Growing Pains

Growth can be a painful thing.  Remember those awful growing pains you used to get in your legs when you were a kid?  My boys are going through it now.  The oldest shot up six inches in the last six months and his were terrible.  The youngest is having a much less intense growth spurt at the moment, but he is getting growing pains too.  They are pretty much unavoidable, but necessary.


I’m having my share of growing pains as well.


The violin thing is still happening but I haven’t been talking about it because I have bumped up against a weakness and I’m not solving the problems causing it as quickly as I would like.  Yes, you heard it from me.  It is the dreaded plateau.  We all have them.  There’s always a teaching point that ends up holding you up somewhere along the line.  It’s different for everyone so I can’t say what someone else’s will be, but I’ve definitely found mine.


According to my teacher, the children he teaches can be expected, on average, to get through a book a year.  With that time frame, I suppose they have more free time to experiment with new techniques, and solidify the old ones.  Because it takes them so long, they often develop a fairly mature sound within the first several years.  Unfortunately, I got through the first three books in a year and a half.  Sounds awesome, right?  Yeah, I thought it was pretty cool too until recently.


Now, I would classify the first three books as beginner books, though not everyone does.  That would make book 4 an early intermediate book.  The first three pieces introduce double stops, runs of 16th notes, and more tempo changes than before.  In addition, my teacher has begun to insist on the use of vibrato, and has gone into depth on interpretation, bow technique, and fluidity.  All these things together have pretty much stopped me in my tracks for the last six months.


Each one of these techniques is essential to developing a mature sound.  However, the confluence of all of them at just this point in time seems to have divided my focus sufficiently to prevent me from gaining a foothold on any one of them.  Without successfully navigating all of the trouble spots, I really can’t move forward.  While I understand the necessity of getting through this, being mired in the process for so long after the rapid progress through the first three books is testing my fortitude.  I’ll be a much better player at the conclusion of the process, but this particular part is somewhat painful to my ego.  Too bad it won’t make me taller.


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