Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How to learn the violin

I should take this moment to point you towards an irreverently-toned (if that's the best way to put it) blog about music wherein the authors are actually updating it with some regularity. Enter vaughnvsviolin, a blog chronicling one man's no-holds-barred octagon-style battle against the violin, which he is learning to play as an adult student. But not just learning to play- his self-imposed challenge is to learn the Paganini 24th Caprice in a year. I have some comments on this. Did you notice that I made an an ultimate fighting championship reference though? That's awesome.

Now, I'm not sure if this is possible. My hunch is it depends on just how you define "play." But if the name of the game is speed and you focus on one piece, it does raise some interesting questions. Like, for instance, should he bother to learn to read music? He addresses this question in a recent post. Well, Pavarotti couldn't read music either. And once he does this for a year and achieves his goal, are he and violin through forever? Can he just walk away? If the main point of learning the violin is to write a blog about it, it changes some things. This is interesting.

Oh did I mention that he's married to a world-class violinist? This is great material here, folks. Somebody should write a book about it.

Sometimes it seems these days that the best way to get a nonfiction book deal is to propose trying to do something absurd for one year. This is a sure fire way to get covered on NPR's All Things Considered (the other method is to write a piece about the impending arrival of the alien super-bionic Mothership for the youTube symphony orchestra). It seems everywhere I turn authors are volunteering to go vegan for a year, eat only at McDonalds for a year, eat only locally grown food for a year (things involving eating are very popular), produce no trash for a year, wear no shoes for a year, use no electricity for a year, go on no dates for a year, go on a date every day with a different person for a year, be fat for a year, etc. Inevitably, these authors, who start out looking to make an idealist point about the ecological impoverishment of modern life, end up learning an important and touching lesson about themselves!! Oh, authors!

At least Ryan has decided to do something practical. But really, it's the journey that counts. How could it not be a good idea?