So my first lesson (as an adult!) was done. What a great feeling. Yes, it was only the beginning, but as the Chinese proverb goes, ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’
In the week leading up to my second lesson whenever I had a spare moment at my desk, I’d take a pencil and practice bow technique. As mentioned in my previous article, bow technique can make or break the sound you produce, and therefore, it’s a necessary evil to get this right; nail this part and everything else will fall into place, well that’s the theory, anyway…
I decided early on that practising the violin should not be seen as some enforced chore like putting out the bins, instead I chose to view it as a time for self-indulgence, a moment to spend on my own solely focussing on me and my violin, and I found that it’s actually a great way to switch off. And when motivation may not be forthcoming one tip I learnt is to keep the violin out, as when the instrument is ensconced in its case, often it’s a matter of ‘out of sight, out of mind’…..disclaimer, this may not be great advice if you are lucky enough to own a particularly valuable Stradivarius!
So to my second lesson… The nerves I’d felt before my first lesson were far behind me and now all I felt was excitement. Petru, my tutor, arrived and after some breathing and stretching exercises we got straight to work. Naturally, we focussed a good deal on bow placement, and we did some exercises such as walking my hand spider-like up and down it with the bow vertical, we then turned to some exercises where I practiced holding the violin itself. I was taken aback to learn how weak my arms and hands were. You really will use muscles that you haven’t used before, in positions your body would have no other reason to hold. Who’d have guessed that playing the violin could hurt! Well perhaps I’m being unduly hyperbolic, but my arms and hands definitely ached somewhat during my first few lessons before my muscles had got used to the positions of holding the bow and the violin. The first few lessons can seem overwhelming with all that there is to take on board, but be patient, as it will take time for your mind and body to digest what is being asked of it. I liken this to learning to drive, which can be a little intimidating at first, but your brain soon adapts and then it becomes second nature. What really motivates me is how wonderful and rewarding it must be to pick up a violin after a tough day at work to lose myself playing in a totally natural and effortless manner. One day….