What will be your first scale of the new year? Do you ever feel that practicing scales becomes a bit stale after falling into a comfortable routine? I have to confess – some days I substitute my routine in favor of other kinds of exercises in order to feel fresh and engaged during the warm-up.
Some time ago, I was studying a chamber music piece from the Classical era in which the violin part had a section filled with embellishments – chromatic turns outlining descending arpeggios, to be specific. These ornaments caused me to stumble, and more than a few times. I was frustrated that a fairly “straight-forward” movement suddenly became very challenging. Any amount of routine scale practice (Galamian, Flesch, or Heifetz) wouldn’t have prepared me for this kind of passage. Instead of looking for an appropriate etude, I decided to come up with some new scale exercises.
What a whirlwind of a year this has been! I always wanted to start a blog but never expected to be writing my first post during the last week of 2020. It’s certainly felt like a “trial” year of sorts (a most historic one!) and of course the global situation can’t magically resolve at midnight on January 1st. My heart goes out to those who lost somebody in their lives to the pandemic and my gratitude goes to frontline workers – doctors, nurses, scientists, teachers, the guy at the bodega around the corner, and many, many others.
With everything going on around us, many of us musicians (and other artists) might be feeling like we are sitting on the sidelines during this time – like we aren’t very helpful to the situation. Sometimes I also go through periods when I feel useless and that I can’t help anybody. The truth is, what we do is more important than we can imagine. We help more people than we know – and most people probably don’t realize just how big of an impact music is to them (at least not on a conscious level). Music is a universal language that brings people life, unity, and helps to heal.
Whatever role music has in your life, I hope that going into the New Year, we can take the lessons and experiences from this past year, regroup, and help 2021 be a better year through hope, hard work, resilience, and love.
What are your biggest takeaways from 2020 and what are some of your plans going forward?