So we finally got it finished! Our new EP is available now on CD Baby, and will soon also appear on iTunes and other music download sites.
We have learned so much from this project that we are already starting on the next one, which will be even better. But as conceptual artist John Baldessari said, “You have to try things out. You can’t sit around, terrified of being incorrect, saying, ‘I won’t do anything until I do a masterpiece.'” So its out there – check it out!
As I was practicing this morning, I realized that as I was warming up I was doing the same, or very similar things, to what I have my junior and intermediate students do. It made me stop and think.
Why was I doing these things that I have been practicing for years if I can do them already? Is this a waste of time? Am I bored? I don’t feel bored.
As I thought about it, my answer is: I do those things very well and very easily because I do them every day. If I didn’t spend a few minutes going over all the basics of violin playing every day they would all be much more difficult and I would be unable to successfully perform complex music with the necessary ease to communicate with an audience.
So when we practice we apply knowledge to develop skill. The easier it gets the more precisely we are able to apply the knowledge and the more finely tuned our skills can become.
To quote Shinichi Suzuki “Knowledge is not ability. Knowledge X 10,000 times is ability.
At his first recital, 5 year old Jimmy was to perform a piece that he had been polishing for weeks. When it was his turn to play, much to his dad’s dismay, Jimmy ran to the back of the hall and hid in the corner, crying. We went on to the next student, and later in the recital I invited Jimmy to try again. This time he made it to the stage, but he didn’t want to play his piece – just took a bow from the edge of the stage. At the next recital he and his dad again practiced his performance; practicing walking on stage, taking a bow, then playing his piece. Again he didn’t want to play when it was his turn, but after listening to more of the other students’ performances he finally came up and played his piece beautifully. Jimmy continued studying violin for many years, performing regularly in festivals and recitals, each time in front of an audience feeling easier and more comfortable. In high school he became fascinated with the technical side of the theatre, and was involved in running sound and lights for many student productions. Now most of his performing is behind the scenes.
Luke and his parents started violin with me when he was 4. Every time his mom or I helped Luke get ready to play he would collapse on the floor and roll around under the furniture giggling. Mom or I would catch him and start again with rest position, playing feet, violin position, bow hand, bow on the highway – and again he would fall to the floor just as he was ready to play the first note. Luke is now a teenager and playing very well. I looked at him and him mom in his last lesson and said: “You don’t fall down on the floor anymore!” and all three of us had a good laugh.