Thursday, March 8, 2012

What We're Practicing Today

We're enjoying a two week break from the boys' Suzuki violin lessons for spring break.  Its not that we don't love our lessons, but the break has certainly been a nice change of pace and I realized today that we're playing a really interesting mix of music right now.

Gus has written chords and melody for a couple of old, old, songs.  He wasn't gentle to his new-chord phobic parents, so we're getting much better at our B minor and F chords.  He picked out two songs:  Harry Bell, a lovely little tune about a guy falling into the saw at a sawmill, and Soldier's Poor Little Boy, about a boy freezing to death in the snow.  Surprisingly they have become some of our favorite family band songs, which is crazy because last week they didn't seem like songs at all, just words on a page.  Gus plays banjo on Harry Bell and has worked up a great solo.  We also played through some of our "old standards" tonight: Country Roads, Brown Eyed Girl, Long Black Veil, Nelly Was a Lady...

Huck has worked so hard on the Bach Minuets in Suzuki Book 1 and he has mastered them!  He wouldn't hear of shelving them for a week so he's played them every day.  He's also putting a lot of effort into getting ready for St. Patrick's Day.  He's learned Swallowtail Jig and Road to Lisdoonvarna and is really hoping that Gus will call him up on stage St. Patrick's Day so he can show them off.

Gus is getting ready for his Suzuki Book 3 graduation but was happy to shelve the Bach Bourree for a week.  He took it out today, shook out the wrinkles, and played it with some enthusiasm that it had gotten lost in all the polishing.  He's also getting Jay Unger's Lover's Waltz ready.  He's always followed his graduation piece with a fast and crazy fiddle tune (Orange Blossom Special last time) so he's going to surprise everyone with a slow pretty one this time.  Gus is working on another project that requires him to solo in the key of B flat.  To get used to the key, we pored over the Fiddler's Fake Book looking for fiddle tunes in that key.  There are precious few.  So we settled on Done Gone, which he hated for a day or two but now its his new favorite song.   If only I found this web page sooner, a whole slew of B flat songs.  He's still enjoying working on Elzic's Farewell, and I still can't keep up with the chords on that one.  And he's brushing up on all his Celtic stuff for St. Patty's Day, particularly the Old Hag set.  And then there's the Seitz in Suzuki Book 4, about as close as Suzuki gets to a hokum bow...

I've been working on these crazy mandolin calisthenics called FFcP and man do they hurt.  They're working though.  My pinky is a much more cooperative part of my hand and I can move the whole exercise to any crazy key that I would've said that I couldn't play in just by following that patterns.  And the chop chords, I'm always working on those.
I'm trying to keep up with my 6 yr old on the jigs, but I think he's passed me up.  I better watch out or the cat might too if I spend too much time blogging when I should be practicing.

That's not all we do on a beautiful March day.  After we practice we go out to play.

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