Category Archives for Transformation through the Violin

Oprah, Bill Clinton and the Violin

It is said that in a business or sales meeting, the quality of your presentation skills will take you 95% of the way to your goal. This, regardless of the quality and nature of your content. It is a fact that typical presentations are so mediocre that even a modicum of skill on stage will place you far above the masses. This is a key ingredient that such diverse people as Oprah and Bill Clinton all share in common, the power to inspire and influence others.

You’d think that cultivating such an important skill would be at the center of every academic program, yet it is largely ignored. Except in thousands of great violin studios across the world, where even four year olds learn to mount the stage and communicate with confidence.

Beautiful violin music bears its own intrinsic and wonderful rewards. Beyond that, even if you aren’t Oprah or Bill Clinton, the violin gives you the power to change the world.

The Violin Teaches us That Life is Limitless

Today I said goodbye to a student of many years. My parting words to her: take what you’ve learned through the violin and use it in your life. It’s very powerful.

While everyday life can seem to leave boundaries around us, the violin teaches us that life is limitless. It shows us at a deep level that we are can (and must) transcend our perceived limitations on a lifelong journey of growth.

Seeing the mastery of others has always been an inspiration to me, it continues to teach me that mastery is not a destination but a process. That our skills are not inborn, but the fruits of a purposeful intention.

The universe is a much larger place than we can imagine or see through our very earthbound, human eyes. Still, the violin is a way to channel into something much larger and far more beautiful than words can describe.

Violin Teaches Us Project Management

I recently worked with two super enthusiastic adult violinists; in both cases their passion for the instrument was obvious. Strangely, they both suffered from a common malady, uncontrolled vibrato.

IMHO, this problem is all too common. It results from a shortcoming in violin pedagogy. Frequently the development of vibrato is left to chance, instead of being incorporated into the overall technical regimen. Drawing an analogy, it’s much like building a house, and deciding where to put the front door and windows only after the building is completely framed.

Teaching violin requires a comprehensive understanding of many moving parts; all these parts should be assembled in a fairly specific order, while keeping the whole in mind.

Your transformation: Violin teaches us project management at a very high level. It’s a skill that serves you well in any walk of life.

Lean into Your Stage Fright

Performing feels uncomfortable. Sometimes horribly so. Accept that as a truth and go so far as to lean into your stage fright.

The fear you are feeling signals that you are considering a project that is meaningful and important to your growth as a musician and human being. So acknowledge that being on stage is different than every day life; it’s not like tying your shoes or waxing your car.

Expect the inevitable butterflies, shaky knees and sweaty palms. The worst thing you can do is to try and push away these physical manifestations of how you’re feeling. Instead, go further by looking forward and getting inside these symptoms. Act as a neutral outside observer as the internal/external storm comes and goes. Watch it pass; it always does.

Here’s your transformation: The violin teaches you to release the fear and ignore the transient voices that hold you back. It is a shining, positive force for every part of your personal growth.

Are You Listening to Your Violin Teacher?

During your lessons (or practice) are you listening to your violin teacher? Are you on constant autopilot or are you truly, fully present in the moment?

In today’s over scheduled world, we frequently divide our attention between non-stop internal dialog and a slew of external distractions such as cellphones and e-mail. We’re walking around in a semi-zombie autopilot state.

Are you paying for a teacher’s time, and then proceeding about your week ignoring what what was offered to you on a silver platter? Just one tiny nugget from a perceptive teacher can save you months, even years of frustration.

Here’s your transformation: 

Train yourself to be present and attentive during your violin lessons and/or practice time and let that skill of mindfulness effortlessly take hold across other parts of your life.