Monday, April 9, 2012

Two Good Experiences

Back in April 4, '09 I wrote about the combined Good Friday service that was celebrated here in our small town.  It was a polished, multi-media production hosted by the Victory Church.  I had one reservation about that service: it seemed far too triumphant for a Good Friday service.  I quoted from a hymn written in the 1600's, Ah Holy Jesus, how hast thou offended....

This past Friday we gathered again in the Town School Gym for our Good Friday service.  This was entirely different.  The very small Anglican church had organized this service.  They have a fine sense of liturgy, and that showed.  It was a Tenebrae Service--a service of shadows.  There were seven sections of shadows: of Betrayal, of Denial, of Aloneness, of Accusation, of Suffering, of Crucifixion and of Death.  The final section of the service was titled "After the Shadows" and quoted Revelation 5:6-12, the Lamb, looking as if it had been slain...  And finished the quote, "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!" Amen.

I cannot read those words without hearing the chorus from The Messiah, one of the greatest pieces of music ever written.

Each section of the service began with scripture reading, which was followed by a "reflection" and concluded with music.  The first section was graced with a harp solo, "Into Jerusalem Jesus Rode."  So effective!  Other sections featured the small choir and congregation singing a Good Friday hymn.  For the section "The Shadow of Suffering" I played "Ah, Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended?"  It was a very interesting arrangement by John Carter, music I had bought just two weeks before.

It was very fulfilling to me to be able to play that music for that service!

Then today my youngest violin student, a six year old boy, came for a make-up lesson (we are in spring break).  I had been thinking much about how to proceed with him.  He learns music very easily, but is careless about how he plays.  When he concentrates he can do very well, but often his bow slides around on the strings.  NOT conducive to good sound!

Today he was very discouraged.  He said that he played all his songs in practice and they sounded awful!!! Actually, I agree, they do sound awful, BUT we can fix that!!!  We worked on where the bow was on the string, not over the fingerboard, and not too close to the bridge.  We also worked on how much of the bow he was using (too much!) and how he was stopping the bow stroke (by pressing down, giving a crunch at the end of each note.)

This is a real breakthrough!  He's now focused on how to make good sound, and has a few techniques to help him do that.  I'm excited to hear him play at his next lesson.  I know it won't be perfect, but there's reason to think that there will be a big improvement, given that he is motivated to make a better sound.

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