“Play C major like it’s the most beautiful piece of music you’ve ever heard,” said my teacher during my first (adult) lesson. “Plenty of dynamics and vibrato…”
Like a lot of people, I find that kind of thing a bit awkward. Playing with passion makes you feel exposed. Adding your own dynamics smacks of showing off. Vibrato is a bit… un-English. So much easier to just plod faithfully through it, eyes fixed on the music, focusing on keeping time and getting the accidentals in the right place. But, as teacher pointed out, it’s not all about time signatures and chromatic scales, it’s about making a beautiful sound, no matter what you’re playing. And working on the principle that if something feels difficult it’s exactly what you should be doing, embarrassing is good.
Here are some of the other things I learnt:
- I’ve been holding my bow the wrong way for at least 15 years
- Strings need to be replaced every now and again, even if they don’t break
- If your neck really aches after you’ve been playing, you’re probably holding the instrument the wrong way
- Having the occasional lesson is very worthwhile