Mechanical or Intuitive: Which Approach Works Best for You? – A Real-World Lesson (Part II)

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The Conclusion of: “Style or Substance? A Real-World Lesson – A Real-World Lesson (Part I)

“Yes, you may hit the right notes more often than Chris,” she began, “but your intuitive desire to physically search for the perfect note interferes with the broader tempo of the entire piece. Chris is mechanical. To him, keeping that tempo is more important than finding the perfect pitch. The concertmaster’s job is to lead the entire orchestra in maintaining this tempo.”

The answer shocked me. I never thought of myself as a mere machine. But there it was. The teacher had just said so. I was mechanical, not intuitive.

This didn’t sound right. How could a machine find the joy in playing the way I did? Wasn’t a machine dispassionate? Doesn’t a machine work precisely because it has Continue Reading “Mechanical or Intuitive: Which Approach Works Best for You? – A Real-World Lesson (Part II)”

Style or Substance? A Real-World Lesson (Part I)

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I never had someone so mad at me. And for no reason. We were both in tenth grade. Except for orchestra, we shared no other classes. We did share an Italian-American heritage. And she was mad in a way only an Italian-American can get mad. I’d seen it all before. In my extended family. In my neighborhood. In the dark alleys of the most obscure hallways within the school.

I just didn’t get it. I didn’t even know what a concertmaster was. Yet, there I was. Her, me, and the violin teacher.

But I get ahead of myself. Let’s go back to the beginning of the story…Continue Reading “Style or Substance? A Real-World Lesson (Part I)”

Life In the Pits (Part III)

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For the previous installment – and to better understand the twist at the end of this article – you should first read “Life in the Pit (Part I).”

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAMoving is never easy for a youngster. To have a comfortable routine suddenly ripped from you can devastate a psyche that perhaps has not yet fully matured. In my personal case, I can say that my moving from one city to another at the tender age of ten-and-a-half represents an essential element of who I’ve become. It forced me to recognize things much quicker than my peers. I am, and always will be, eternally grateful for the opportunity moving presented.

On the other hand, I will forever complain about it. Too many changes. Too many lost friendships. And, in the end, too much guilt (but that’s another story). This particular story continues what we started several weeks ago and ends with a topic that may be more Continue Reading “Life In the Pits (Part III)”

Life in the Pit (Part I)

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violin-player-1565772The young mother worried as she made her way to the teacher conference. Her third grade son’s violin instructor had asked her “if she had time to talk.” As a teacher herself, the boy’s mom knew what this meant. She had already begun to imagine various excuses she could offer. “I try everything to get him to practice, but he’s more interested in listening to football with his father.” “His first choice was to play the trumpet, but the school’s music people said he didn’t have the right lips.” “Actually, he really wanted to play the drums, but we thought it would be too loud.”

Most of all she worried about her son. It was her first. With another son following only 15 months behind and now a baby daughter, she realized what every parent realizes at this point – she and her husband were outnumbered. Was she spending too much time with her youngest at the expense of her oldest? She had witnessed such downward spirals first hand in the students she taught. Was she becoming the mother she, in her own role as teacher, once haughtily disdained?

She was about to find out.Continue Reading “Life in the Pit (Part I)”

More Lasting Than Bronze

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Exegi monumentum aere perennius.

Horace begins a sarcastic ode on his own immortality with the above phrase, which translates to “I have erected a monument more lasting than bronze.” 967194_45349181_Roman_Ruins_stock_xchng_royalty_free_300Ironically, in our continuing study of this poem, Horace has, indeed, achieved a form of immortality, one invulnerable to the physical ravages of time.

Last week I wrote a fanciful speech I never intended to deliver (“Et tu, Espagnol?”). This week, however, fate guided me to the School Board meeting where, with no preparation I delivered the following remarks (perhaps slightly embellished for the purposes of this page):

“I am reminded of a time some twenty or so years ago when a different Continue Reading “More Lasting Than Bronze”