Violin: (Part the Last)
When last we left our intrepid protagonist he was poised on the threshold of a bad 'Carry-On' film, trapped in the abode of an voluptuous violinist for sixty minutes a week with no barriers whatsoever between him and an vicious montage of sexual frustration and faux-pas. What lurid misadventures will our terminally-needy-narrator encounter? With a set-up like this, who knows what zany shenanigans and wacky antics are about to occur? So tell us 'Tears Before Bedtime', what happened next?
Well, in short: nothing really.
(See, that was a rhetorical device I just used. I got you all excited with the big sexy cliffhanger at conclusion of the last episode, left you a fortnight to imagine all kinds of bawdy hijinks and then comically subverted your expectations by describing the reality in an anticlimactic manner. Writing: it's all about the craft.)
|(You just got served)|
It's pretty hard to have squishy-feelings when you're concentrating as hard as you possibly can to play seven little bars to the best of your ability. Unless I'm in a hypnotic trance, chances are that I'll fuck it up. This doesn't give me much room for fantasies or erections; being the dirty-minded, desperate bugger I usually am. I'm paying a lot for these lessons, and I can be filthy-minded in my spare time for free.
With this in mind, you'd think that the learning process would be all hunky-dory from that point on wouldn't you? Well you'd be wrong. My teacher wasn't a problem, but EVERYTHING ELSE was.
|(Violin: serious business for ugly virgins)|
Before you judge, hear me out. For all of you smug bastards out there with the good fortune to actually possess some self-confidence, let me just dispel that cute delusion you have about your own aptitude with a little exercise. After you've finished doing something you're proud of: a two-hour gym session, a lab-report, a shift at work, whatever it is that makes you proud, just go an pick up an unfamiliar instrument.
|(No, not that one, pick again)|
Go for that cello over there. Yeah, there you go pal. Right. Now play something. Don't worry, I'll give you time. Alright? 1...2...3 ...4
HA! AWFUL! FUCKING AWFUL! Put that down before you hurt yourself you clod! You don't know what you're doing do you? You cretinous fucking wazzock. Are your fingers stiff? Does you neck hurt? Yeah, you bet it does. You're feeling pretty slow right now, huh? This isn't advanced biochemistry or army-training or amateur bomb-disposal bitch! THIS IS STRINGS WE'RE TALKING ABOUT! AND IT'S HARDER THAN A METRIC TON OF DIAMOND! IF YOU CAN'T STAND THE HEAT GET OUT OF THE OVEN! PUSSY!
This litany of abuse echoes through the inside of my skull every time I fail to play 'Little Brown Jug' with any competence. I am my own drill-sargeant. This is my violin. There are many others like it, but this one is mine.
|("WHAT IS YOUR MAJOR MALFUNCTION?")|
I often need to listen to the music I play on YouTube to get a feel for what each piece should sound like. I'm not kidding, virtually every video features a nauseatingly sweet five-year-old fiddling away, a beatific expression adorning their rosy countenance, with umpteen-hundred comments complimenting the little prodigy. These kids don't even know what they're playing, and neither do they care. It's all operant conditioning by this point. They just want to finish the next phrase so they can be rewarded with McDonalds and watch Cartoon Network.
|(And who wouldn't after all?)|
It's frustrating, but you can't be frustrated because it's frustration you've brought upon yourself. It's not an act of god to find yourself trying to get this lump of wood and horsehair to make a gorgeous sound, it was your choice. But that doesn't make it any easier.
|(So calm right now)|
You have to press your fingers down at exactly the right positions on the strings as you play, which is bloody sore before they've had a chance to callus, not too sharp and not too flat, and you have to bow without swinging from your shoulder and some pieces have you start on an up-bow and others from a down-bow and if you don't remember which is which then you'll get muddled as you go along.
And then there's some notes which are three beats, and one-and-a-half beats, which I can't even count in my head that well, and there's dynamics to take into account and you have to keep your wrist slack and your fingers curled, and remember to read ahead so you know what's coming next, and don't even get me started on slurring and eventually all this information is pureed into a nebulous hybrid of arbitrary rules and notations and your teacher's all like; "you just played this right, how can you not get it now?", which doesn't feel fair because she was probably on grade 3 when she was in the womb, and it feels like your cerebellum is melting and BLASTED FURNACES OF HELL WHY CAN'T THIS BLOODY THING JUST MAKE THE NICE NOISE - ARHJQSLSNEDBWHPI!@£*&£^TGDR£-!!!
So yeah, maybe the learning curve is so steep it's almost vertical. Maybe it's difficult to hold your violin steady when there's a cat in the room making you sneeze. Maybe sometimes it's like the relationship between you and the instrument is all-give and no-take. Maybe beauty is frustrating and hard and the exhausting struggle to attain it'll put you in a shitty mood most of the time.
|(Yeah, fuck you violin! See you in hell mate!)|
|(I have no idea what he's supposed to be wearing here)|
Think about it. What have you wanted to do but never got round to? What's on your bucket list that you could start today? Go on a trip, or learn a new language? Cooking, driving, shit I dunno, skydiving and gator-wrestling, there's gotta be something you want. I don't wanna get all preachy and life-coach on you, but it really is your choice. There's nothing holding you back but time, money and effort. Tell me about it; what is it that you want to learn?
So as a 'reward' (read; 'cruel and unwarranted punishment') I thought I'd treat you guys to a little performance for taking the time to stick with this blog so far. Don't tell me I'm good or I'll know you're a lying sycophant, and don't say I'm bad or I'll cry ... but comment anyway. Alright? Alright.
(Today I read John Steinbeck's 'The Pearl', a book so short that it probably counts as a quantum event. It's Steinbeck, so the prose is peerless, the description sweeping and majestic, the characters downtrodden and hopeless. It tells the tragedy of Kino, a Mexican pearl-diver who is punished for the heinous crime of wanting his son to go to school after finding the eponymous ball of dried mucus. Don't get ideas above your station Mexicans. Go to school. Honestly, give them an inch and they'll take a yard.)
|(Apparently it's ironic. Go figure)|