by Paula E. Bird
One of my favorite students, Benjamin, is ten years old. He has played the violin for 3.5 years and studied with me for three of those years.
Benjamin saw you in concert for his 8th birthday. Since that day, he has talked about you quite a bit. He likes to mimic what he recalls of your physical movements when you play, adding appropriate gestures that fit the musical expression of the phrasing. Having heard and watched you play many times myself as part of the symphony orchestra that accompanies you, I enjoy watching Benjamin work so hard to emulate you.
I have a problem helping Benjamin understand the importance of driving at a speed limit that is appropriate for the road conditions. For Benjamin, every day is a sunny day and every road a straight, curve less ribbon: 100 mph, full speed ahead, enjoy the wind in your hair sort of affair.
What helpful words might you suggest to help little Benjamin understand when it is appropriate to slow down and let the ears really hear what the fingers and bow are playing? How can Benjamin learn how to pick the right speed?
I know you are a busy performer. Benjamin is one of many of my students who has been touched by the music making gifts you have shared with the world. It would greatly help me if you were to offer Benjamin some helpful advice about this tricky subject. I would really appreciate it.
PS: Benjamin has not enjoyed learning the Bb scale. Until recently he has been quite depressed by the sound of the key. He has persevered, however, and I have as well concerning the appropriate speed to learn the new scale. Now Benjamin finds that he can make this scale sound pretty good. I am sure you would be proud to hear him play it.
PSS: Does anyone know how I can send this letter to Joshua Bell? Email me if you do.