So often during this time of year, simply finding any time to practice can be a challenge. Of course, suffering from limited practice time isn’t confined to the holiday season. Whether it’s an injury, work and family obligations, or simply exhaustion you will have to cope with a less than ideal practice schedule.
If you’re committed to your violin practice, the mindful path is to avoid negativity around this topic. So don’t beat yourself up, and simply accept the situation without piling on any judgment.
On the other hand, when you’re feeling too busy to practice, you can interrupt a negative pattern by simply picking up your violin and playing anyway. This will prove to you that the frenzy of thoughts constantly crossing your mind don’t always reflect what is real and true.
The working rule here is to make those ten or fifteen minutes really count. You’re absorbed in your work. Your objectives are clearly in your mind (or down on paper). There is a relaxed, effortless quality to your playing.
Of course, this is the ideal for any and all practice. So by turning your holiday stress into success, you are moving ahead in ways that will constantly support you during the year ahead.
Last, but surely not least, use this time to share music of the season for friends, family and the community. Make your violin part of the celebration and everyone is richer for the experience.
Blessings to you and yours during this wonderful time of year.
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It’s fairly clear that we humans all share a bit of a negativity bias. When presented with a situation that could go two ways, we’re prone to predict it will go badly more often then not.
That’s a great quality if you’re a caveman worried about being eaten by a saber tooth tiger.
When it comes to violin practice, we often generalize in the same way, though it’s not quite as useful.
Recently, in the middle of a practice session I was thinking “there’s no way I can play this etude properly,” when in reality the situation was a lot more nuanced. Large sections of the music were totally fine.
I had generalized the problem in a way that wasn’t helpful.
Better to just think about the specific challenges in a more granular way. It turns out that problem was isolated to a specific motion on a specific string.
Looking past all the misplaced negativity allowed me to focus my practice much more efficiently. I fixed the problems quickly.
Negativity as an emotion is toxic to practice. Instead, use your “negativity” in more of a left brain context. “This specific problem in this specific spot isn’t what I want.”
Certainly, critical judgment is an important part of practice. It’s a positive way of being negative.
Next time you’re feeling down on your playing, stop and notice the emotion of the moment. What triggered this feeling? Take a break, do some stretching and hit the reset button.
Can you separate the emotion from what’s actually happening on your violin? Can you get clear about the actual problem(s), right now?
Feeling stuck and depressed during practice?
Clearing the negativity cloud will soon create a spacious attitude in your right brain. You become more sensitive, more aware. Creative solutions will appear without effort!
Try it yourself and let me know what happens!
Please do not wait until you’ve learned your favorite violin piece to celebrate that within your hands is a beautiful, powerful and precious object that was crafted lovingly at great effort.
Do not wait to recognize that your mindful focus during practice itself is a life affirming, positive statement.
Do not wait until your have achieved that elusive goal we call “mastery” to recognize that real mastery is finding joy in your work this very moment.
Instead of “practicing the violin music you love” perhaps a more useful idea for students of music, beginner or expert, might be “love the music you practice.”
If you can become passionate about etudes, scales, or music chosen for you by others (orchestra, or teacher for example) it’s far more likely that whatever and wherever you play, you will move your journey forward.
Don’t resist, instead embrace those days. They’re not a bad thing. Actually they are a good thing.
Now you can erase all your assumptions and once again approach your instrument with a sense of excitement, discovery and curiosity.
Isn’t this the place where your best work happens?