Practicing the Violin

Finding Your Musical Middle Path

Is it your experience (like mine) that playing the violin is a journey of a highs quickly followed by lows?

One day on top of the world, I can play practically anything. The very next day, even a simple challenge can seem baffling.

Logically you know that it’s better not to buy into either of these extreme story lines. Clearly, you’re not as great (or as terrible) as you might be telling yourself any given moment.

Still those “off the charts” thoughts and feelings are likely to plague you in any goal oriented project, such as mastering a musical instrument. They can distract, annoy or depress your for weeks on end.

Or… you can take the middle path.

You learn to simply notice the passing thoughts of a chattering mind without believing those thoughts. Noticing your thinking is part of your practice, just like playing scales.

Then, you pick up your fiddle and continue your violin journey with renewed clarity, creativity and a sense of joy.

Now, you begin to trust yourself. “Yes! my practice does work, and that’s all that really matters.”

Meditation teacher Jack Kornfield describes it this way:

Learning to rest in the middle path requires a trust in life itself.  It is like learning to swim. I remember first taking swimming lessons when I was seven years old. I was a skinny, shivering boy flailing around, trying to stay afloat in a cold pool.  But one morning there came a magical moment lying on my back when I was held by the teacher and then released.  I realized that the water would hold me, that I could float.  I began to trust. Trusting in the middle way, there is an ease and grace, a cellular knowing that we, too, can float in the ever-changing ocean of life which has always held us.

Thats’s really all there is, but it changes everything! When you begin to turn off that chattering mind you’ll feel the freedom of really great practice.

If clear minded, joyful practice resonates with you, read about Practice Circle Program charter membership.

Transform your own practice: read more about Practice Circle charter membership here

By Bill Alpert

Bill Alpert is a performer, teacher and author with a unique focus on personal development and mindfulness viewed through the lens of violin study. Mr. Alpert's resume includes recordings, performances and film scores with artists such as The Moody Blues, Pepe Romero, Tina Turner and Johnny Mathis. The co-founder of the award winning Alpert Studio of Voice and Violin in California, he is professionally active in the American String Teachers Association and the Suzuki Association of America.