Some time back, about a year ago, I showed up for a recording session late. Well, not late technically, it was about 5 minutes before start time. Yet late in the sense of getting situated, looking through the ‘book’ and warming up.
As I hurredly unpacked, my stand partner used his bow to point about halfway down the page of the first cue, “You’ve got a solo on this one,” he said. Of course my eyes found it immediately and, almost simultaneously, butterflies began fluttering in my tummy.
I’m sure you know how fast that can happen.
And the butterflies had taken flight for good reason, the darned thing was high, exposed, and called for some major shifts around the fingerboard. Fine motor control was going to be essential.
Mind you, my hands felt cold and stiff. The prospect of imminent embarrassment loomed large in my imagination!
Yet rather than ‘go right at it,’ as I might have done in earlier years, I did something else. I got up from my chair, violin in hand, walked to the back of the room and began shaking.
Yep, violin under chin, bow on string in the upper half, I shook; both hands.
At first the movements felt and must’ve sounded pretty desperate, like someone so nervous they couldn’t keep the bow on the string. Yet after half a minute the shaking of my bow settled into a measured rhythm, one I was consciously breathing into existence.
Very quickly the same tempo was taken up by my left hand and the shaking became coherent across my body. Each oscillation of vibrato corredsponding to a down-up cycle of tremolo.
It began feeling good!
Up to this point the bow had been held in one spot, a measured tremolo with a measured vibrato. Now I began to draw it; eight shakes up bow, eight shakes down bow. I crossed strings to a new note and did the same thing, and then again. An arpeggio was emerging; eight shakes per note, moving across strings, up and down positions. I went to 6 shakes per note; then 4, 3, 2…
Would you believe, within 3 minutes I was rocking through a three octave C major arpeggio, one shake per note, eight shakes per bow with both hands absolutely in concert? – yes, pun intended!
I returned to my chair with a good minute to spare. My hands felt alive and my nerves had morphed into a quiet sense of anticipation.
And then we started with a different cue…
All the best,
P.S. Yes, that really did happen. Yet it also demonstrated to me that I was really on to something with this shaking practice. Have you tried it today?
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