Thursday, April 27th, 2006
Lesson with Lisa this evening -- we spent a lot of time going over ideas for the "If you were mine" solo. Really encouraging -- made me feel like I may actually get it soon. Lisa showed me how to do some stuff in the style of Grappelli and recorded some licks for me to listen to and try. Off to practice...
Friday, April 21st, 2006
Today I am going to the music shop after work and buy a book of etudes, or possibly two. Maybe I will also buy some violin sonatas. The question in my mind is, do I want classical etudes or jazz etudes? Or one of each? Hopefully the answer will resolve when I am looking at the actual books.
Update: So the resolution was provided by my sister, who is knowledgeable in the ways of music and said she did not think it would make any difference whether I used a jazz or classical exercise book, and recommended a good store for classical music. So I went to Joseph Patelson's and bought Hohmann's Practical Method for the Violin, book III, and Above the First Position by Markwood Holmes and Russell Webber. The first has a lot of work on scales in different keys; the second has exercises for moving up and down the neck. Also I bought 6 Sonatas for Violin and Piano by Handel; I don't know if I will ever get around to learning them but they should be good fun if I do.
Thursday, April 20th, 2006
My current project in my fiddle practicing is trying to learn the keys. Right now I'm never sure what key I'm playing in until I get to a resolution, and the key often shifts while I'm playing (if I'm playing by myself) to one of my preferred keys, D or G. I'd like to: branch out a bit, i.e. get comfortable in a wider variety of keys; be able to know what key I'm playing in fairly instinctually; and be able to join in harmoniously when someone tells me they're going to play in a particular key.
The path to this seems to be "playing scales" but I'm not totally sure what is meant by this as far as rhythm, timing, etc. What I've been doing for the last couple of days is to play a scale up and down a couple of times starting on a particular note, and then try to play some simple melodies in that key. I'm hoping this will get me where I want to go with enough repetition. I'm also planning to buy a book of études for violin. I'm spending a lot of time listening to the Grappelli tape that Bill loaned me.
Tuesday, April 18th, 2006
Okay, so everyone should go watch this video and get their minds blown. Seriously -- it's stunning. Go take a look.
Update: And here is the guy who put it together.
Update: Oy vey, the video link was pointing to the wrong place. Sorry, fixed now.
Monday, April 17th, 2006
Tonight I worked out a really satisfying solo to play with "Always". That's sort of the second song I've done that for since joining 13 Scotland Rd. -- for a couple of the songs nice solos come pretty naturally, but the two that I've really worked on and think of myself as knowing a fiddle part for, are "Used to be" and "Always". I'm particularly happy about "Always" because for the first couple of weeks I was totally in the dark about this song.
The process is approximately: figure out what key the song is in, and what note to start the verse and chorus on. Then find a couple-of-note phrase that fits into the music at a couple of key junctures. Then work out how to echo that phrase up a fourth and a fifth and an octave. Then play the melody with the phrase different ways until everything comes together. It is satisfying when it works.
Friday, April 14th, 2006
Well it looks like the thing that will ultimately give me confidence in playing in third position, is going to be "Sometimes" -- it is in E♭ which is horrendously difficult to play in first position. But I was practicing it tonight in third position and came up with a pretty solo that is all in third position, easy to play and I think it will be easy to remember. So that's great -- I will play it with Aaron and Bob and once I get comfortable with it, I should be able to play up there in G and D as well.
Tuesday, April 11th, 2006
Rehearsal with Aaron and Bill (and Mark, who will be playing lead guitar) went really nicely this evening. I'm starting to understand "Always". I was spot on with two songs, "Used to be" (which I've been working hard on all week) and "Dream" (which I haven't touched since last time), and was doing really well on "If you were mine" until I screwed up massively where I shift to third position. We played a couple of new songs, including one in E flat! Very peculiar key for the violin. I got a copy of their CD (having lost track of the one I bought last year) which should help with learning the songs.
Sunday, April 9th, 2006
Singing while I play is really coming naturally -- besides "John Hardy was a Desperate Man" I've now got a pretty good version of "Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning", and this afternoon I played (on the spur of the moment) "Since I Laid My Burden Down". This is almost exactly the same melody as "Will the Circle Be Unbroken", which I have tried without much success to sing while playing.
Tonight I played the open mike jam at the regrettably named "Here's to the Arts" in Maplewood. It was just me and the owner of the bar playing electric guitar, and the audience was Ellen and Sylvia and the owner's wife; but we had some fun. We played "John Hardy" and "Trimmed and Burning", and a jazz tune that I had not heard before. I turn out to be able to sing into a mic while playing, which is a relief, and to jam to an easy but unfamiliar tune, which I already sort of knew but is always nice to get confirmed.
Today, a lovely day, is the occasion for our first family bike ride (longer than around the block) of the season. We are riding to Michele's house in Maplewood for Sylvia's play group and back, a total of about 5 miles.
Update: The ride was a success -- this is the furthest Sylvia has ever ridden by a multiple of 2 or so, she did a lot of coasting but gave me a hand on the uphills (which I could not have managed without her pedalling) and some of the straightaways (I could definitely feel the reduction in effort when she started pedalling). Her play group friends were interested in the tandem trailer and a big occasion was made of us mounting and riding away -- Ella got a similar trailer recently but so far has been scared to actually get on it, so she was particularly interested.
Saturday, April 8th, 2006
We went to Seton Hall tonight to watch Wang Guowei play erhu, which is the Chinese instrument that looks vaguely like a cello. (Well very vaguely -- here is a picture.) It was just lovely; I was sorry to have to leave at the intermission because of it being past Sylvia's bedtime.
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