Don’t want to practice today? No problem, since you should already keep a notebook or journal handy in your practice room.
On the days you will be practicing:
Just before practicing, jot down a sentence or two about your goals for the session. That’s always a good idea.
If you’re thinking: “I’m not going to practice today,”
Simply write the following in the journal: “I’ve decided I won’t be practicing today.”
Now release any guilt or non productive emotions and go about your day.
Now at least you’ve made a clear choice, and brought a greater degree of mindfulness to your practice. Pay attention to your practice journal over time, and see what happens.
photo credit: mfhiatt via photopin cc
As a gigging musician you can focus on the quality work calls you are getting, and how you compare to your friends.
Or you can focus on improving your craft day in, day out. On achieving a greater level of mastery, even if the gigs suck. On staying the course, even if your audience sounds like a field of crickets.
The first path (the path of ego) will drive you to distraction. The path of mastery will always lead to a positive transformation in every part of your life.
Stop fretting or whining about how difficult that song or passage is.
Instead, start by finding or creating ten distinctly different ways to improve it. Even the smallest improvement counts. Do that, and not only have you improved your song, you’ve also gained ten new problem solving skills which can be applied to future musical challenges. Your violin practice time was a high payoff activity that will save countless hours of work moving forward.
When all is said and done you are:
1. A more skilled and thus more desirable musician
2. A more effective human being who has trained her brain to do high quality, creative work in any situation.
Music is transformative. Violin is transformative.
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.
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.