A Coy Mistress

Posted: 12/28/2005 9:41:40 AM
Miss Jenny

From: Chapel Hill, NC

Joined: 12/27/2005

Hello All --

After months of talking about how cool a theremin would be, my boyfriend shut me up by giving me an Etherwave Standard for Christmas.

Four days into it, I'm wondering what I've gotten myself into. I love the ethereal nature of the theremin's sound and I love to hear what people can do with it.

I am, however, beginning to despair ever making music rather than noise with mine. Now that I've got one in my possession, I wonder if I should have gone with something easier. The recorder, perhaps. Maybe the triangle.

But all hope is not lost. Sure, I've never played an intstrument in my life. And I do have a tin ear. I don't have a clue about music or what the heck makes a C different from an F or an A. Then there's that whole issue of absolutely no hand-eye coordination. And don't forget about the inherent lack of the teeniest drop of patience.

But that's all okay! Because one thing I do have, in spades, is determination. I will learn this freaking thing. I don't expect to do it well. But I will learn it well enough to play two songs I love: 1) Greensleeves 2) Moon River.

I'm so glad you are all here. You've already saved my sanity multiple times in the few days I've joined this strange and special tribe.

Wish me luck!
Posted: 12/28/2005 12:32:18 PM
Jason

From: Sammamish, Washington

Joined: 2/13/2005

Well welcome to the theremin and to Theremin World Miss Jenny!

Determination is definitely the key to playing the theremin. You may have to sit through the hours of "cat torture" before you can start to play music, but the end result is well worth the trouble.

If I may ask, what are you using for inspiration? Do you have the Lydia Kavina video or the Clara Rockmore CD, for example? I found that seeing someone play a theremin in person really helped my own playing. Then, I listened to the "masters" over and over gaining an appreciation for their control, phrasing, etc.

I know of a couple good thereminists in Chapel Hill, and I'm not far away (Apex), so if you ever want a kick-starter lesson in person, drop me a line.
Posted: 12/28/2005 12:49:10 PM
dulcimoo

From: COWafornia

Joined: 3/23/2005

Ms Jenny - my comments in ()
(If I were you I'd take Jason up on that offer Jason made in a pico sec! It will take weeks or months off your learning curve)

After months of talking about how cool a theremin would be, my boyfriend shut me up by giving me an Etherwave Standard for Christmas. (He sounds like a keeper)

I am, however, beginning to despair ever making music rather than noise with mine (This is a normal reaction). Now that I've got one in my possession, I wonder if I should have gone with something easier. (It is the easyest thing to play - the hardest to master) The recorder, perhaps. Maybe the triangle.(How boarding would that be now) (Because: You love the ethereal nature of the theremin's sound.)

But all hope is not lost. Sure, I've never played an intstrument in my life. (Does not matter as Theremin is like no other) And I do have a tin ear (Can you sing or hum resanably well). I don't have a clue about music or what the heck makes a C different from an F or an A. (If someone else plays them on a piano or recorder can you tell the difference - if so you are OK - if not give up now because you are truly tone def - that is tell which is higher than the other - you don't have to identify which is which) Then there's that whole issue of absolutely no hand-eye coordination. (you don't need that and hand-hand coordination will come with practice - you have to build cownections in the corpous colusioum portion of the brain) And don't forget about the inherent lack of the teeniest drop of patience (this might be a problem!)

But that's all okay! Because one thing I do have, in spades, is u wrodetermination. (Maybe this will make up for your lack of patience) I will learn this freaking thing. (They are kinda freaky arent they) I don't expect to do it well (then you will not). But I will learn it well enough to play two songs I love: 1) Greensleeves 2) Moon River. (Good choices - but why stop there?)

I'm so glad you are all here. (Likewise I'm sure) You've already saved my sanity multiple times in the few days I've joined this strange and special tribe. (Think we should go on Servivor?)

