Sunday, February 28, 2016

It's not arrogance when confidence is supported with substance.

my new instrument, though I do not yet own one


Professor Larry Bakman (not his real name; in the event that I mention him again in this blog, I probably will not offer this disclaimer but will instead leave it to the reader to determine [if he or she actually cares,which he or she probably doesn't] that I refer to this professor as Larry Bakman because of his rather obnoxious resemblance to the made-for TV judge Larry Bakman of Hot Bench) seems to have taken exception to a claim I made several weeks ago. Larry Bakman and I met up in early February at a religious observance at which I played the violin. He asked at the time what instruments I play. I listed them as tuba, baritone, trombone just a bit, piano, organ, cello (barely intermediate skill level there), and violin. I could have added other keyboard instruments, as in if you play one, you by virtue of transfer automatically possess basic skills in others, but I didn't want to pour on the self-praise too thickly; I've played organ long enough to have a reasonable mastery of bass foot pedals and of the specific fingering techniques that differ from those required for playing the piano, so it didn't seem disingenuous to differentiate in that regard, but I left off harpsichord, clavichord, and other instruments of that ilk, as well as electronic keyboard. As an afterthought, I added that I technically play viola, as anyone who plays violin also knows how to play viola, though I had at that point never actually touched a viola, much less played one.

Friday morning the professor carried a viola into the auditorium. Just before class was slated to begin, he announced skeptically to the cohort that I had "blazenly professed"  the ability to play the viola despite never having played one before. He handed the viola to me with a terse order to play.

I took the viola from him and tuned it to my satisfaction. Larry Bakman accused me of wasting time in tuning the viola ("put up or shut up" were his actual words),  but I told him I would not play an out-of-tune viola. Once the viola was tuned to my satisfaction, I played a few tentative scales, then segued to a Handel aria. A proficient violinist really can play the viola. I then asked Larry Bakman if he had any requests. He didn't. A guy in the cohort I nicknamed Raptor Jesus [for no reason other than that I read the name on the Recovery from Mormonism message board and thought it was too great a name not to co-opt, and he was the first  person with whom I came into contact after reading the moniker]  requested his favorite song, "In the Ghetto." I played through "In the Ghetto" for Raptor Jesus, then handed the viola back to Larry Bakman, muttering "Touche!" to him under the sounds of applause from my cohort mates. I hastily apologized to the class for wasting their time and money on such a pathetic display. If Larry Bakman had the grace to be embarrassed  even to the slightest degree, it wasn't discernible.

The only result of consequence to come of the encounter is that I now want to own a viola. They're not terribly expensive. I'll pick one up soon.


16 comments:

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  3. Good for you, Alexis! Sounds like the time I told the choir director at my college that I had perfect pitch. He played the notes while my back was turned. I aced them. I was his first student with perfect pitch. He didn't seem to like me very much, though, probably because musicians can be a jealous lot. :D

    I think "In The Ghetto" must be interesting when played on viola.

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    1. "In the Ghetto" was pretty pathetic on viola. it's not my favorite song anyway (filled with bathos) and I don't think the cello treatment did it any favors. raptor Jesus II sang along, though. He seemed to like it.

      Musicians who do not have absolute pitch are intimidated by those who do. sometimes people keep their mouths shut about it because they don't wish to deal with jealous classmates or professors.

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    2. I meant viola, not cello, though it would probably be equally bad on cello.

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    3. If they only knew that absolute pitch is really just a neat party trick.

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    4. Yep. Relative pitch is far more important and useful. Luckily for most (though not all) people with absolute pitch, they usually have fairly strong senses of relative pitch as well.

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    5. That's definitely true for me.

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  4. I actually know RfM's Raptor Jesus in real life. He's written a book. :) http://www.amazon.com/Passion-Raptor-Jesus-Mormon-Apostasy-ebook/dp/B005IQKAQU

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    1. I'm totally impressed that you know the guy. His name is full of awesomeness. I'll have to order his book when I have a bit of a break.

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    2. I've read RJ's book and friended him on Facebook. He's hilarious because he teaches school and tells his students to stop showing each other their underwear.

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    3. I must meet RJ the first before I die.

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  5. Of what subject is Larry an actual professor? Does he know related subjects well. If he knows math then he should be able to teach physics, right?

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    1. Larry is a prof of internal medicine. He lectures on epidemiology of chronic disease and on vital organs.

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    2. I bet Larry is a real gas at parties.

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  6. Larry's probably a gas everywhere. God, he's full of himself. he says he reads my blog and I don't even care if he's telling the truth.

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