

I have discovered some really neat things about myself and this next year is all about self exploration.  I will be moving away on my own and looking for what I want to do for the rest of my life.  All I know right now is that it will definitely include my violin :)

I hope that this will be a collection of tales about music, life, and following my heart where ever it takes me!

My senior recital has come and gone.  Sad, happy, uplifting, and depressing all at the same time.  I'm proud of myself for doing it, loving it, and growing on the road getting there, but now that its over, there is an empty feeling in my life.  I loved almost every minute of the preparation.  I could hear my improvement everyday.  Without the recital hovering over my life, I seem to have lost some of my sense of purpose.  It is difficult to be motivated to practice when there are no deadlines looming, no juries, no concerts. 

This lack of deadlines is exactly what is going to make the next year so difficult.  I am going to set goals here, and stick with them.  My first goal is basic and straight forward.  I want to improve my vibrato.  I'll let you know how it goes!