Monday, November 02, 2009

Musical Monday

Something I realized last night was that I have not spent much time on this blog talking about music. I thought I might remedy that oversight starting now!

I am a music afficionado. In fact, it's entirely possible that music, rather than blood, courses through my veins. (Although the mosquitoes do like me an awful lot, so maybe not!)

As a toddler, I was somewhat challenging and emotionally intense, but a surefire way to make me content was to put some headphones on me and play some music. I'd just sit there and listen for hours, which, as a mother, I now find pretty amazing, because there's no way I could get Vinny to sit still that long.

I loved music so much that my mom signed me up for violin lessons when I was 3 going on 4. I studied Suzuki violin through elementary and junior high school, and continued to take violin lessons in high school. I also played in the youth orchestra from the time I was in 6th grade.

In college, I took almost enough courses to get a music minor, and I played in the community orchestra, which I really loved. But at that point, the years of abuse to my arm was beginning to catch up with me.

In grad school, I found a community orchestra and played with them for about one semester, but it wasn't as fun as my former orchestra, and I got busy, and ended up not going back. I played less and less often, which was probably for the better, because my left arm kept getting worse. I had my first ulnar nerve entrapment problem after a particularly long essay exam (yes, even computer scientists can have essay tests; this was the final in a parallel computing class!), and then I continued to have more arm problems, until a particularly long but exciting derivation left me in severe and permanent pain.

But luckily, playing is not the only form of musical expression I had at my disposal. My arms may not work the way I want them to, but I still have my ears! So throughout the years, I've listened to a lot of music.

In college, I bought a fair number of CDs, but when I became a poor graduate student, I was able to borrow a lot of music from the library. This allowed me to broaden my musical horizons without risk.

Classical music is my favorite genre, although I don't like most of the things that your everyday person thinks define the genre, such as Baroque music (e.g., Pachelbell's canon, The Four Seasons, etc.) and Mozart. No, I am a big fan of early 20th century symphonic music, Russian romantic era symphonies, and medieval and renaissance music. There are other pieces I enjoy that don't fall into those categories, but by and large, those are my favorites.

But, I also enjoy a lot of other music. In particular, as a failed liberal elite, I listen to the oldies radio station instead of NPR when I'm driving to and from work. (I hate listening to the news, and when they're not playing the news, NPR plays too much of the aforementioned Baroque and Mozart.) I enjoy a lot of songs from the 1960s and 70s, so it's a good station for me to listen to.

I also enjoy a lot of world music, including authentic folk songs and fusion music that combines traditional ethnic elements with Western musical sensibilities. I always like hearing something new that pushes the boundaries of what I'm accustomed to.

I was thinking I'd start a series of indeterminate length to share with you some music that I like, as well as the reasons I like it. I plan to start with some songs that are probably more familiar (e.g., from the oldies station) and work my way towards obscurity. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!


PhizzleDizzle said...

Pachelbel's Canon drives me crazy!!! I'm so over that piece. :)

Mona said...

Do left handed violin players ever play their instruments the other way to avoid overuse? I mean, I'd imagine it would put a cap on the quality of instrument you could have. Or do you think that this kind of injury isn't more likely among left handers, it was just poor luck in your case and that if you bowed with your left arm it would still have been injured?

Sorry, just curious.

Rebecca said...

PhizzleDizzle, I totally agree with you. If I never heard it again, I'd live a complete and happy life.

Mona, I think my situation is a result of bad genes and bad luck. I just abused the same arm in two different ways, which is why it got so injured. But also, I think I inherited a weakness that made me susceptible to this injury. One of my sisters is exhibiting signs of ulnar nerve entrapment too, although 15-20 years later than I did since she's a righty and didn't doubly abuse one of her arms. Also, she played the cello, but not as seriously as I played violin.

I don't know of any violinists who bow with their left and finger with their right. I don't think I'd be able to do it that way if I were to try. I'm so conditioned to do it in this way that it would just be too hard to switch.