I’m a little late in updating how my summer has been going — Green Mountain is about 3/4 over! But I have been learning a lot:
This summer I studied with Sheila Browne (UNSCA) and Susan Dubois (UNT). Both are Karen Tuttle students, so they had very similar ideas, but different ways of approaching them. My first 3 lessons with Sheila were great! She really helped me bring out more musicality in my playing and to find more direction in where I’m going in the music. She also gave me some great bow techniques to work on getting more “core” to my sound — an almost piercing clarity to the pitch. As a violist, it’s important to bring out this deep, clear tone, even while playing piano or pianissimo, and often times it requires coaxing of the strings (especially G and C). Learning this sensitivity, and being aware of all my fingers in my right hand, has been a real challenge for me, requiring a lot of time and patience.
I’ve only had one lesson with Susan so far, but I also took lessons with her last summer when I attended this festival. We expanded upon what Sheila had taught me, focusing on the right elbow, string levels, and releasing my neck and body so everything is relaxed. I’ve found that adjusting my posture so that it feels that I’m almost leaning backwards has really helped my core sound, now the trick is to make it a habit. I’m still working on adjusting my setup (chin rest/shoulder rest combination), and I may have to add some height to my chin rest, mostly because I feel like I am just adding more weight to my shoulder rest while trying to add height, and it is also making my left arm work harder because it has to be higher.
Another thing that I have been noticing lately, even before I came to Green Mountain, was a tingling between my left shoulder blade and spine. It may just take some time with all of this relaxing I’m trying to do, but I’ve tried massaging it and stretching every time I practice, and nothing seems to help. It occurs on and off during the day, not just when I’m practicing either. It’s probably just a pinched nerve, but I hope I don’t start losing feeling…I will probably go see my doctor and/or chiropractor when I return to Florida.
Since next week is the last week of the festival, afterwards I am heading up to Montréal to take a lesson with Jutta Puchhammer-Sédillot. I’m staying with a student of hers, and will spend a few days in Montréal as well, visiting with another friend from USF. I’m really looking forward to this trip, especially because I went on the day trip with the festival to Montréal, and I loved the city.
My other post-festival trips include a family vacation to Maine/New England, which will be great! Although I will still be practicing a lot — need to prepare for my Fulbright application and learn all of Bartok, Schumann, and some Bach.