Author Topic: So, I've had a long-time interest in classical strings~  (Read 658 times)

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Offline Synaptic Road

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So, I've had a long-time interest in classical strings~
« on: July 04, 2015, 10:34:40 pm »
Specifically, the violin and viola.  Instead of explaining everything all over again here, I'll just copy/paste the post I made on the general discussion forum on the Suzuki Association site:

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There’s actually a lot I need to explain, though, as my lifestyle is anything but what you’d call “standard” or “conventional.”

I’ve had a long-time interest in classical strings—in particular, the violin and viola. However, I’ve never really had the opportunity to try either until now, really.. I did take piano lessons when I was 12 or so, but I didn’t like it—at this point, I understand my personal needs well enough to say that it was because I hated having to sit and do anything for extended periods of time. This being said, I’m 26 now, and I do understand my own needs to a far greater extent than I did back then.

I’ve actually adopted a nomadic lifestyle that revolves around benevolence and making a positive impact no matter where in the world I am—a choice I made after learning the hard way that a “normal” lifestyle isn’t for me (by enduring it for a while). For the sake of relevance, I can’t learn to play an instrument effectively (or learn anything effectively, for that matter) by taking “lessons,” per se, or otherwise being restricted by a set of “standards.” In order to learn effectively and enjoyably, I need to be able to learn on my own terms and at my own discretion, and I need to be able to make personal accommodations and adjustments in kind.

Put simply, I’d never be able to learn to play a violin or viola well if I’m taking lessons from someone else—in my case, it’s far more effective for an instructor or mentor to give me small things to start with and allow me to do the rest on my own, making those adjustments as necessary and learning from my own experience (and the mistakes I will make).

There are a few things I need to mention, though:

I’m hypersensitive to sound…or, more precisely, my auditory sense is hypersensitive. Considering the posture in which many of the smaller classical strings are played and how close they would be to my head, I’m a little wary about a sensory overload because of the sound produced from the bow being drawn against the strings, as well as the pitch (I’d have to try both to be certain, but I’m guessing that I’d be able to handle an instrument more easily if it has a lower pitch range, as opposed to higher).

I have far too much natural energy to play an instrument in a standing or otherwise “stationary” position. Even subtle body movements are not enough—in order for me to play an instrument comfortably, I’d need to make it into a full-body activity, which in my case equates to nothing less than “physical exercise.” I can’t do this with a piano or any other large instrument, and this is another reason the violin or viola would be best for me—it’s portable enough that I can easily make it into a full-body activity and enjoy it as such. Something else about me is that there are times when I’m practically brimming with that natural vigor, and if I can’t release it, I feel physical and emotional stress…so if the only moving part of my body is the arm and hand that control the bow, I’ll probably ruin the instrument’s strings because that’s where all my excess energy will go.

I spend a lot of time outdoors—it’s my outlet for stress in general, it’s where a lot of my insight and introspection take place, and it’s where I ponder practically everything, both past and present. Needless to say, I’d spend most of my practice time outdoors. Because I have a very deep connection with the living world in general—animals, both “human” and not, nature, all life, and the very planet itself—my surrounding environment would serve as a lot of my inspiration. I suppose if there’s anyone I can think of off the top of my head who’s most similar to me in these senses, it would be Lindsey Stirling.

That’s pretty much the gist of my topic. I figured this would be a good place to start, and I’ve read about Dr. Suzuki’s teaching method—though it’s different from what would work best for me, it shares more in common than the more “traditional” methods. Also, my reason for taking up an instrument is not to make any sort of “profit”—as per my lifestyle choice, I would use it for the purpose of making a positive impact in some way.

Also, this was a comment I made in response to user who commented and talked about the importance of having a teacher for the purpose of "foundation" and learning techniques:

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I do understand the purpose of teachers, but something I’ve seen is that most teachers wouldn’t be the sort to give the student something very basic to work with and then tell them to take it from there—the kind of learning method that’s most effective for me, personally. I need to be able to make mistakes, and I need to learn from them on my own with very little outside guidance. I need to figure things out on my own, and I need to do things my way to avoid stress and anxiety. I need all of this in order to learn effectively. For me, a great teacher would be someone who’d give me something to start with and tell me to do the rest from there; they’d be someone whom I could go to for a little bit of guidance when I get stuck, but would again give me a pointer and expect me to take it from there instead of “telling me what I need to do differently.”

You can probably already tell that I’m very good at doing things myself, but I’ve drawn countless bits of insight from differing perspectives and people who aren’t me. I can certainly understand your point about a foundation for technique, and that’s really the only reason I’d even go to a teacher at all: to get some “fundamental insight.” Having someone hold my hand through a process or even “break down the process” as you’ve described is restrictive and stressful for me, and a hindrance to my learning. I’ve heard quite a bit about the violin and viola being difficult, but yet another thing about me is how I gravitate toward finding ways to circumvent personal obstacles and experiment with various approaches to make difficult circumstances easier to handle.

Since you mentioned “driving,” well…I’m visually impaired to where I’m considered “legally blind,” and so I can’t ever get a license. I have four congenital conditions in each eye, and corrective surgery would be a waste, as some of them cannot be corrected. Part of the reason I’m outside all the time is because I circumvent the limitation posed by my vision by walking everywhere in almost every instance. It’s the main reason I have as much stamina and natural vigor as I do, and is why it’d be better for me to play an instrument outside (provided nature permits). Since I draw a lot of inspiration from my surroundings, being outside would facilitate my technique, along with my experimentation.

