A Violin Teacher Witnesses Her Former Student Tackling Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade" and Provides Interesting History on the Piece
by Rhiannon Nachbaur of Award-Winning Fiddleheads Violin Studio
I began teaching Rory Cleveland violin when I first moved to Salmon Arm in 1999. Rory was my first student here and an enthusiastic and tomboyish 6-year-old who loved to play the fast notes and fiddle tunes. She grew over the next several years in lessons into a dedicated “practicer,” a seasoned performer and confident musician.
Rory is now in her second year as Concertmaster of the local community/school district orchestra and is working at attaining her classical conservatory levels with a new teacher. At only fourteen years of age this former fiddler’s been handed a substantial challenge: to play violin with the Okanagan Symphony in an upcoming concert featuring, among other works, “Scheherazade” by Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov.
But before we get into the piece, you need to know a little background on the story it was inspired by. The story of “A Thousand and One Arabian Nights,” as told by me, goes something like this:
You can see that writing music to convey this passionate and colourful story of enourmous scope would be no small task. But Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s work lives up to the legend and has become a legend in itself.
So it is with great anticipation that I talk to my former student about her experiences learning the piece for performance. Rory, like most others, had also heard Scheherazade in segments before but never knew the title. She does recall that when she heard it she knew it was something she hoped she would perform someday and that time has come.
Rory is looking forward to playing this piece and especially playing with a symphony orchestra. She is anticipates hearing “the full sound of a real well put-together orchestra with the leadership of professional violinists.”
She went on to say, “I like all the movements because, though they are all different, they all have different variations of the theme in them. I think my favorite movement is the fourth one because I feel that it’s the most exciting and that it‘s moving forward.”
When asked if other children would enjoy the piece she quipped, “It depends on the kid but if children are gonna be able to sit through any music with out falling asleep it would be the Scheherazade because it is interesting and there is always a melody ‘talking.’”
Too true. The piece is on the long side, even for an adult listener, but knowing the storyline makes every moment of music a story to imagine. Parents of young listeners can whisper a narrative to make the piece more enjoyable and to stimulate imaginations.
Rory agrees that children, particularly musicians, will find it inspiring to witness other young people performing this piece.
“To see kids play such an amzing full difficult piece is inspiring ‘cause it kinda shows that they can reach any level (of musicianship) if they practice,” she said.
Which leads to the dedication Rory has had to show to keep up with the rest of the orchcestra, let alone the piece!
“It is a responsibility to say that you are going to play it 'cause you have to commit to it 100%,” she said. “You cant just say ‘I will practice once a week.’ I have to practise everyday. It has to look perfect and sound perfect when you perform it or else you embarrass yourself and let down the whole orchestra. You can tell when someone isn’t doing their part!”
Rory enjoys rehearsals as she always feels like she has “accomplished something at the end,” but it is also a tough proposition to make the many rehearsals. “I’m very tired ‘cause it is a 2 hour drive (each way) for us. I have to eat in the car and do my homework in the car until I get carsick. I get home at 11:00 pm.”
Rory finished with music to my violin teacher ears: “Practice-wise all I have to say is two words: metronome and recording. I think i finally realized the importance of using a metronome. You also need to listen to recording of thesong ‘cause you get a sense of the song and what is going on in the orchestra the whole time so you understand your part better.”
So, Rory, my dear, we look forward to enjoying your and the orchestra’s efforts in the upcoming concerts! Thanks for your dedication to the music and for recreating a piece which means so much to your first teacher and fellow violinist.
FAIRY TALES & FABLES with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra ran November 17-18, 2007. www.okanagansymphony.com
Rhiannon Nachbaur is a violinist and teacher who operates Fiddleheads Violin Studio Kamloops, BC. Rhiannon recently won her second Okanagan Music Award for “Classical Artist of the Year” and Fiddleheads won a Business Excellence “Green Award” for eco-fiendly practices. Shop online at www.fiddleheads.ca
Comments for Once Upon A Time There Was a Young Violinist and a Wonderful Piece of Symphonic Music…
Bravo, Rhiannon! You are a passionate teacher and a gifted reporter and storyteller. And a generous human being, living out and dramatizing Rory's triumphs even after she has moved on to another teacher.
- Roy Sonne, Pittsburg, PA