I know I usually write about my work or my children or parenting in general, but today I wanted to write about a project I have going on strictly for myself.
To start off, here's a version of the piece I am talking about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vesrqFeq9rU .
I started playing violin when I was three and a half years old using the Suzuki Talent Education Method (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzuki_method). Also known as the "mother tongue method," the idea is that you listen to the pieces you will be learning at least an hour every day and then you learn to play through rote memorization. In other words, you soak your brain in the specific tunes and when you pick up the instrument you are more readily able to reproduce it. The down side of this method, for me, was the deemphasis of note reading. The up side is that at age 25 I was able to pick up my violin after having played about three times in 4 years and join an Irish Punk band and hold my own.
Suzuki was popular in my area growing up. Most of the schools had programs that started in grade 5, though that was late for a Suzuki student to start, it worked well for many. Kids who started with private teachers around the same age as I did, some even younger, tended to accelerate quickly and there were flocks and flocks of tiny Suzuki-near-virtuosos under the age of 8. I was NOT one of them.
I struggled with practicing, because my mom played so well and I expected that just listening was really all I had to do. I was frustrated because I wanted to PLAY like she did, vibrato, double stops, all that. I squeaked and sqawked out a million versions of Twinkle and the Suzuki Variations of it before I sounded at all good. Meanwhile, my teacher cut back on her student load during her maternity leave and asked my mom to take on some of her students. I was one who was to learn from my mom. It was an oil and water situation. I started piano when I was five from a teacher in the next neighborhood. That was much better, though I distinctly remember spinning on the piano stool instead of practicing some tune I associated with bumblebees. I really didn't like practicing.
My mom kept teaching, so I heard lots of kids playing in our basement when I got home from school for years and years. I guess I kept playing enough violin between my mom's Group Lessons (another big part of Suzuki's theory) and the summer camp she ran with other teachers, because when I switched schools in 5th grade I played in the orchestra. In sixth grade I was the concert mistress. I am still unsure about how that happened. Is it possible I really did read music that well then? I guess that was the benefit of piano lessons. But did I really sound that good? I must have, because I was able to pick up the violin from time to time in college and work through a tune or two.
After college graduation, I joined that punk band and took some Irish Fiddle lessons. I re-learned how to read music for the third or fourth time. That was about 12 years ago, so here I am today.
My fascination with this piece began when I began taking lessons and attending concerts. The Suzuki Method as practiced in my area growing up involved many mall concerts with all of us sitting on the ground waiting till they "played down" from the higher level pieces to the ones even kids who were not yet using fingers would play along to (Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star included). It was moving, powerful, not quite melancholy. I wanted to play it! But the closest I got was the Vivaldi in A minor (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQWj_B8zsFA) , and technically, I skipped ahead a lot to learn that one. I can still muddle through it though. Sort of.
So, back to the oil and water, remember, my mom and I not working quite so well together as student and teacher? Well, a few years back I decided I wanted to learn this piece. Somewhere in there, my plan fell apart, possibly when my dad got terminally ill. But last visit to my mom's house, I decided to be bold and bring my violin (as well as my kids' tiny violins for their lessons). I got it out, and said,"Ok, where's the sheet music for the Bach Double? It's time for me to learn it." Surprised, she obliged. We worked on it for about fifteen minutes. She played it, reminded me about some sharps, flats, low 2's and gave me my homework. I am to learn the first violin part. I wish I had stuck it out more and that this could have been me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLqjNaSEpV0&feature=related . But I will happily play along with this kind lady who put this tutorial up http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLqjNaSEpV0&feature=related so, if I am lucky, I can get to something like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ey3358wX8E0 (minus the chamber orchestra) and play with my mom at her Matinee Musicale group while she's still active.
See here's the thing. My mom turns 80 this year. She plays tennis, takes Zumba and aerobics classes, does nautilus, and plays in the community orchestra as well as her Matinee Musicale group. She volunteers at her church teaching and serving at regular potlucks. She keeps so busy it is hard for us to get together some months, even though she's only an hour and a half away.
So truly, this is for me, something I always wanted. And the reason I always wanted to learn this particular piece is simiple, you can't play it alone and have it mean what it means or sound as it should. This is the peice that I want to learn, so my mom and I can finally take her oil and my water and shake it up so it makes something. This is the piece that I want to live the rest of my life knowing I played with my mom.
And now, I'll go to that tutorial and practice for 15 minutes or so, before I attend to the myriad of work-related tasks, household chores and so forth. And I'll screw up a ton and sound squeeky and miss notes all over the place, all the while thinking about playing this with my mom. She doesn't know that this is so important to me. But it is.