Friday, March 31, 2006

JB Plays Tchaik

I saw Joshua Bell perform the Tchaikovsky Concerto today with the Boston Symphony! FavoriteBoy and I were given free tickets (yay!), and Ellen and Marta came too. It was a good time - despite the near-disaster we had trying to find parking and the horrible traffic on the way back.

Joshua was amazing. His outfit was odd (yes, it was an afternoon concert, but an untucked shirt open at the neck?), but he was amazing. However, I must say that I felt validated as a violinist, because he made mistakes. When I worked on that piece last semester, I felt like I was hitting my head against a wall because it is so hard. But Joshua Bell made mistakes!

The second half of the program was Brahms Symphony No. 4, which was also quite glorious. But not as glorious as the Tchaikovsky Concerto, because the violin is the most glorious instrument there is, and nothing can beat a concerto as amazing as the Tchaikovsky. (Incidentally, if you go to his website using the link above, the music that plays is the Tchaikovsky, because it's the most recent thing he's recorded.)

Monday, March 27, 2006


I am breathing a sigh of relief, because my senior recital is officially postponed until Monday, April 17 at 8:00 pm. I'm so glad for the extra time to recover from my arm injury and to prepare more adequately. Best of all, my family is still going to be able to come! They were able to change their flights today.

Last night I went to the junior recital of Bethany Perkins; she was terrific. She sang some lovely Mozart ('Come scoglio inmoto cesta' from Cosi fan tutte), a beautiful French piece by Charpentier, the hilarious Appalachian Liebeslieder by Liebermann ("Nein, puppy! Don't eat that!"), a Scarlatti cantata, and more. I was very impressed by the entire program, including her encore - a duet with her mother, who has a beautiful voice as well.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Mendelssohn Concerto in E Minor

Excerpts from a hilarious thread from

BC: Hi, I was wondering if anyone had any advice on performing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E Minor, blah blah blah, I might play it for a competition.

JH: Just remember to start it in 1st position, NOT 2nd.

BC: wait! start in first position? My teacher has always taught it in starting in 2nd position. What's wrong with starting in second?

SB: I start in 4th position (1st finger). That way you don't have to shift up to the e.

AS: Start it on the d-string.

EW: Starting on the d string? I think I'll have try that. Brilliant idea!

AR: I'm not convinced about starting it in 4th position. the G on the A string would be of a different colour than every other note in the opening theme, and it might stick out. I start it in 2nd. It's easier to get an immediate rich vibrato than with 4th finger, and also makes the following shift to the E more managable.

NT: Guys, you're all wimps. TRUE violinists start it on the G-string.

PV: AS...I hear what you're saying, but I prefer my method of doing the entire opening in artifical harmonics.

NT: Ah, But do you play the last movement entirely in upbow staccato...?

PV: Nope... down bows only.

JH: Play the first 3 notes like the bit in "Dance of the Goblins" on E, A and D string then a harmonic G.

LB: LOL JH! That's a good one! And let's not forget in the final movement to liberally add left-hand pizzicato in those up-bow standing spiccato notes!! At least every second note needs to be plucked! And the octaves on the first page must be fingered, otherwise you're just a sissy! :)

PH: Oh and I play the opening entirely in octaves followed by thirds (harmonizing) and followed by tenths!

SB: Greetings. You guys use fingers to play the octaves? Pathetic.

AF: I usually play those octaves as "toed octaves."


OL: i just think about it, and it starts making sound.

NT: I AM the octaves.

Friday, March 24, 2006


Thanks for the comments, Emily and Rebecca. I gave my arm a week's rest (for the most part), and this week it's been feeling a lot better. I've started practicing again, in small doses at a time. The senior recital is still up in the air.

Last weekend I got to play in Symphony Hall. The Massachusetts All-State festival was held there, and the all-state choir had one piece with a solo violin part - I got asked to play it, and who would turn down a chance to play in Symphony Hall? So that was fun.

Kate has been accepted as an assistant teacher in Austria for the coming year... so she has at least one potential plan, while I still have pretty much none. Starbucks offers good benefits, including health, dental, and vision insurance - and you only have to work 20 hours a week to qualify for a benefits package. That's sounding somewhat tempting along about now.

My two violin students quit, which was rather discouraging for me. Even though these students were absolutely horrible, never practiced, didn't focus, and didn't respect my time, I feel like a failure as a teacher to have them stop taking lessons. Plus, I really needed the money. Boo.

I went to the gym every day this week. Yeah, I'm amazing.

