The old man had his first violin lesson today. Teacher is approximately the same age as he, and her first question was: "Are you nervous?"
Oh yes, I most certainly was, and I told her so. I said that it was a difficult proposition for a adult to know that he was about to screw up something like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (which sounds more like Starkle Starkle Little Twink when I play it). I mean, I wasn't quivering in my boots, but I was experiencing some qualms, some of which I shared with you two posts back .
But she is quite a down to earth type, and we chatted, and she told me about another older student that she once had. He had taken lessons from another teacher who retired or moved – I forget exactly what the reason, and it's irrelevant anyway. The point is that this guy could already play fairly well, but he was so hesitant that he sat through two sessions with her before he would play a piece. Except for his former teacher, nobody had ever heard him play. Apparently, this even included his wife because he used a muffler on the fiddle when he practised in the house.
I told Teacher that I wasn't nearly that nervous or reluctant or whatever, but mostly we talked, and I relaxed very quickly. She spent a lot of time showing me how to properly hold the bow and how to draw it across the strings. It's all much more complicated than I guessed. You position your fingers just so and grip very firmly. You get your elbow up and shoulder down. You rest the instrument firmly under your chin, but you make sure not to grit your teeth. And then you relax. Say what?!
I did play a few pieces for her, but the new position was very foreign, so it wasn't as good as in practice, but although I felt a bit stupid when I hit two strings or missed notes, I didn't mind terribly much or feel too very embarrassed. I mean to say that I did feel a little embarrassed, but who wouldn't?
She seems to think that there is some hope for me. She decided that, for now at least, she didn't have to tape markers under the strings to show me where my fingers should go. I guess that's good, and I suppose that it means that they fall more or less where they're supposed to. She did remark that my goals seemed realistic. Apparently, some mature students come to her expecting to become concert violinists, and, of course, she needs to disabuse them of that notion.
I think that I will concentrate on simple pieces this week. I had been nearing the end of the beginners instruction book that I had picked up and had been trying to learn a couple of jigs near the end of it. They are a lot of fun, but I have to concentrate so much on the speed and fingering that I tend to lose whatever technique that she is trying to instill in me.
One other thing that is a little bit funny: during the lesson, when I was practising the bowing technique, I began to look at her. She advised me to look at the strings because there was nothing on her face that would help me. I replied that I was looking for approval. She laughed: "You're doing really well, AC."
That's the story so far. Aren't you proud of me? Do I have your approval?