Why study a musical instrument?

study of the violin is transformational

How a violin practice transforms your life.

1. Learning how to truly master specific skills leads to a fulfilled life.
2. Motions and actions are how you shape your basic approach to the instrument. Using simplicity, ease and mastery moves you through life gracefully.
3. Practice is defining specific goals. Defining. Specific. Constant clarity.
4. Practice strategies are the pathway to your mastery. Thus choosing work that matters and doing that work mindfully, will produce a high quality result.
5. Performing is creating work that is important to other people. Like sales and marketing hinges on understanding others interests, problems and aspirations.
6. Performing is also facing up to your challenges. Life presents us with such challenges on a regular basis.
7. Choosing the violin (or any instrument) teaches you to define and implement large projects.

The violin or any instrument becomes transformational when (and only when) you approach it from this larger perspective.

If you’re in it just to learn a couple of songs, that’s OK too. Just don’t expect any more than a quick diversion.

Violin Vibrato, a Canary in the Orchestra Pit

I’m watching your playing. Maybe at a gig, in orchestra and of course during your violin lesson. It’s like x-ray vision, though not in a creepy sort of way. Call it an occupational hazard of being a long time violin teacher.

I don’t have to hear you play. A very few visual cues will tell me whether you approach the violin with ease and mastery. Or if you are engaging in battles (or just skirmishes) with your instrument.

Perhaps the biggest canary in my coal mine is your left hand, and how you use it to produce vibrato. Because a great violin vibrato is the natural result of good basic playing habits.

For my fellow vibrato nerds:

There are only a very few simple motions needed to produce vibrato, I describe them in obsessive detail in this video.

How to Cut Your Practice Time in Half


Here’s a simple music practice shortcut for your consideration. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. And I can promise that you’ll achieve your current results and still cut your practice time in half. Or easily get twice as much done in the same amount of time.

It’s simply this: protect your practice as a sacred oasis from day to day life. It’s a place filled with curiosity, experimentation, discovery and a wonderful spacious feeling. In this place, impatience and frustration simply melts away. In this place the quality of your practice always exceeds expectations because any agenda exists only for the sheer joy of the work itself. It is truly immediate success on a new level.

On the other hand, you can continue to push and drive forward by force. Practice when over scheduled, exhausted or compelled. Accept gigs and auditions that cement unrealistic expectations into your life. We all know how that goes.

How hard is it to play the violin?

how hard is it to play the violin?

I don’t mean: “is it complicated?”

What I really want to know is, “how much PHYSICAL EFFORT is needed to play?”
I mean, how hard can it be?
A five year old can do it? A THREE year old can do it.

Still, we all squeeze, push and force sound from our instruments.

When we really need to COAX the music out.
Allow it to flow.

It will.

Allow it to ring through the room, filling us all with its glow.
That part can’t fail, if we’ll only just let it succeed.

It’s not effort that is needed.
The universe is on your side when you choose the violin.

Even Better than Violin Practice

Without a doubt, the single highest point of leverage in your violin journey is learning how (not what) to practice. If you improve this core skill, every aspect of your playing will win.

This, of course, is true for any level of musician. In fact, a novice violinist’s skills will actually grow more rapidly than those of a professional.

Yes, learning song and pieces is fun, but the rewards of violin practice as will as violin performance become far greater when you connect to that music from a place of greater practice mastery.