There’s a music place nearby, and I’ve already contacted them about walking in and trying one of their violins; they said it’s fine. I don’t believe they’ll have every answer or even “many” answers, but I do believe they’ll have some sort of basic starting insight. Considering how vastly different my lifestyle and general approach to things are, I wouldn’t be surprised if what fits me best is a custom-made instrument tailored to my approach.

I do appreciate the feedback I’m getting here, though—I’ll throw it in with the rest of the musical insight and see if I can’t come up with anything. Thank you for that~

...Yeahhh, I do things very differently, haha.  I haven't been to the Yenney Music Company yet because I've been spending much of my time just meandering outdoors and also getting situated with volunteer stuff, but I do need to make a point to stop getting sidetracked.  xD

Offline cause the rat

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Re: So, I've had a long-time interest in classical strings~
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2015, 09:40:42 am »
First find a teacher that is willing to only teach you technique. You may still need some reading skills to help you along. You can get plenty of instruction on line. But a good teacher will be a big help. Someone who can guide you away from problems before they become habits. Also most violins are the same in shape. Tone is where there's a big difference. And that WILL change. The bow is where it's at. It's the very thing that changes all. The right bow feels, reacts and plays right in your hand. I've tried ones in the thousands to the $30 cheapo I started with. The one that I have now is heavy. Most players would call it clunky. But in my hands it's magic. Don't be surprised you spend just as much or more on a bow than you did on your violin. Good horse hair and don't buy the cheap resin. Not worth the containers they come in.

As far as moving around wile playing goes, good luck. : ) You don't see very many people do this for a reason. Or if they are moving they're playing very simple parts at that time. The two points that hold the violin in place is your chin and shoulder. Not your left hand.

Just go for it! Hope to hear from you soon about this.
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Offline Synaptic Road

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Re: So, I've had a long-time interest in classical strings~
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2015, 10:43:57 am »
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First find a teacher that is willing to only teach you technique. You may still need some reading skills to help you along. You can get plenty of instruction on line. But a good teacher will be a big help. Someone who can guide you away from problems before they become habits. Also most violins are the same in shape. Tone is where there's a big difference. And that WILL change. The bow is where it's at. It's the very thing that changes all. The right bow feels, reacts and plays right in your hand. I've tried ones in the thousands to the $30 cheapo I started with. The one that I have now is heavy. Most players would call it clunky. But in my hands it's magic. Don't be surprised you spend just as much or more on a bow than you did on your violin. Good horse hair and don't buy the cheap resin. Not worth the containers they come in.

Yeah, I've already pondered all of this.  It might sound weird to you, but I've gotten to where I can stop and go back to the drawing board when something doesn't feel right - and that's in a holistic sense.  The tone, the bow's reaction, and how it feels in my hand are part of this, but I'm also keen to things like my own movements, how much energy I put into my movements and where that energy goes, how that would affect the instrument, how certain environments would affect my performance (and how it would carry through the violin's melodic expression), and other things a violin teacher couldn't give me any lessons on simply because "they're not me."  In order to play a violin effectviely, you do have to be in tune with yourself as well, and that leads into the next part of your comment.

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As far as moving around wile playing goes, good luck. : ) You don't see very many people do this for a reason. Or if they are moving they're playing very simple parts at that time. The two points that hold the violin in place is your chin and shoulder. Not your left hand.

That last part...I already know this, too.  The only thing the passive hand really does is hold the neck and perform fingerboard movements.  As for "the reason many people don't move around while playing," the reasons are inevitably different in some way for each individual, but moving around while playing requires a lot of physical stamina and mental focus...or, as I said, being "in tune" with oneself as well as with the instrument.  This is different for everyone, and the reason people play so many different kinds of instruments. 

The reason I've had an interest in classical strings is simply because they're what I've gravitated most naturally to.  Trust me, I'm aware of the violin's and viola's difficulty, and also how my approach would be even more difficult than normal.  Most people are stationary when they play a violin simply because most people don't have the stamina and focus required to play it effectively while moving (which also changes how one plays the violin overall).  I'd certainly do well to start off by standing and playing, but when I said "I have far too much natural energy and vigor to be still like most people," I wasn't joking at all.  In fact, there are many times when I'm brimming with that natural energy, and if I can't release it, it actually comes back to me in the form of physical and mental stress.  The reason I'd have to move around while playing is mainly because that's how I'd regulate my own natural energy; if I'm just standing and playing, I'm going to feel that stress because I won't be able to release that energy, and that stress will go into my bow motions.  Because of the sheer intensity of that stress, it could mean ruin for the instrument since that's the only place I'd be able to release all of that energy.

Everything I've said is stuff I had to figure out on my own though lots and lots of introspection and retrospection, self-awareness, control, and discipline.  No "teacher" could have ever told me any of this, and that's the reason a good teacher for me would be someone who would give me simple pointers with the expectation that I'll figure the rest out on my own.  That being said...

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Just go for it!

There is no better way for me or anyone else to learn than that.  In fact, that's pretty much the only way, haha - it may be good that I understand myself as I do, but that doesn't mean anything without follow-up action.  I'm also aware that the instrument that's best suited for me may not be a violin, but a custom-made instrument that "is like a violin, but isn't a violin."