Second Fiddle

First off, day three of string camp was great.  I don’t know exactly what happened, but a switch must have flipped overnight because it was fine.  Nothing changed about my playing other than the fact that I had more familiarity with the music.  Maybe that was it.  Having slept on it, my mind probably assimilated everything and I could finally move forward.

That has been my modus operandi since I started playing.
1. Get assigned a piece and go over the hard parts slowly.2. Go home and analyze the piece – break into smaller, more manageable chunks, and try to perfect by the next lesson.
3. Have lesson – figure out with the teacher what needs more work.
4. Rinse & repeat.

Now here is what I haven’t been doing:
1. Drilling scales, arpeggios, and etudes.
2. Practicing with a metronome.
3. Playing anything for fun (i.e. sight reading practice)
4. Reviewing old pieces.
5. Focusing on dynamics and time signatures.

Basically, I have been getting by because I work hard at just what I need to do to get through a lesson.  That doesn’t work if I want to reach my goal of being able to play with others.  I know what I need to do now.  The trick will be to rise to my own expectations.

The thing is, I really do not want to quit and I’m mucho embarrassed by how emotional I was those first two days.  So what if I couldn’t play, right?  There were things I could do to make the situation easier.  I could have practiced the violin II part more before the camp.  I could have planned my time more wisely.  Knowing I get anxious, I could have gotten a script for Xanax (possibly-not sure on that one).  Perhaps I could have asked to move to the back of the section where I wouldn’t have felt so exposed.  I know I said I don’t have time to play fun stuff and that’s true.  But why is that true?  How can I plan my time better to make sure I feel like a success and not a failure?  So time management also needs to play a part in the equation.

We did perform at the end of camp.  The general track group played the orchestral number.  I still don’t like the piece, but I understand the educational significance for it.  Was it perfect?  Not even slightly.  Was I the only one who messed up?  Not remotely.  On day three I was able to expand my tunnel vision to something that was more attuned to the group as a whole rather than my flaws as the sole object of my attention.

The camp also focused on small chamber groups that also performed at the end of the camp.  There were several very talented people in mine, and everyone else was a more confident player than I am.  In our small group, we had an interesting situation in that there was one very self-assured player who frequently pushed the tempo and volume because he wanted to be a star.  And we had another self-assured and extremely competent player who was more interested in the group’s ability to play well as a whole.  The result was the one show-off player looked exactly like what he was, and the rest of us put on, not a flawless, but a credible performance despite him, thanks to the rock-steady support of the other fellow.  I learned that I really want the group to perform well as a whole rather than be a super star.  I don’t mind being second fiddle.  Now I just have to do the work that will let me be a good one.

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2 thoughts on “Second Fiddle

  1. I feel so much better after reading this. I was worried, and I no longer am. Last summer at a fiddle fest I bought my granddaughter a shirt that says “second fiddle to no one”.

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