Monday, May 21, 2007

Two violas

Noah skipped two movements in the Telemann Concerto for 2 Violas at the end of Suzuki Book 4. He had worked hard on the four movements of the Telemann Concerto for Solo Viola, and polished up the first movement of the Duo work, performing it several times with his buddy P.. But the last two movements just seemed like a lot of notes to learn, and without a viola group class to play the piece in, Book 5 beckoned more strongly. So, with his teacher's permission, he moved on into Book 5. But now, with the SVI looming and four Book 4+ violists attending, he's been assigned the last two movements.

I haven't learned much of the Suzuki viola repertoire myself yet. Noah was noodling around with the fourth movement of the Telemann Double after group class and I tried to jump in and play the other part. I had to bail out after about two bars, having not heard the piece much and not having the sheet music for reference. But Noah uncharacteristically quipped "you should learn it."

This is the boy who has refused to practice with me for almost two years, who has even banned me from attending his lessons this year. The boy who even during his early years of violin/viola learning would tend to burst into tears and refuse to do any work if attempted to guide his practicing in any way. And it's not like I'm a demanding tyrant or anything, honest. He's just been so incredibly perfectionistic and sensitive to being observed.

But he mentioned the Telemann Duo to me again a day or so later. "Are you going to learn it?" I asked which part he was learning for each movement so that I could be sure to learn the complementary part. I'd need to do 2nd viola on the 3rd movement and 1st viola on the last. Okay. I got my viola out that night and borrowed his music, giving it a whirl. The next night I offered to play it with him. He said "sure" and shrugged.

We got through it with just a few stumbles. It was fun. We sounded good. So we've kept doing it each of the past four nights. Two nights ago we managed to get through the fourth movement without the written music. Last night we got through the third movement memorized. Tonight we did both movements in succession without the written music. We've been able to talk a little about bow division and dynamics and to repeat our stumbly spots. We manage to laugh together and try things over a few times. There has not been a single moment where Noah has felt stressed or frustrated or annoyed. He has not got sullen and teary once. Because I'm learning my part alongside him, rather than coaching from a situation of implied mastery, he is happy to take suggestions from me. It's just been wonderful fun.

Tomorrow I'll bring my viola to his lesson and we'll show off what we've accomplished. We both feel very proud of what we can do. But mostly we've enjoyed the process of working together.


  1. Anonymous2:19 pm

    Telemann Double playing at A's viola lesson tonight. Sounding good and joyful already - looking forward to hearing the 4 violas this summer.



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