Books, Thoughts

A Few Little Updates

On the “Current Work” page, I’ve added a link to my newest review on J.D. Salinger: A Life.  Enjoy!

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One of the next books I’m reading for review is Morning, Noon, Night by Arnold Weinstein.  I have high hopes for this one.  The author is a lit professor who writes about studying literature as a means to find deeper meaning in one’s own life.  (Basically a validation for any English majors out there, ha ha!)  From what I can tell, Weinstein has taken years worth of his syllabi & expanded on the ideas he’s been exploring with students.  Think a more technical version of Reading Lolita in Tehran.

I’ve only gotten past the introduction & I feel slightly frustrated because some of the ground he’s covering is familiar.  Then, I have to stop myself & think, “Ok, I’m not the only person in his audience, there are other people he’s trying to reach.  Let it go.”  Also, nearly every chapter deals with a work by Faulkner.  Faulkner-tastic, I say.

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As I’ve talked about before, the more I learn my fiddle, the more hybrid my method of learning becomes.  I’ve retaught myself to read music, but my teacher emphasizes learning by ear.  So when I process a piece of sheet music, I can look at a note & my fingers know where to go, but my brain thinks of it as “Open,” “1,” “2,” or “3.”  Not D-E-F sharp-G.  Sometimes this works & sometimes there are gaps.  Right now, I’m learning a version of “Puncheon Floor,” a reel.  I know it; I can sing the damn thing.  I hum it to myself as I walk, because it’s written at that pace & because Steve says that connecting the two activities reinforces the connection between music & bodies.

But, I’ll sit down to play it & the higher sections elude me.  I get to the phrase & an image of the sheet music flashes into my head.  Suddenly, I think, “Oh no, what are those notes again?” & my fingers fail.  I think that’s the trick to dance songs.  If you think about it, you lose it because you’ve stopped listening to it.  But, fortunately, practice makes perfect & my teacher is much more forgiving than myself.

“You’ll have a life-long relationship with this,” he said, holding up his fiddle.  “It’ll take time, but if you work at it, it’ll be worth it.”  That might sound cheesy, but it was exactly what I needed to hear.

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