Time to prepare!
Having a brand new instrument and not really playing it is a bit frustrating. I know that it is important to prepare, and as the old adage goes
"to fail to prepare is to prepare to fail" (invented possibly by an Ofsted inspector to wind up teachers...)
I know that the idea is that we are not supposed to start things until 9th July. However, I can’t help myself as I just want to get on and play it! I have refrained from having a go at it. I've stopped myself from doing everything apart from the basic setup and putting the instrument together. At least this way I can hit the ground running when I start on 9th July. This is for a great cause and I want to make sure that I raise some much needed funding to help support the great work Home Start do.
So far I have done the following things:
- bought a viola
- installed the bridge
- tuned the strings
- got some rosin onto the bow
- downloaded trinity grade 1 specification
- bought Abracadabra Viola (it has all of the grade 1 pieces and is a tutor book too)
- worked out what scales and arpeggios I will need to do for the exam
I have also looked at a few free tutor books online for any help/guidance I can use when I start to play for real.
How things Feel
I love learning new instruments and this one is so different to what I am used to. I am a little bit nervous about playing it for the first time in front of someone as I have no idea what the sound that comes out will be like. Is watching videos on YouTube about bow hold before July 9th cheating?
In terms of making sure I play regularly and develop good intonation I think it is going to be important to play along with another instrument or multitrack my own playing. I've created the beginnings of a practice schedule so that I make sure I get to the right level - I am of course after a distinction for my Grade 1!
I am checking that the instrument is holding its tuning and that it settles down well. I am not sure if most people will borrow an instrument for this challenge as I know some instruments are very expensive to buy. Also, what musician needs yet another instrument in their house? I already have a couple of trumpets, trombones, euphonium, tuba, ukuleles, guitars & bass guitars to name but a few. I now have a viola to add to the list!
So the timetable for completion on this challenge is as follows:
|July 9th||Week 1||1st group lesson in Oxford & Complete step 1 and step 2 in Abracadabra|
|July 16th||Week 2||Complete steps 3 & 4 in Abracadabra|
|July 23rd||Week 3||Complete steps 5 & 6 in Abracadabra & G Major Scale|
|July 30th||Week 4||Complete step 7 in Abracadabra & D + G Major Scale|
|August 6th||Week 5||Complete steps 8 & 9 in Abracadabra & D + G Major Scale|
|August 13th||Week 6||Complete steps 11, 12 & 13 in Abracadabra & D + G Major Scale & Edelweiss|
|August 20th||Week 7||Complete steps 14 + 15 in Abracadabra + D + G Major Scale + Arpeggio + Edelweiss + Edelweiss, We’re off to see the Wizard and Summer is icumen in|
|August 27th||Week 8||Complete steps 16 & 17 in Abracadabra & D + G Major Scale & Arpeggio & Edelweiss & Edelweiss, We’re off to see the Wizard and Summer is icumen in|
|September 3rd||Week 9||Complete steps 18, 19 & 20 in Abracadabra & D, G & C Major Scale & Arpeggio & Edelweiss, We’re off to see the Wizard and Summer is icumen in|
|September 10th||Last Day!||Grade 1 Exam in Oxford & 1st Concert in Oxford|
I am not sure how I have ended up having 9 weeks as I am sure that there is only supposed to be 8 weeks to do this challenge. Maybe I will need to relook at things if I need to reduce it all to just 8 weeks.
Prepare for the Future
I am already beginning to contemplate the idea of trying to do the same with grade 2. I wonder if that could be done in 8 weeks too? Could this mean that there is the potential of being able to play at grade 5 standard (not just three pieces learned well) within just 40 weeks?
I know that does appear to be a little forward looking and quite optimistic in terms of the time i have available to practice and play. Surely this is all part of the challenge of learning an instrument as an adult. It's also a good way to remind myself of the challenges that my students face on a daily basis. How is it possible to carve out the time needed to work on playing an instrument when things are already so very hectic?
Hopefully, I will find a way through this. More importantly, I'll be able to provide a better answer to my students that struggle to fit in practice time. My usual answer is ‘well, I’m very busy too and I know it can sometimes be tricky, but the only way to get better is to make the time’. Although this may be true, it isn’t very helpful for a 10 year old and especially unhelpful for an adult!