Tag Archives: violin

Musical Monday: Chamber Music

This week I am going to chamber music camp with my 16-yo son, a cellist, and a pre-formed group of friends as a quartet.  This “camp” is not really a camp. It’s in a church, not the woods, and it is run by my teacher and her colleagues. Nobody stays overnight. We view that as a feature rather than a bug, but not everyone would. And I am at least temporarily returned to my roots as a violinist. No viola this week!

Another thing that is different about this camp is that it mixes adults and kids. This is convenient for me because I can go with my son. My quartet-mates are all retired, so I am not the oldest person there, but I am in the top half. For the introductions, the teacher asked what school we all went to as one of the line items. Unlike the other adults, I actually had a school, since I’ll be teaching at one next year. Surprisingly there was even a student from my school in the group. She plays a wind instrument, so I didn’t work with her directly, and didn’t remember her well, but she did remember me helping out the music teacher a couple of times last year.

My son is working on the first movement of Beethoven’s quartet Op. 18, No 4. I played it a couple of years ago and still remember the experience as a high point, and I saw the original manuscripts in Prague this spring.

And I’m working on the first movement of the Florence Price string quartet in G. I played the 2nd movement earlier this year and wanted to tackle the first also. There are only 2 movements in this quartet. The first is even less often played than the second, and there are only a couple of YouTube recordings available. Our coach is learning the music along with us!

The coaching sessions went by very quickly. I wasn’t ready to be done yet, and could have gone on for at least another couple of hours! I think the recordings that are available go too fast. We won’t be able to achieve those tempos in a week, and I don’t think I’d even want to. I need time to hear the unique harmonies.

And this post is a bit of an experiment too. Can I actually write something concise and not take an inordinate amount of time doing it, when I should be practicing? Yes, yes I can . . .

 

 

 

 

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Mundane Monday: Used Golf Clubs from Craigslist

My husband and I have always liked to play minigolf, but that’s it. Until now. I had always thought of golf as something rich people and Presidents did.

But recently I decided to try it. There are some advantages to being able to play. Golf is a sport you can play your whole life, even well into your 70s and 80s, as long as you are mobile. It gets you outside and walking. It can be social; you can chat, you can network. If you’re so inclined you might even be able to catch Pokemon on the course! And some courses are located in beautiful and/or interesting places that you wouldn’t even get to see if you didn’t play golf.

There is a course in our town, Mountain View, on Moffett Field. It’s not a well-known course and used to be for military only. Now they have opened it up to the public and while you do have to show your drivers license to get past the kiosk, they are friendly when you tell them you are going to the golf course. When you are leaving, you drive right past Hangar One.

HangarOne

My husband and I have taken a couple of lessons now and we’re planning to do more. I recently got a set of used women’s clubs off Craigslist so I can go down to the range and practice if I want to. I picked them up after church on Sunday, where I was playing violin for Earth Day.

This week’s Mundane Monday theme is “two for one.” Pictured here are the two blue cases for the equipment needed for my oldest and newest hobbies. They kinda match.

GolfViolin

The Mundane Monday Challenge is under new ownership. Check it out at K Ottaway’s Rural Mad as Hell Blog.

Fijapaw Update: Bound for Korea

More than a year ago now, not long after I had moved to California, I had the unique pleasure of playing string quartets with a bicycling violinist in a fencing studio. I blogged about the experience here: The Fiji Quartet. That bicycling violinist is a woman named Jasmine Reese, who is cycling around the world with her dog named Fiji. Her website is called Fijapaw: One Girl. Her Dog. A Violin. On a Bicycle. Continue reading Fijapaw Update: Bound for Korea

Book Review: Violinist.com Interviews: Volume 1 by Laurie Niles

Violinist.com Interviews: Volume 1Violinist.com Interviews: Volume 1 by Laurie Niles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book would make a wonderful gift for your violin teacher or orchestra stand partner. It’s like a box of fine chocolates: varied, rich, each one delicious in its own way. The author is a thoughtful interviewer who seems to be able to relate well to the famous violinists she talks to and to get them to open up to her about a myriad of topics. Her subjects are all violinists at the top of their game, and the author deserves kudos for choosing a diverse group of interviewees in terms of musical interests, age, gender, and background. Each interview is reasonably short, too, so it’s easy to dip in and out.

Continue reading Book Review: Violinist.com Interviews: Volume 1 by Laurie Niles

The Fiji Quartet

Back in 2006 when my kids were relatively small, I joined a website called violinist.com. My daughter, then 7 years old, was struggling to learn Suzuki violin from a teacher she didn’t get along with. I wasn’t playing at all at the time, but I was interested in helping my daughter. I had no idea back then what my little internet search for German folk songs was going to lead to. It introduced me to blogging. And blogging eventually brought me back to playing the violin myself, and the viola.

Continue reading The Fiji Quartet

Connections

Last Saturday, my 12-year-old cellist son and I played for a garden tour in Palo Alto. He’s going to be on tour with his school orchestra during his teacher’s regular recital in a couple of weeks, so this performance, also organized by his cello teacher, was like a mini-recital for him. He played 2 movements from the Vivaldi cello sonata in A minor that he’s been working on, and it went well. Continue reading Connections

Music as Magic (Learning by Ear—Part I)

First in a series of blogs about my attempts to learn how to play by ear on the violin . . .

Back in the 1970s, when I started learning violin in public school, the first piece we learned for performance was Twinkle, and we played it in that year’s Holiday Concert. Before the group performance, a few of us had lines to say. My line went something like this:

“Thousands of years ago, people used music as magic . . . (lost in the mists of time) . . . played different kinds of instruments.”

I don’t remember much else from this concert: just this small part of my lines, and none of the actual experience of playing Twinkle with a group of 4th grade public school beginners in front of an audience.

Continue reading Music as Magic (Learning by Ear—Part I)

New State, New Year, New Blog

A group of us on a violin Facebook group where I am a member have decided to start a new music blog for adult learners, called Soundpost. This blog will emphasize personal journeys and stories and will be a support for adults learning to play stringed instruments, especially those who started or re-started as adults.

I made my first post to the group today:

But, here I am facing possibly my biggest motivation challenge since I re-started in 2006. Last July I moved from the Boston area where I lived for 18 years, to the San Francisco Bay area in California. This move was motivated by my husband’s job at Google. I was able to transfer my teaching job at an educational non-profit to the California office, but I left my violin/viola teacher, my orchestra, and my chamber music buddies behind, and I miss them dearly.  I feel like I have to re-start all over again. Yet again. But by now I should be a pro at that. Right?

–> Read more on Soundpost.

Learning to love choral music

I have been participating in a weekly blog series called the Monday Music Medicine Show, hosted by Fimnora Westcaw, the Quantum Hermit. As a violinist whose tastes tend toward the traditional and classical, and as a non-Beatles-lover, I wasn’t sure at first whether this was going to work out for me, or where I would fit in. The bands and solo artists I liked growing up tended to be ones other people made fun of, or that they called “guilty pleasures.” But I am finding the blog to be an interesting and even broadening experience. It turns out there are people outside of the orchestra with whom I can talk about music.

Then came this week’s questionWhat choral songs fill you with the exquisite allure of voices beautifully blending together, and wrap you in their embrace? Continue reading Learning to love choral music