Aye curumba! Garage Band saves the day

I went to the state library and got out the Doflein Method Book IV. I remember at 14 or 15 feeling a bit miffed that my new teacher had me go “back to basics” when I had already achieved AMEB Grade 7 with my old teacher.  I wish someone had explained to the teenage me that these are excellent remedial books for those who haven’t been taught the correct technique.  A musician friend suggested I re-learn using Ševčík’s violin studies book and another friend suggested Suzuki, but given the reasons why I’m re-learning (purely for pleasure) I think I’ve made the right choice. Each chapter in the Doflein books target a technique and it’s scaffolded in such a way that the learner does not freak out and they also get to play a two part piece with their teacher  As I’ve probably mentioned in an earlier blog the part I loved best about playing the violin was playing with others. Not only was a less lonely activity, I loved hearing the harmonies.

Unfortunately, I live too far away from any where where I can find like-minded musicians which is okay  because at this stage of my life I can’t commit to rehearsals. I’ve got too much going on (thesis writing…thesis writing…) and can’t commit to much. I had thought about taking some lessons to improve my technique but don’t have time for that either.

So here is where Garage band comes in.

I go through my Doflein exercises and preparation and then I play the piece. I record both parts with the metronome as different tracks. I listen to the tracks and note what I need to improve on. I can still tell when I’m out of tune and what needs work, and then I try again. I’ll need to get a real teacher at some point to give me some feedback on things such as posture, hold and bowing but this is okay for now. It also means that I don’t have to find another person to play with.

I need a hobby like this so that I an take time out from life.

Here is the first two recordings I made of the same piece. I can’t believe that it is only now as a 40 year old that I know how to practice and see that there are rewards from effort. I’ve compressed these files so the quality isn’t that good but on my iMac I can hear it well enough to assess tone quality. So I can tell from these two recordings that I am not ready to play the piece at the speed I attempt the second time. I cringe as I listen to the second recording as I can hear every wrong note.

When I have time I need to see how I can on the home computer just make sure I’m playing in time with myself without having to use the metronome. I find the beat really distracting, yet because of the gear I’m using I can’t really hear and follow the other part if I don’t use the inbuilt metronome.

I think I might set an afternoon aside to record a piece once a week, even if its the same piece. That way I can track my improvement.  There is much joy derived from  practice when you can hear the improvement.

AFTER I finish this thesis I might invest more time and resources to my set up, but my crude set up will suffice for now.


More about thesis writing next time around.  Can’t talk about it. Just gotto do it.

Mid-life or mid-winter

Thank goodness for smart phones. I would get very little done without one.

I’m still in bed because the kid is playing with the rescue cat we adopted. These days cat’s must be registered and sterilised, and be kept indoors! I get the feeling that I am not far away from becoming a crone like woman who goes on about how, “in my day…” 

In my day cats knew how to dig a hole in the garden and poop in it. This cat doesn’t seem to know how to dig a hole in the kitty litter and only in a box of newspaper so I’ve had to put away our open paper recycling bin! The cat is also afraid of the outdoors?!?!!!?! We don’t live in an apartment! I’m going to train it to go out, have a play and stay within the confines of our property. 

I haven’t had time to do much other than look after my child. I will probably not have a chance to see any friends who are not parents of my son’s friends until after the holidays. 

The thesis: not happening. I sent part of it to a PhD writer friend to have a read through and the whole mess to my supervisor who knows that I won’t have time to do anything until the school holidays are over. 

The paid job: something that is rare to come by apparently and I have been told that I’m silly to give it up. Maybe I am but I won’t finish my thesis I continue.

The violin: I still need to get replacement rubbers for my shoulder rest. I haven’t had time to go to a music store. I’ll try going over the weekend. I have found someone to duet with which is something to look forward to. I need to find time to print out some music at some stage. I haven’t been at my desktop either at home or in the office in ages. I might have some time towards the end of the week or the weekend.

So the plan is to:

1) Sleep

2) Stay sane

3) find some time in the next two weeks to not be around anything child related even if it’s two hours reading a trashy novel.

4)go to a music store

5) see at least one friend who is not the mother of my child’s friend. 

6)clean freezer so there is space for home pre-cooked frozen meals. Last minute meal planning takes up too much time!

7)chill out and plan to go on a retreat after submitting thesis.

8)don’t think too far ahead. 

9)remember that the unexpected and the unknown can be good.

10)buy more bamboo stakes to construct a structure to replace some eyesore makeshift barrier that’s been in my backyard for a year. I am so sick of half finished home improvement projects. It makes me feel as if I have been suspended in time for a decade.

11)get out of bed! 🙂 

12) read a chapter of a book

Second week of school holidays 

We made it through week one!

I haven’t had enough outdoor walking time so am wide awake at midnight. It’s another busy day tomorrow. 

If my fairy godmother came to visit today I would ask her to babysit, host play dates and organise my study/pantry/shed. That is all. Then I can find time to read this book: 

People ask me why I’m so busy if I only have one child. I am not an only child but grew up as one as my sibling was a lot older than me. My parents weren’t around much and it was lonely. Sure I could keep myself occupied with daydreams and books, but I had no one to interact with or share my thoughts with other than a cat. There’s always some guilt attached to not being able to have another child.  Although Cain and Abel type stories remind me that having a sibling is not always a positive thing.

