This Week’s Episode: Music and Melting

The weather this week. Has been. So. Hot. It’s actually ridiculous.

I was really enjoying the lovely unusual cold-when-it’s-not-supposed-to-be weather we were having in my area until this entire thing came along and decided to dry up all the rain on my parade (rain that I enjoyed, thank you very much).

I’m most definitely a chilly kind of person. I enjoy those cloudy gray skies, cold, brisk air, and slight drizzle of rain throughout the day. Those kinds of days make me very happy (plus, they put me in even more of a mood to curl up with chocolate and read/write).

And don’t even get me started on how basically 99.99% of my entire wardrobe contains winter clothing. It’s all jeans and long-sleeves and hoodies accompanied by about fifty billion beanies and scarves.

So when days like the ones of the past week roll around, I really just have no idea what to do with myself.

All I have to say to the weather is this:

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When I haven’t been melting into a puddle because of this ridiculous heat, I’ve been practicing violin. There’s this competition thing happening tomorrow that I’m practicing for along with a group, and so much intense music work made me think about how big of a role music actually plays in my life.

I started learning violin when I was about four or five (I’m pretty sure at least… you gotta ask my mom to be certain). I can very clearly remember thinking that being able to play an instrument was the coolest thing ever (not to say I don’t now), and then later that week I saw an advertisement for violin lessons somewhere. By then, I was set on one goal- I was going to learn to play violin.

First was a matter of convincing my parents. To my little munchkin mind, this was a bit surprising, but I decided to just roll with it. They said learning an instrument was a great idea, and that it’d definitely help me in the long run.

I wasn’t sure what they meant by that, but like I said, I rolled with it.

Next was the task of finding a teacher. I left all that to my parents, considering the fact that I was in kindergarten (or was it first grade? I really can’t remember this far back…). It was two weeks later that they told me we were going to go visit my teacher in her house to see if lessons would work out.

Okay, it’s probably time to give a bit of key information that might change your perspective on this a bit; see, the first instrument I picked up and played was a violin, but the style of music I was learning to play is not the Western classical music you might be thinking of (i.e. Bach, Sibelius, Vivaldi). I was (and still am) learning Carnatic music, which is, in a nutshell, South Indian classical music.

My teacher doesn’t teach with sheet music. Everything we learn is on-the-spot, taught completely by ear. We learn by watching, listening, repeating, and coming to understand why we play things in a certain way rather than another.

This resulted in me developing a pretty decent ear for music. After about a year or so of learning, I was at a point where I could hear a song and imitate it rather closely on my violin. I started doing this all the time, and when my mom purchased a simple plastic keyboard from Target, I messed around a lot with that as well.

I didn’t even look at any sheet music until about two years ago, when I took up Western classical violin lessons alongside my Carnatic music. I’m still rather terrible at sight reading, but learning a different style of music that covers a lot of sound-quality techniques has helped me improve my overall playing. I’ve found that though both kinds of music are very different, the technical aspects are heavily reflected in both of them.

The nearly-nine years of music in my life have opened my eyes a lot. Learning Carnatic music is a way that I keep connected to my own culture and heritage, as well as a creative outlet. I’ve discovered a lot more than just the simple notes of the music, and I’ve realized that everything tough requires some hard work (yes, it’s annoying sometimes, but it’s worth it in the end).

Keep moving forward, nerdlings. Try to learn something new every day!

I’m off to go melt into a puddle of watery sweaty doom now.

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