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Thanks. I believe I'm pressing too hard on the strings which is also what I think I do on the fiddle. Probably a bad habit picked up from acoustic guitar. I can really tell it on this banjer. The short scale length doesn't help much. Probably shouldve been a better shopper and bought the 19 fret. I went the 17 fret route. Feels almost like a mandolin.
Hey... This is a very common thing that I believe all musicians run into. In fact, because I follow Hilary Hahn on Instagram, I get to read some of her more personal insights. She discusses some of the frustrations and difficulties even a world class musician must confront. Everyone has those days... even professionals.
Personally, yes, I do run into discouragement. There are many things that I draw from to combat this. First, I have made certain personal commitments to myself regarding violin. I never compromise quality, I never give into laziness (which I define as relaxing my level of commitment to music and to myself for the sake of making things "easier" on myself regarding the violin), and I have personal goals to which I am absolutely committed.
Nevertheless, as a human I have days when, for whatever reason, it is difficult to pick up my bow. There are days when I literally must force myself to practice, if only to say I have practiced for that day. It is better to play for a half hour, than not at all.
Now, having said this, I do believe in breaks, rests, giving yourself time. My pianist friend, who has studied and played piano for all his life, tells me... it's ok, Pete, to take a day off once a week and not practice... And, reluctantly, I have done this.
Mentally, and emotionally, I recognize that it is important to rest. So I do not feel I am compromising my commitments to myself to take a day and rest. It actually is beneficial.
The other part of finding motivation is my love for music, my violin, and playing violin... each of which are three distinct areas I use to help myself.
- Love of Music - My entire life, music has been a part of me. Not just listening, but actively participating. As much as food and water and air, I need music for my well-being. There have been a few parts of my life when music has been absent. Those were the worst times, in terms of happiness, fulfillment, and love of life. Music is always a part of me and I have learned to make sure it remains that way!
- Love of My Violin - I love my violin! I know every part; its history, its origin, all the materials that have gone into crafting it, its tone, its weight and balance, its potential strength and beauty, both musically and how far it can reach the human soul. My violin is my most beautiful possession. To play it to its fullest potential is not only my goal, but my dream.
- Love of Playing Violin - For years I have played music. I played percussion in orchestra. I have played in stage groups, bands, and with other musicians. I have played with church groups and with schools. But I had no idea how much fulfillment violin would be to me. I try not to focus on this, but I do wish I had begun many years ago. So I play now! For myself, for others, for my happiness, soon for the orchestra! My commitment to violin is stronger than all the years previous in percussion.
These are some of the ways I remain motivated. I hope you find your own motivations. It is awesome that you are progressing so well and learning more! That, to me, is evidence that you have commitments of your own. Stick with it! You will do fine, even during some of these days... as we all do!
- Pete -
Yes, I definitely have those kinds of days. For me it's hard to get started and I tend to find things to do so I can delay my practice. On those days I push myself to practice for at least 5 minutes and see how it's after that. Usually that help to get me started, because it's easier to continue to work on something that you already do, than to quit what you're currently doing to start something new. Especially if that thing you're doing is entertaining or enjoyable. In Norwegian we have a term called the doorstep mile, directly translated. Usually it's referring to exercise, but it fits perfectly for practice as well. Half the struggle is gone once you step outside the door. Or in this case, once you pick up your instrument.
For the days with low motivation I work on more enjoyable aspects of playing. I love to play and practice, but doing one minute bowing isn't the most exciting part of it, even though it's highly beneficial. I work on those sort of things on the days I feel more motivated. I work more on tunes and musicality than technical stuff. If my motivation is really low, I pick out a new tune to play, even if it's just for this one practice session. Give my hand and brain new pathways, so to speak. Another thing that's motivational for me is to look up new music and watch great performances online or in real life.
It's totally fine to take a day off if you're feeling burned out or lack motivation. Even professionals do that from time to time. Get some new inspiration or impulses and go from there.
'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.
Did you ever have one of those days that you just cannot get yourself motivated, or if you motivated, just can’t get yourself to concentrate? Today is one of those days.
Every day. The violin is difficult, and I know I'm going to sound bad. I know it's going to be a long journey. I've spent the last 40 years becoming addicted to reading, and that's a habit I want to kick as well as developing this new one.