How I Spent My Staycation

… or maybe I should have titled this “How I am Spending My Staycation” because I have another day to go.

We do lots of staycations. We love going places and seeing things, but sometimes, we just want to veg.

However, during this staycation I’ve been pretty active. I’ve met my exercise goal every day of this staycation except maybe today … nope, I’m on track again today.

Usually, when I take a staycation, I write a lot. And I did get in a couple of good writing sessions on Saturday. But not much since.

Instead, I have been on a tear on my violin. I spent this summer on a quest to get the best sound possible out of my violin. It was playing particularly badly. I had tried a D string out of aluminum rather than silver because they kept fraying, but the sound was like a sick french horn. I could almost not bear to play it. The A string wasn’t much better, and the G string would slip under the bow.

Since I knew that the violin once sounded pretty good, I took it to a different luthier–one in Melbourne rather than in my hometown. I asked for his opinion of the bow and the violin, and he told me he thought they were both better than “student violins”. I took that to mean they had hope. He replaced the bridge and the sound post with upgraded versions (who knew?), and put better-quality hair on the bow. I took it home and noticed some improvement after a settling in period of about a week. Then, I changed the strings to a set that promised a warmer sound.

And suddenly, my violin was fun to play again.

Choir practice started again last week, so I had lots of new music to practice, plus I continued some favorites. I have been working all summer on Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, a piece that almost every intermediate student learns in order to master “bow crossings”, which is moving from one string to another under one bow stroke. It’s hard to play well this way. I have also been working on Dust in the Wind, because it is a nice challenge and everyone knows it. I recently added Hava Nagila, a Jewish anthem, because it really rocks, and I came up with an arrangement that includes some bow bouncing techniques that I want to master.

So other than hanging out with my daughter and my husband, that’s how I’m spending my staycation. I’m back to work on Thursday.

But for now, I’m off for my second practice session of the day!

7 Thoughts to “How I Spent My Staycation”

  1. Tia Nevitt

    So I knew Jetpack would link back to my other staycation post, which is way more interesting than this staycation post! But then, misery usually is.

  2. I tried playing the violin when I was in the 7th grade. Got tired of the teacher telling me to lift my arm. So I stuck with the piano until the 10th grade, when I took up the clarinet (because I wanted to be in the marching band). I’m pretty sure I couldn’t play it again if my life depended on it, though (since I stopped playing it after I graduated). The piano I could, but not the clarinet. I don’t remember what key is what anymore.

    Enjoy your last day of staycation!

    1. Tia Nevitt

      I started with piano when I was about 8, but never had a good teacher. The first teacher did teach me the fundamentals, but the second teacher put me in with her beginners, which was disheartening, but was where I belonged. She then proceeded to drill us with key signature memorization without teaching us what it all meant. It just seemed so random. When I was 25, I bought a keyboard and retaught myself, and learned enough music theory to understand why the key of G has an F#.

      I switched to the violin shortly afterward because I could not afford a piano, and because I was all fired up after watching Amadeus, and wanted to play SOMETHING.

  3. My brother is a music teacher, and it’s fun to watch him geek out over music theory. Most of it goes right over my head. 🙂

  4. I had no idea violins needed so much maintenance. I thought it was just tuning.

    1. Tia Nevitt

      LOL. The bows need rehairing about twice a year and the strings wear out (and sound sour) after 3 to 4 months. The bridge and the soundpost usually don’t need replacing, but I was upgrading from a student setup.

      1. A father and daughter experience. I played violin, mandolin, and octave mandola (they all have the same tuning) by ear, my sight reading rudimentary. I picked up tunes quickly – most Irish or Welsh in pub sessions or folk clubs, but have long since stopped playing, at least to any great extent. My daughter however reached Grade 8 on violin – and then, to her delight discovered she too had the innate ability to just play by ear. Sighting reading is so important but picking up a tune – on the basis that if you can whistle it you can play it – is a joy.

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