How Not To Give A Fuck
This is a post I wrote for Reddit's "How not to give a fuck" group.
Traveling and learning a musical instrument at the same time can be a bit of a challenge. Especially in Europe where renting private accommodation at every stop falls outside of my budget. So I've been staying in hostels a lot for the last three months and it's not really the best place for practising violin drills.
But really, hostel or hotel is a moot point. I took my violin practise outdoors because I get sick of being inside. It just seems weird to lock yourself in an artificial environment to practise music.
This was no problem when I was living in Sri Lanka and India surrounded by beautiful beaches and mountains and a plethora of great spots to practise music. Then all of a sudden I found myself in Moscow, Budapest, Vienna and other crowded cities. Usually you can find a good park to practise in (even Moscow has Gorky park), but you can never really escape the attention of onlookers.
It was around this time that I realised I hadn't learnt to bow straight when I began learning my new instrument. So I had gone right back to basics and was playing variations of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star slowly and meticulously. I was recording everything to make sure I was bowing straight (it's kind of difficult).
Every day before practising, you can't help but feel like "Am I really going to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in public?".
Well, yes. I was.
My goal was to learn to bow straight, not impress people.
The funny thing is, that once I started and was focused on my practise, the people around me seemed to fade away. Even more strange was that after my practise session I had the feeling that the people around me seemed to think I was good at violin. None of them play the violin and they didn't know why I was playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. All they saw was some guy deeply involved in what he was doing.
You intentions are usually pretty clear in any endeavour.
I remember seeing a violinist in the street in Istanbul and felt that his intention was to impress people. He looked for eye contact, smiled a lot and tried to attract attention to himself. It really didn't work for me. There was another in Moscow whose motive was apparently to play all the notes as fast as possible. That didn't really work for me either. On the other hand, I saw a string quartet in the Red Square playing covers of System of a Down and it was fucking awesome.
Their intention was to jam and make a fantastic sound.
I practised Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in public for weeks until I was finally happy my bowing was fixed. There were occasional awkward moments, like when someone dropped some coins in my open violin case, but mostly people were too wrapped up in their own lives to ... give a fuck.How Not To Give A Fuck
Roger Keays is an artist, an engineer, and a student of life. Since he left Australia in 2009, he has been living as a digital nomad in over 40 different countries around the world. Roger is addicted to surfing. His other interests are music, psychology, languages, and finding good food.