We are approaching four years of violin studies this fall. We just watched old videos of ViolinGirl in her first efforts. The amount of progress through our very ordinary efforts is incredible. But we still see elements of resistance crop up. I’ll call it “micro-resistance” because it’s not nearlly at the level of frustration and refusal she exhibted at first. For the first year, she would roll on the floor screaming about taking her violin out of the case. My parents, who love music and raised two musicians, were convinced we were damaging ViolinGirl’s relationship to music if not frankly torturing her. Little by little, we have come to the point where she shows none of the resistance about going into the practice room. Mostly she shows no resistance to the selection of warm-ups, scales, exercises, and review pieces that the teacher selects for her and that we schedule. But resistance does creep in when dealing with specific difficult tasks. Right now, there’s a spot in the G minor minuet in the Book 3 Bach Minuet requires more finger dexterity than she’s approached before:

Book 3 Bach minuet, minor section

Book 3 Bach minuet, minor section

This is tricky measure because the fingers must do some interesting things. The third finger should block both the D string and the A string on the first two quavers. Otherwise, the the third finger has to roll over to play the second quaver D. A little more difficult are the gymnastics of the first finger. After the F♯, the first finger has to reach behind the second finger, tucking behind it on the A string to play the C on the A string. Finally, the first finger has to end the measure, reaching back to the B♭. The tricky spot for right now is tucking the first finger behind the second but landing it on the A string. She wants to land it on the D string.

When I start with my “let’s do it 6 times, but it only counts if you do it correctly” shtick, she immediately starts to balk. She wants to get past it as fast as possible even if the fourth quaver C isn’t in tune. I’m struggling to find the right balance between being supportive of her and being demanding about accuracy. To this point in her training, her ear has sufficed to tell her when she’s playing accurately. For a long time, we haven’t had to use any kind of reward system. But this one little measure is problematic. Even the optional shifts to 3rd position are in tune and done fairly smoothly. But this measure needs some now tricks.

Written by:

Alan is the main practice partner and accompanist for a young violinist.