Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Second Instrument?

This post might not be relevant to my fellow piano teacher friends and bloggers but I thought I'd share my little excitement about continuing the violin again and I am curious how many of you play a second instrument. I have always loved the sound of the violin and it's been a lifelong dream for as long as I can remember to be able to play this instrument like the soul yearns to hear. As a child, I enjoyed accompanying my father when he played the violin and always wished I could play as well as he did, envying particularly the warmth and beauty that the vibratto brings. Piano was then my main instrument and having had to practice 2-3 hours a day on top of school and homework, I realized that I had to choose between the two instruments to keep up with the workload and still do reasonably well. Since then, I have been fortunate to advance on the piano but not without a sacrifice, leaving violin music purely for listening and appreciation.
A month ago, I listened to a CD recording of Midori's Mendelssohn's Violin concerto in E minor which deeply moved me.  It got me thinking that perhaps one day I will be able to play the violin at a decent level that one might be able to appreciate.  I had incidentally played the CD for a student who needed some direction with the concept of "a musical performance" and to experience what it means to have a beautiful phrase.  I turned to violin music this time. We listened and examined a combination of  dynamics employed,  the expressive vibratto, the long lines shaping the melody and most importantly the performer's emotions that had communicated a message, eliciting a certain mood that we could both identify with. The result was astounding when we finished listening to the 1st movt. The student could instantly relate to the concept of phrasing, the rise and fall of a melody, the subtle nuances, the rubato and translate it to her piano music which made the 2nd rendition of her work quite musically sound!  It would otherwise have taken many words and still not get the point across. The way the music communicated my intent was magical!
It was then I felt an overwhelming aspiration to pick up the violin from where I left off and make a lifelong goal to work towards attaining the sound and music I would love to hear from the violin. With this new goal, I set out on a google search for tutorials and was thrilled to discover the Violin.lab created by Beth Blackerby, whom I found inspirational and understanding of the challenges that adults face when learning the violin. This website is primarily created for adult students and offers over 250 videos discussing violin techniques from beginner to advance levels. I'm excited to explore the art of playing the violin and working through online videos at this stage. I hope that with a burning desire to play this instrument and through lots of perseverance, good time management and DISCIPLINE, I will be able to get where I want to be with  the violin. Please share your story if you play a second instrument...how did you arrive at selecting the next instrument, did you pick it up in your adulthood?

11 comments:

  1. I play a psaltery, which can be played with either a bow or a pick. I use a small violin bow to play, and I quite enjoy it.
    I, too, had to choose when I was a teenager between piano and flute. My sister left piano and took up violin. My brother left piano and took up trumpet. My mom strongly advised me to stick with piano- she could sense that I had talent. She was right, and I'm so glad I stuck with piano. I got my psaltery and learned it as a college student (it's not very difficult to learn). If I ever picked up a new instrument, it would be after I complete my piano degree goals, and it would be either violin or cello- I love both of those!!
    Good luck with your new endeavor!

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  2. I also have always LOVED the violin! In high school I picked up a litte guitar, just mostly teaching myself, and played with a few friends. It was a great introduction into the world of stringed instruments! While I was in college I (finally!) had the opportunity to take violin. My time, however, was obviously extremely limited, so I did not have much time to practice. I had to choose which was most important to me at the time, and it had to be piano, as I played for several musical groups. So I would say that I have just dabbled in violin, but I enjoy getting it out once in a while. Maybe one of these days I'll have more of a chance to get serious about it. Right now, when I do pick up the violin, my cat goes and hides under my bed. I can take the hint!!! :)

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  3. I also play the guitar and an Appalachian dulcimer. I picked the guitar up in high school, and I've found understanding chords and chord progressions for guitar has carried over very nicely to piano. The dulcimer is something that I picked up a couple of years ago. It's a very different instrument, and I've been having fun playing around with it and learning a new instrument.

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  4. I started piano lessons at age 6, and did school band, then eventually private lessons for both piano and flute through middle high school and some college. I got a music minor, but focused on an MS in an unrelated field. When I decided to stay home with my daughters, and friends started to ask me to teach piano, I found that I loved it! Then I discovered a community orchestra that was very easy going, and I started playing the flute again. This summer I'm taking lessons from the the first flutist. I love the violin, and must confess to some envy when I watch the violin section in the orchestra!

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  5. WOW! Thank you everyone for your comments, I really enjoy learning about your experience playing a second instrument :)

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  6. I play flute and classical guitar. Played flute starting in the 5th grade and started classical guitar in college and took lessons in college for 3 years. Knowing piano was definitely a plus since I was able to pick up other instruments so much faster. I love violin too... took some lessons in college and in my early 30's. But I quickly learned that it's so much harder than I thought. Good luck :) I know you'll love taking lessons.

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  7. I started piano lessons at age 7 and violin lessons at age 10. I loved both and so throughout high school I practiced 2 hours on the piano and 1 hour on the violin everyday. I had more natural talent for piano. But I loved being involved in youth orchestras and playing with a quartet. It was extra fun for me to be able to play the piano with one group and then switch and play the 2nd violin part for the next number. In high school I realized that there were more college scholarships for violist so my senior year I started playing the viola. It worked. I got a double scholarship for piano and viola! I am very grateful for such a full and rewarding musical life.

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  8. Hi Laura, it is very interesting to see someone actually playing the Appalachian dulcimer. I have always been very intrigued by that instrument due to its prominence in Joni Mitchell's classic album "Blue" (one of my favourites), especially in the track "A Case of You". Along the same Zither family, have you heard of and tried the "guqin" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guqin) - an ancient Chinese zither - directly translated, Gu = old, ancient and qin = piano. This is not to be confused with Guzheng (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guzheng) which is the modern version of the Chinese zither.

    What I found intriguing was that the Appalachian dulcimer sounds very much like the Guqin (if you are interested, you can hear the sound and the instrument being played in both these excellent movies - "Hero" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hero_(2002_film) and - "Red Cliff - Part 1" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Cliff_(film)

    Just a little bit of trivia I suppose.

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  9. Thanks Susan, it's quite challenging but I'm glad that the vibratto is emerging slowly.
    Dizzy Lizzy, lucky that you're playing both instruments well and what an experience to play and belong to an orchestra! It MUST be SO fun and rewarding to make music as a group. Thanks for sharing your little story.

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  10. I have been playing piano since I was four years old, and because I was home-schooled, I had the ability to pick up other instruments because my schooling took less time than the average child. I picked up recorder first, then guitar, then violin. Piano is the only one that I still practice everyday, but I do enjoy playing the others. Also, having played piano for so long, it was relatively easy for me to pick up organ, somewhat. Thanks for this post, it prodded me to practice guitar more! :)

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  11. PianoLessonGirl, thank you for sharing your experiences with 4 instruments!! That's quite amazing!

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Thank you for your comments and thoughts, I enjoy reading them

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