Time to practice Prokofiev!

Friday, March 17, 2006

"Google It"


My senior recital is in 2 weeks and 3 days.

For the past week, give or take a few days, I have been experiencing pain through my underarm, wrist, and fingers. My fingers feel alternately numb or in discomfort and pain. It seems to be focused around the third and fourth fingers (ring and pinky). The pain is aggravated by playing my violin, typing, writing, etc. Sometimes it seems to be doing better, and other times it makes me crawl in bed wanting to cry. Either way, it's very hard not to worry and stress, with my recital coming up so soon. I was stressed about my recital even before this problem arose, but stressed in an "I can practice as much as I want to and be ready for this" kind of way, not in a "Things are totally outside of my control and all I can do it rest and see how things feel in the next few days" way.

I saw a doctor here at the student health center, and he told me - you won't believe it - to "Google it." Yes, really. He had no help or advice to offer beyond that.

I would be so sad if I couldn't play my recital - especially since my parents and little brother have already bought their plane tickets to come!

I have a lesson in an hour. I'm going to talk to my teacher and see what he thinks I should do.

In addition to my approaching recital, I am supposed to play in a concert in Symphony Hall tomorrow. Fortunately, the music isn't fast or very difficult, but I'd like to be pain-free and be able to play it well.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Hansel of the Night

You have all got to check this out.

I mean it... it's not to be missed. Roommate and I have been alternately marveling and laughing at the whole thing. It's truly an amazing feat. Of course, it's not perfect, and the pianist plays a (funny!) obvious wrong chord, but I must say... he gives many Queens I've heard a run for their money.

FavoriteBoy sent me the link in an email, so props to him and to whomever he got it from before that (I think it was his dad). The email was titled "Hansel of the Night," which might be the funniest part of all.

As far as I can tell, his name is Robin Schlotz and he's performing in a concert with the Toelzer Knabenchor of Germany...? Of course, that's just information I gleaned from various internet sites, so it may or may not be accurate.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Week in Review

Practiced 31 hours this week.

Earned over $250 by babysitting, teaching lessons, etc.

Now Spring break is over... so sad.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

First Conversation

Oddly enough, FavoriteBoy and I realized that today marks 2 years since our first conversation. We were reminiscing about how the first time we talked was on AIM over Spring break two years ago... and then he found that original chat in his DeadAIM logs!

Have I mentioned that technically, we met over iTunes? Yeah. Spring break. Not very many people on campus. Not much to do. I was listening to FavoriteBoy's music over the school network, and his user name on iTunes included his screenname. I IMed him, because he had some of my violin teacher's recordings, and I was curious who he was. Of course, we're both music majors in the same department at a relatively small Christian school, but we hadn't really met or talked in person until that point. And the rest, ladies and gentlemen, is as they say... history.

Maybe we should send a testimonial to iTunes.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Levine Takes a Fall

Practiced 6 hours today.

Earned $58.00 today.

In other news, oh Jimmy! Remember how I said I heard Beethoven's 9th at the BSO and it rocked? I forgot to mention the incident of which this article speaks, but yeah... I was so totally AT that particular infamous concert! The fall occurred on bow number, oh, I don't know... 2 or 3 or 47 or something. James Levine just slipped off the podium and SPLAT. The applause died instantly and there was a collective gasp throughout Symphony Hall as everyone waited in silence. When he got up again, the place burst into applause again. Then, he did a little jig - kicked both his feet out to the sides with a silly look on his face - and bowed again. Apparently he wasn't as injury-free as the jig indicated. Poor Jimmy.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006


Tonight I earned $35.00 for sitting in a lovely home in Manchester between the hours of 7 and 10, watching Gilmore Girls and reading a picture-filled gourmet cookbook. Oh, baby. Yes... I heart baby Martha and her friendly, generous parents.

Monday, March 6, 2006

Spring Break and Choir Tour

Got back from choir tour Sunday evening. Tour was okay - home stays with Taryn, Krista, Lindsey, and Cara, nice host families, naps on the bus, concerts in Steve's church and Katie's church. All in all, though, I'm really not the type of person who thrives on choir tour time. I know some people love it and consider it the best part of choir, but me, I guess I'm too much of an introvert. At the end of the day, I like to be in my own room, in my own bed. Home stays for me are very awkward things. No matter how nice the family, it always has an uncomfortable edge to it - sleeping in someone's bed, using someone's shower, having "nice-to-meet-you-thanks-for-letting-me-stay-in-your-house-okay-bye-I'll-never-see-you-again" kinds of conversations. I mean really... that's weird. So, by night #2 of choir tour, I was feeling sore-throaty and icky and crying in a corner and wishing I could go home. Yeah, I'm a big baby.

