Yeah, that last post – yeesh!
See, playing the violin is a little weird. Because what you are doing is showing a piece of yourself to the world, it gets wrapped up in this messy little ball of emotionally charged angst. It’s like being a hormonal teenager without the zits. One moment you love that wooden box; and the next you want to set it on fire just to watch it burn.
There’s one thing that always makes things better. It’s painful, and humbling, but it always works.
I didn’t say practice harder, or longer. I said better for a reason. It never fails, but when I start feeling the most frustrated it’s because I’m mindlessly playing through my pieces without focusing on the details. We all do this. It’s a lot more immediately satisfying to play something all the way through. Then we can say we “finished” practicing and feel accomplished when all we managed to do was reinforce what we’ve been doing all along.
It’s not fun to tear a piece apart and practice the same three measures (or three notes) over and over until our fingers can’t do it wrong any more. It really stinks. I hate doing it, but it works. When I take the time to identify what is going wrong and work on it until it’s right, suddenly everything else just gets better.
For some reason, one wrong thing can set up a cascading chain of wrong things. Can’t vibrato on that one piece? Maybe it’s because your brain is busy chanting “Oh crap, that string of 16th notes is going to suck!”. And guess what, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. You were so distracted that not only did the 16th note arpeggio totally fall apart, but you couldn’t vibrate either, and just to make the party fun, your bow started bouncing too. Yay! All that training and it just comes down to whether or not you use your energy wisely.
It reminds me of that movie, “Dodge Ball”. It’s one of my guilty pleasures. My favorite line? “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.” Drill until you can’t get it wrong. Why do I keep forgetting that?