Studying music is a very long journey

I have a student who is in her 60s.

She has been coming to take lessons for several years.

She used to come once a week and at this point, time to time, but at least once a month.

She started to play the violin when she was in elementary school, but as she grew up, she got busier with other things and became gradually away from the violin.

Since the time I first met her, she has been keeping up a very positive attitude and improving steadily.

3 years or so ago, she did pass Level 7 of ASTA-CAP (Certified Advancement Program of the American String Teachers Association).

Prior to passing the exam, she even studied Beriot Violin Concerto No. 9, expanding her knowledge and experience in violin technique.

She is a pianist as well, and she participates in the summer chamber music camp for adults almost every year, as a violinist or as a pianist. She participated in the program for last few years as a violinist, so she is planning to perform as a pianist this year, and is preparing a Beethoven Piano Trio. She told me that she has been busy learning the piano part and taking piano lessons.

Since I knew the situation, when she contacted me for a lesson,  I was wondering how much she could prepare?  I was not expecting too much.

It was about 10 days ago, she came and played the Paul Klengel cadenza of Viotti Violin Concerto no. 23 first movement, which we had been working on for a while.

A Cadenza is often written in a way that the performer’s technical skills also can be fully demonstrated, so it was not technically easy for her. 

However, when she started to play the cadenza for me, it sounded very nice and it caught my attention right away. It was “music,” and it surprised me.

Although there were some intonation problems and weak tones, the important pitches in the melody were very stable with good tone color, so I never felt uncomfortable following her music. In addition, her music had a very nice flow throughout, so it was very easy to follow without losing attention.

Of course, there are still a lot of things she can improve. At the previous lesson, I told her what is important for each section, how to practice, and what she should aim for. I was listening and it was obvious that she understood what I said and she did practice well according to my advice. Everything she could do then was coming out nicely.

I thought it would have been nice if I recorded her playing, but this impression will remain in my heart forever.

After she finished playing, I applauded and I said to her that  it was very nice! 😀

She looked down a little as if she is feeling a bit shy and said “I practiced hard!” 🙂

There are a few things I would like to cover based on your playing today, but we’ll move onto another piece. That is what I said and she looked a little surprised, as if she did not expect it.

Years ago. Remembering about myself, I was working very hard to do everything that my teacher told me at every single lesson. Even though my teacher said I should finish the work for now and move on, I was not satisfied with my performance and I was frustrated thinking why?  Sometimes, even though the teacher said, “It was very good,” I said to him “No it was not!” I regretted that I might have been a bit rude to him and feel bad about it.

So I understand very well why she looked a little surprised when I said to her let’s move on.

Studying music is a very long journey.

We learn the work, but it does not mean we don’t learn and deepen our understanding again.

Studying other works of the same composer, or of other composers, studying different forms of music, not only concertos, but also chamber music, orchestra, unaccompanied repertoire, will only help our understanding of music. It can also be helpful to touch the literature/books about performance practice or analysis of the music.

So, if your teacher says it was good, then accept the words happily and move on to other works.

You can come back to it another time, and you may see some things differently.

The world of music is enormous and very deep.

And please know that some people like my student are improving even in their 60s.

I’m happy to have her and I’m very proud of her.

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