I’m so tired my thoughts make no sense. I sent a friend/peer half of my thesis. It’s the first time I’ve looked at it in 1.5 weeks. I think I’ll just have a less clogged up rain once I find some time to work on it. I’ve accepted I won’t have any time to do anything until next Monday. I will have two days then as kid has a sleepover. 

I see a psychologist every now and again, but I really can’t be bothered going to my next appointment. She doesn’t say much that helps with thesis writing anxiety. 

The only one who can do anything about it is me. I know that this involves writing. 

Or rather a space and hours to write. It needs to be my priority but right now it is not.

It has to be.

And it will be when kid goes back to school.

I am in awe of single mothers

I don’t know any single fathers. That is simone  ho has their kid 100% of the time. If I can were a full time single mother I would move in with my family or find a new partner. I’m not gay/bi  but if I couldn’t find a decent man, I’d find a woman just so I wouldn’t have to be a sole parent. How do the ones who do it do it well? 

Then again I suppose the kid would be used to it and not be crying every day about dad being away. 

I just read Euripides’ Medea. Other than the infanticide part, I think I would be like Medea if I were in that situation. Not sure I could murder my rival and her father-in-law as in dreams when I’ve murdered someone I always feel guilty and awful, but I’m sure I would be angry enough to want to.  Of course my interpretation of the play differs from the original (Ancient male Greek) audience. I actually don’t know that much about Ancient Greek theatre but was impressed by how many more female roles there are in this than say in Shakespearean plays. 

I wonder though why these tragedies are high brow just because they feature Zeus. In fact, I don’t know why some stories about family dysfunction are high-brow (e.g Greek plays/Shakespearean tragedies) and others low (e.g Telenovelas/soaps). Is it the $$ class of the main characters? Well I have my theories but I really must save it for the thesis which I will have no time to work on for another week at least.

However, I am  finding time to read because it’s something I can do when kid falls asleep. I’ve got My Sister, My Love by JCO on the bedside table. It’s inspired by the Jon Benet Ramsey case. Is that literary or popular fiction? Or cross over.

How do super-women who are the main carers manage to do so much? Do they require less sleep or will they just get  dementia before the rest of us because they don’t sleep. Or can they just multi-task better and have bigger brains? 

I might buy a lotto ticket. One Powerball and I’m hiring a person to sort out my house. I can’t move even if I won the Powerball. Can’t change schools again.

Yay kid is tired. 

Intermission (Day -67 to submission) 

(I googled this random image. If you own it and don’t want me to use it please let me know). 

I will not have time to work on my thesis until my husband returns. I might be able to squeeze in two days in the second week of the holidays but that’s about it.

Kid is doing well and there are only 22 days until hubby returns. 

I still have the rusty orchestra tunes in my head. I haven’t found time to replace the tubing on my shoulder rest. I have one useless spare shoulder rest and one missing spare one. I also need a new bow if I’m to continue playing. 

I was feeling defeated by distance as I live in lower socioeconomic outer suburbia. It’s hardly the slums but it is a fair distance from the closest community orchestra. A friend and a friend in a dream suggested I start a group. I’ve managed to find a local music teacher who is open to idea of forming a chamber trio or quartet. I don’t have a lot of time so I’m really hoping we find a local cello player. I need to practice regularly to get to the standard I was once at and feel that I can do it if I have a group to play with. I love playing so much.

At 40 I just do things that make me happy and it’s only at 40 I know what makes me happy. 

1) I like playing music with others. I could never have been a virtuoso. I love the group aspect of music and not just connecting with an audience but with fellow players. 

2) Teaching – but not anything technical and this includes teaching music and languages. I like ideas. I loved teaching this past semester because there were many philosophical discussions to be had. 

3) I like teaching older teenagers. Some give you hope that there is a future and the kid won’t grow up in a soulless, let’s just rape the earth and think of humans only as consumers dystopian world.

4)Being kid’s parent

5)Hanging with friends – Some of this through the phone as I live a fair distance from the people I love. But there’s nothing like an in person catch up.

6) meeting new people with similar interests.

I realise now that I’ve never found a “thing” because most of the things I love have no status in our society (teaching/motherhood/arts). Moreover, I lacked self-confidence. I have no idea why I did. As an older person I want to shake my teenage self and say, wake up you silly girl! Look at all that you have! Of course, I would also give her some antibiotics to clear up her skin and arrange more meetings with her clueless teachers. 

I guess I get to do for my kid what my parents were unable to do for me. In that sense I feel like I’ve done well in life. 

I don’t have a seemingly endless road ahead of me. I am beginning to look middle-aged – no injectables for me! 

Things I will do in the next three months:

1) complete thesis

2) adopt a stray cat

3) start a local music group 

4) be a present (in body and mind) mother

5) plan a “I turned 40 last year” party – maybe. I’m terrible with parties. I have a fear that no one will show up. A hang up from going to school with mean girls. 

Many of my friends have taken this long  to get over the trauma of school. I think that’s why we worry about sending them to the wrong school or not being able to move to a better school zone etc… 

Done, dusted and deaf

Title sums it up.

I tried using ear plugs but they were too effective and I couldn’t hear much with them on.

I am tired.

It was so much fun and I managed to convince people that I played all the notes.

I think I know why I’m partially deaf. My head is ringing. I really should have worn some foam ear plugs.

Will I do it again? Maybe. Maybe not.

I am worried about my hearing. It’s cut out in some of the bass registers.

As for the answer to the question could I have been a professional player? Probably not.