Sunday, December 02, 2001

Erin's Violin Blog 22

Things just keep rolling along for Erin. She's got a nice, stable vibrato now and is shifting easily. She's wrapped up her first polishing of the three Seitz Concerto movements in Book 4, and has made short work of note-learning for the Vivaldi a minor 1st movement which she is playing confidently now while preparing to start the 3rd. Six months ago I would have predicted her forward progress would slow at the early-Book-4 level. Now I'm sure it will slow by the late-Book-4 level, but I've been wrong so far and I'm prepared to be wrong again.

I'm struck lately by how the perfectionism and volatility of the past is so much smaller a problem now. She is still prone to melt-downs, but they come at really understandable times. For instance, after four metronome runs through the last page of the Vivaldi 1st movement, she develops a recurrent stumble while trying the arpeggio sixteenths in the 3rd movement with the metronome for the first time. Big deal: I'd probably have a meltdown in the same situation myself! Maturity is giving her more resources to tackle bigger things.

In early November she attended a large regional youth orchestra weekend workshop, a thrilling success in a number of ways. This was her first serious orchestral experience, and she was able to pick from a smorgasbord of repertoire choices, including some very challenging pieces. The "Tutti" orchestra comprised 147 players, from age 7 (Erin) to senior high-schoolers and some adult students and teacher-ringers as well. The final concert, after two days of intensive rehearsing, was in a brand-new performing arts theatre, so it really was a fine introduction to "big-time orchestral playing".

The left hand posture problems continue to be a thing of the past. The big push over the past 6 months has been to get her to take responsibility for musical details like dynamics and phrasing. She can play exceedingly musically, and mimicks musical details extremely well, but has shown little interest in actually internalizing them and making use of them without reminders and prods. Probably this will come with maturity as well, but her grandmother-teacher and I continue to try to push the envelope a little by asking her (over and over and over, of course) to please, for example, remember the contrast in dynamics at the end of the fourth section.

We'll be celebrating Christmas in our characteristic low-key way. Erin will be involved in three concerts. In one of them she'll be playing arrangements of a couple of Christmas tunes in a violin-cello-harp trio with a local cellist friend (also age 7) and his mom. These "community connections" are, I think, really important. She'll also be joining the inter-generational local community orchestra after Christmas. She's been attending rehearsals since infancy, so this venue sort of feels like "home" to her. I think the other orchestra members are looking forward to it as much as she is.