I love the piano; if I didn’t play the harp, I’d want to play the piano. I like the sound, but more importantly I want to be able to play harmony – a bunch of notes at the same time. But I do play the harp and so, for now at least, the piano is a project for another day.
I love the cello, even more than the violin; Jacqueline du Pré is one of my absolute favourite musicians, and the cello itself sits in this wonderful aural range.
If I’m going to learn another instrument, I decided it was going to be something I could take with me on a bicycle or on the bus…
(Of course, it can always be worse – I thought moving a harp was bad until my brother, percussionist extraordinaire Robin Layne, started playing the marimba. The marimba has to be taken apart when moved, and then put back together – at least the harp stays in one piece! :) )
A few years ago (maybe 2009?) I rented a violin for a month. I didn’t find a teacher (I also didn’t look that hard), but I had fun messing around with it. Watched some videos, but didn’t come across a “Harp Tuesday” for violin ;)
Then in April of 2011 I found someone who I thought I would work well with, and I decided to go for it and take a real shot at learning to play the violin well.
Lets see if I can recall some of my thoughts as I first tackled the violin:
I was reminded again of how essential it can be to have a teacher when learning a physical sport like the violin.
I’m someone who loves learning things on my own, and am pretty good at it. But for a physical thing like learning an instrument, having a good teacher not only speeds up the learning process, but also helps make sure that you can learn at all, and are not handicapped by improper/inefficient technique.
Learning the violin is also a good reminder of what it’s like to be a beginner on an instrument, which I think is helpful for my own teaching.
Of course, one of the first challenges on a string instrument is just being able to produce a nice, even sound. I worked alot on long bows on the open strings, and trying to get as beautiful and constant a sound as possible.
And working on pitch – the harp is a fixed pitch instrument, so I haven’t had to develop my ear regarding pitch in the same way that a string player must.
Finally, noticing how much of an advantage it is knowing how to play another instrument. In particular, some thoughts on exercises vs. playing music that I will save for a separate post.
I worked away on the violin for a 3 or 4 months, until my teacher left town. I was fairly busy at that point, and so took a break until the end of last year.
Next up – buying a violin!