But now I am back on campus for the remainder of Spring break, and I'm loving it. Spring break for me this year is Bach Boot Camp. Yeah, because I have my senior recital on April 2, and I have to learn and memorize this Bach sonata and know it like the back of my hand, and so far I'm not really as far along in the process as I'd like to be. So FavoriteBoy is helping me, and I'm going to try to practice 5 hours a day this week. Bach is cool. Bach is hard. Whoah, Bach.

Even with the practicing, this break feels very laid back to me. I'm enjoying it. Time to watch a few movies with Nathan, time to walk around hand in hand, time to read, time to organize, time to laugh a lot, time to just be.

Soon it'll be back to brick library walls, notebook paper, Cicero, rehearsals, and the kind of practicing that feels busy and stressed rather than relaxed and totally productive. Sigh.

I like school a lot, and I know I'll miss it after I graduate in May. At the same time, it would be nice if someday my life had a pace that didn't feel so stressful. I wonder if that's just idealism, or if it's possible. I like accomplishing things, but I also like having time to just think and be, and enjoy myself and others and God.

What is my life going to look like? Why am I here? What am I doing? Where will I end up?

Toward the end of choir tour, during our Saturday night concert, I suddenly got all choked up as we sang our traditional College Choir song, "Here I Am, Lord." Why? Well, it's filled with memories, for one thing. But it also struck me that there is a difference between how I felt when I sang that song during our concerts last year, and how it is for me now. Last year I still had the idealism that I wanted to do something big with my life. God was calling me to some area of the culture, He had some big message and plan for me, and I was so willing and eager to accomplish it all. This year, I feel discouraged and weary. I'm not doing anything with my life. If God's calling me to something, I haven't gotten the message yet. I'll keep teaching my violin and piano students, and hopefully get a few more. I'll keep babysitting. Maybe I'll need to get a 9-5 job for stability, or maybe I'll pull through on teaching and gigging. I'll try to stay in the area nearby. I'm not one of the success stories. I'm not going to grad school. I don't know what I'm going to be doing. That's a little scary. So I sang "Here I Am, Lord," and I felt a little bit loserly... "Here I am, Lord, sitting around like a potted plant. But boy, I sure can teach kids to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and I sure can change diapers."

On the bright side, I'm enjoying the prospect of perhaps having a slower-paced life for a while.

Friday, March 3, 2006

Sarah Marie the Traveler

Roommate, FavoriteBoy, and myself are about to board a bus along with the rest of College Choir. We're heading up to Rhode Island for the weekend for a brief tour. In honor of the traveling about to take place, here is a map of all the states I've visited:

create your own personalized map of the USA

Thursday, March 2, 2006


Last night Nathan, Kate, Michael, and myself went to the BSO to hear... Beethoven's 9th! It was pretty fantastic. We were joined there by many other friends, including Sarah and Holly, with Katharine and Corey, Jo and Dave, and others scattered throughout Symphony Hall as well. It was a fun time. Aside from Kate being occasionally uninpressed with the horns, and me being picky and feeling somewhat disappointed by a few of the soloists, the whole performance was amazing. The last movement had me on the edge of my seat. My teacher was there, and told us afterward that we'd probably never hear a better performance of it... I guess I'll take his word for it! I'm so glad we got to hear it. My favorites were probably the beginning of the first movement and the second "Freude, schoner Gotterfunken, Tochter aus Elysium" chorus. Oh, and "Ihr sturzt nieder, Millionen? Ahnest du den Schopfer, Welt? Such ihn uberm Sternenzelt! Uber Sternen muss er wohnen." ("Do you fall headlong, ye Millions? Have you any sense of the Creator, World? Seek him above the canopy of the stars! Surely he dwells beyond the stars.") Okay, and actually, the whole first movement. And the whole second movement. And oh, the third movement was gorgeous. And the fourth movement... fantastic.

The choir sounded sweet. The orchestra was, of course, amazing. One of my favorite things about going to the Symphony is watching the bow arms of all the first violinists - particularly when they do snappy dotted rhythms. Oh, man. That's like a musical high, right there. The whole section is just fantastic with their bow distribution. You can see how effective it is when you watch and hear their crescendi, too. Everything is measured out with such precision, and the end result is, well, sounding like the BSO. Amazing like whoah.

Why can't I be good?