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Why I Took Four Violin Lessons and then Quit

I'm not enough of a productivity champion that I can work for 14 hours straight with no breaks at all. Sometimes I"ll find myself pressed up against some extra tricky problem, and even after taking shots at it from various angles, I can't quite push through. In times like those, it helps to take a break for a few minutes, and then try again.

Old habits die hard. I used to be obsessed with getting deals on stuff. I still am a little bit. One of the best resources for deals is Fatwallet.com, which I still check once every three or four months, down from several times a day. The last time I checked, four months ago or so, I saw a violin for $50. Shipped. Including a bow, extra strings, rosin, and a case.

I bought it, thinking that if I loved playing the violin, I could give that one away and buy a good one, and if not, I could give it away and not buy a good one. Either way, fifty bucks to see if I was interested in playing the violin seemed like a good idea. I should also add that I had been reading a lot of Sherlock Holmes, and Sherlock plays the violin when he's thinking. I was probably influenced by that.

It turned out that I loved playing the violin. Not loved as in drop-everything-and-train-for-the-symphony, but taking a few minutes to bang out twinkle twinkle little star was a good way to relax my mind for a minute before getting back to the task at hand. As I worked, I would leave the violin sitting on my bed. Whenever I needed a break, I'd get up and play for a couple minutes.

Picking from your Past.

On Music Lessons w/Marc Plotkin

I recently took a voice lesson. I've been working on composition so much in my music work lately that I've let a couple of performance skills atrophy a bit. Noticing this, I signed up for voice lessons to make sure my (already limited) range and technique didn't completely wither.

I've studied music quite a bit in the past, but never with someone like this. Like myself (but not for voice), this teacher studied formally in college, learning classical and operatic technique, but has come to living the Brooklyn indie-rock musical life instead. (To anyone rolling their eyes at that, it's quite a powerful combo, the stereotypical shaggy guy in a plaid shirt who can sing a perfect Aria or identify any concerto) I've always liked this idea of learning as much as you can, then picking what's relevant to apply to your situation later. I did this in the past by spending years studying jazz saxophone with some of the best players around New York City, and later applying most of the knowledge in harmonic choices as a singer-songwriter and guitarist in an indie-rock band…not an obvious use of such skills, but it really worked well!

This voice teacher, went about things a little differently. He studied formally like I did, then after school he threw out everything he learned and tried writing/performing/recording being purposely absent-minded of what he learned. He did the opposite of every technique and every rule the conservatory world preached to him.

He then had polarizing approaches to compare to make a choice for his third act. The music he's making now is his most excellent and he supposes it's due to the fact that he's now making choices based on the best of each of the prior two situations. Pulling back some of the conservatory technique, as well as using tricks he only would've learned by purposely not following the rules.

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