(Dulcimoo)
Posted: 12/28/2005 1:58:30 PM
kkissinger

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

Miss Jenny,

Hi. Welcome to the wonderful world of the Theremin.

Part of accomplishing anything is to assess the situation. So, to find out if you are truelly tone deaf, try humming a tune to a friend (or singing 'la la la'). See if your friend can recognize the tune (if you sing words, it will give it away). Try humming "Greensleeves", for example. Anyway, if your friend can recognize it, then you probably have a better ear than you claim.

Well, the other bit of good news is that you do not need hand-eye coordination to play the Theremin -- for what you are developing is hand-ear coordination. I would go as far to say that it should make no difference whatever if you play with your eyes open or eyes closed. In fact, you may discover to play with your eyes closed is very relaxing.

You have a great sense of humor which will serve you well. And you have determination. However, don't "grit your teeth" when you play the Theremin. Playing the Theremin requires a kind of "gentle, consistant determination". Always relax when you practice.

Above all, enjoy your Theremin journey. Keep us posted on your progress!

-- Kevin
Posted: 12/28/2005 4:44:33 PM
Tallwes

From: Portland, OR, USA, Terra, Sol, Milkyway

Joined: 3/1/2005

Here are a few suggestions.

Get an electroic 'music' keyboard and a beginner's book for learning the basics of playing the keyboard. You don't have to get a very fancy keyboard either maybe something mid to low price range such as what you can find at Radio Shack for example. The learning book will help unravel the mysteries of what the difference between a C and F is, etc. Set the keyboard up next to your theremin on the volume loop side, but not too close to the volume loop so you won't mute your theremin. You will be able to have the different notes right at your fingertips for easy reference. You can practice matching the notes from the keyboard on the theremin. The keyboard is a good instrument for this since you can play it with one hand(your volume hand) and don't have to hold it up.

Go through the Lydia Kavana's lessons on the DVD that came with your theremin.

Get Clara Rockmore's method for theremin book (http://www.electrotheremin.com/claramethod.html) and MIDI files (http://www.thereminworld.com/files/midi/midiexercises.zip). They are free and are available for download from the internet. I am going through these exercises now myself.

Hope that helps you get started.
Posted: 12/29/2005 10:46:00 AM
Miss Jenny

From: Chapel Hill, NC

Joined: 12/27/2005

Thank you so much for your replies.

Jason, I will definitely take you up on your offer. You say when and where and I'll be there!

I am using the Kavin/Rockmore DVD that came with my theremin and listening to whatever I can find online. I'm thinking about getting the Peter Pringle DVD.

Thanks for the tips about getting a keyboard to follow along with. I will definitely do that. I played a little bit more yesterday and was able to play around with separating notes and jumping from one place to another. And while it was still totally off-key, it was starting to sound a teeny bit less like a car engine shifting from one gear to another and a teeny bit more like someone attempting to make some music.

And I managed to hold a note for two whole seconds! That was a small victory.

I was thinking about playing some tracks with a theremin and trying to play along with the person on the track, in addition to playing along with the keyboard/MIDI files, etc.

Yesterday, when I was practicing, I realized I was super tense, with tight shoulders, holding my breath, stiff arms, etc. I relaxed some, dropped my shoulders, took some good breaths, and lo and behold, it got just the teensiest bit easier. And it was a lot more fun, too!

My pets are miserable, but I'm having a fabulous time!
Posted: 12/29/2005 12:28:20 PM
DiggyDog

From: Jax, FL

Joined: 2/14/2005

Jenny,

Welcome to Thereminworld.

Another thing you can do is just to put on the radio or a CD and play along with that.

Simpler music will work best but it should be somethign you like.

Just try to play along with it and see if you can do somethign that sounds like it goes with the music.

You may want to do this when no one is around so you don't feel self conscious. Chances are you won't sound great for a while but that is not the point right now.

You just need ot get comfortable with the instrument and with yourself in front of it.

Have fun!

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