This past week at GMCMF has been very busy and very productive in both my lessons and in chamber music, and, of course, fun!

I had my last two lessons with Dr. Dubois this week, as she is off to another music festival in Croatia (how cool is that??).  She advised that I alter my setup on the viola a bit (i.e. get a new chinrest), so earlier this week I walked the thirty minutes to the violin shop downtown to try some out.  After a couple hours of trying out different kinds of chin rests, I thought I had found THE ONE.  I was so excited, and when I came to my lesson on Tuesday…it was not quite right.  As I played on it more, the more aware I became of where I hold my tension, and this chin rest, although tall enough, exacerbated my neck pain tremendously, so I immediately returned it.

I was kind of disappointed that my first attempts at finding a chin rest failed, but I continued my search, and decided to purchase this thing called “The Impressionist”.  It’s a really neat thing, a sort of plastic blob that becomes malleable when soaked in boiling water for a few minutes, and can be re-boiled as many times as necessary, and then is placed on an existing chinrest, where you can press your jaw against it to get the exact shape you need.  It’s like a custom-made chin rest! I had to re-boil it about 4 times in order to figure out a shape that worked for me, but in my lesson on Friday it looked like it was the shape, and now I just might want to add a little more height to the chin rest by adding cork to it.  I thought this item would be great, even if it was just temporary, because it allows me to see what shape I need if I want to find a more permanent (i.e. made of wood) chin rest.

Along with my chin rest success, my string quartet rehearsals have been going great.  We finally can get through the first movement, and we’ve even begun to work on different sections to get the right emotion we want to portray, and the contrasting ones throughout the piece.  We’re taking the Kodaly at a faster tempo too, which is taking some work but it is coming along great, and although we are probably only going to perform the first movement on Tuesday of the last week, we want to work on the second movement just for our own benefit.  The second movement has a really great Hungarian folk-tune section, which is also extremely fast and extremely difficult, but it sounds awesome.  I hope we get to work on it at least somewhat.

Working with Dr. Dubois in my lessons has been life-changing.  I feel like my playing, although still a work in progress, is completely changed.  I’m working on relaxing while playing, only engaging muscles that need to be used (individual LH finger movement) and getting a good, core sound while keeping everything clean and projecting.  I’m also working on hand vibrato, as opposed to arm vibrato, which is going to take some time but I think I’m catching on pretty quickly.  I’m trying to apply everything that I’ve learned in my lessons to all of my playing, and Dr. Dubois said to me I’ve covered the amount of work in two weeks that a lot of students cover in a semester (wow!).  It may be because of the concentrated nature of the festival (4 hours of individual practice a day, chamber rehearsal every day, 6 coachings and 6 lessons in 4 weeks, etc), or because Dr. Dubois is a great teacher, but regardless, this experience has been great.  I never knew that North Texas had a good/large music school, and I think this may be an option for me for grad schools as I really enjoyed working with Dr. Dubois.

Today is my day off, but still…happy practicing!