Tags: viola

belong here

holding hands with my inner child

Would you like to know why I almost didn't go to Stanford? Because during my time there, the Stanford Museum was closed for renovation. Due to a nasty earthquake, the whole thing save for the Rodin Sculpture Garden was closed to the public for a decade.

No, really. I always had visions of me, in college, studying in the museum. Because I inordinately love museums. But my sense of logic and rationality prevailed. Well. And the weather....and the campus.....mmmmm. But still. I missed having a museum. (As enkeli can attest...I dragged her out to the Sculpture Garden and the Mausoleum on a regular basis to get my art fix.)

Well, it's not too late to fix some things. I bought a year membership to the Portland Art Museum today. It was very affordable, and now I can bang around in there for hours every day, if I so desire. I can hardly wait to drag a book down to the Native American collection and plunk myself down on a bench in front of the spirit masks and read all about Islamic history. Today I was running a bit behind, so I grabbed my Kroeber and read in the cafe over a very civilized and tasty lunch. The cafe is in the gift shop, those bastards, so I ended up picking up a book that is a copy of Frida Kahlo's journal with an in-depth commentary and translation. I have the feeling this will help me get through the novel, and I love Frida, so I am happy about it.

I only had an hour after that, so I headed to the Rembrandt exhibit. Me and all the retirees who have no better way to spend their afternoon. I have to admit, that even when the objects of a still-life are carefully chosen to represent a deeper theme (and apparently the Dutch were insanely focused on mortality), it's still a still-life. Which, while infinitely more to my taste than modern art, still makes for only moderately-engaging pieces in my book. I can, however, deeply appreciate the fine techniques and amazing skill of the artists. I only made it through half the exhibit, because I needed to get to my viola lesson. I have religious pieces and portraits to go through when I go back, so maybe I will find that more interesting with all this recent study of Gnosticism.

The interesting thing about playing the viola so far has been getting the physiology correct. I have my first scale down, and can pluck my way through basic songs. I haven't graduated to bowing yet, but my teacher is fairly excited about my progress so far, and complimented my ear. I never in my life realized that playing the viola is a serious workout! Playing the french horn is not easy, but it is not physically demanding. You sit with the instrument, prop it on your leg, and press buttons. There is a lot of breath work and fine muscle control in the lips, but the worst you feel is a slight backache from the forced erect posture. The viola requires such a range of hand and arm motion that I have exercises to strengthen certain finger and arm muscles, and to stretch those muscles to accommodate the range of the instrument. I am damp with sweat at the end of a half hour lesson. I love that, that creating music with the viola is such a physical expression. My tai chi training is serving me very well; my teacher mentioned that she has an easier time teaching the basics to trained dancers, who are used to being shifted and have a good sense of kinetics. I am very used to these things, and she is very happy with most of my body work so far, and we have keyed in on a few specific issues that I am to work on ironing out over the week.

It was a very, very good day. I am exhausted now, in a sweetly content way.
are you the key?

show and tell

Today has been a fabulous day--even though it started out rainy and never graduated to anything better than overcast. My morning meditation session went much better today, after talking to Travis (who teaches a meditation class!) and understanding what the state of mind I am supposed to be entering truly is.

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Emboldened by my tai chi somehow, the rest of the day was busy and productive, not in a task maangement type way, but in a very fulfilling way. I got two hours of writing done, I studied for a bit, and I finally called the number I have been saving since March and have set myself to begin viola lessons! (Yes, Paul, you win. After 12 years playing the french horn, I have decided that indeed, I simply do not have enough brass to match the instrument. ;)) Tomorrow I am headed to pick up a rental viola, and the first lesson is a week from Tuesday. The instructor only has two time slots left on her schedule after she picked up me, so I take this as a very good sign as to her proficiency. Also, she helped me suss out what size instrument to rent (I didn't know they came in sizes) and reminded me to buy a shoulder rest while I was there. She operates out of a branch of the Portland Music Company which is primarily a sheet music store, so all the beginning materials I will need will be available and set up for me when I show up for my first lesson. I am very excited about this!

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Finally, I plowed my way through some more of The Forerunners of Christianity. The interesting quote from today's study was this:

"But the founders of the cult [of the Alexandrian divinities] must have always borne in mind that while in every religion there are a few devotees who are prepared to go all lengths in theology or inquiry into the nature of their gods, the majority are attracted to it more from a vague desire to enter into amicable relations with the spiritual world than from any other feeling."

Hmm...

In any case, I am now done with the chapter on the Alexandrian divinities and get to move next into the origins of gnosticism, which I am very much looking forward to.

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So that was my day. And now I am off to relax and kill many imaginary monsters in World of Warcraft.