The Week in Reviews, Op. 218: Isabelle Faust; Vilde Frang; Joshua Bell border=0 align=

The Week in Reviews, Op. 218: Isabelle Faust; Vilde Frang; Joshua Bell

February 19, 2018, 2:20 PM · In an effort to promote the coverage of live violin performance, Violinist.com each week presents links to reviews of notable concerts and recitals around the world.

Isabelle Faust performed the Mendelssohn with the Cleveland Orchestra.

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Anxiety, Biology, and Playing From the Heart border=0 align=

Anxiety, Biology, and Playing From the Heart

February 18, 2018, 10:45 PM · This past week brought us Valentine's Day, Ash Wednesday, Lunar New Year, and . . . Heart-Lung Day! I'm teaching at a new elementary school with Science from Scientists, an educational non-profit that brings hands-on science education to schools for grades 3-8. This was only my second time at this school and I was working with a new teaching partner. The school teachers wanted us to do two heart-related activities with the students, "Heart Health," a lesson with blood pressure cuffs and stethoscopes, and "Heart Dissection," which is what it sounds like: dissecting a preserved sheep heart. I'm a biologist, so people might reasonably think that I enjoy dissections. They can be an excellent way to learn anatomy. And yet . . .

In high school Biology class, dissection was traumatic for me. The smell made me sick to my stomach, and I was squeamish about the visuals and the texture. I watched as my lab partner struggled with the bulk of the work, and tried to participate by writing our names on the specimen's identifying tag. A "friend" told me later that my lab partner had been annoyed and complained during the next class period about how little I had done and how I'd written my own name first, and larger, on the tag, even though she'd done all the work.

I was ashamed of my behavior but couldn't do anything about it. The teacher, whom I otherwise loved and admired, made light of it and laughed. At that time in my life, many things felt out of control. I was ambushed by waves of performance anxiety about things that other people seemed to be able to do just fine. There were some narrow avenues of things that I was good at and that didn't make me feel this way, and I concentrated on those and let others go. I let a lot of things go due to anxiety and shame, including public speaking and solo violin performance. Keep reading...

V.com weekend vote: Have you ever quit your instrument for a period of time? border=0 align=

V.com weekend vote: Have you ever quit your instrument for a period of time?

February 16, 2018, 1:02 PM · Have you ever wanted to just quit? Have you ever done it? Did you come back? And then what made you come back?

For me, I've never really quit, though I've had periods where my focus has been elsewhere. After I got my degree in music, for example, I went on to get a master's degree in journalism. I still played and took lessons during that time, but it was not with the same intensity as I did as a music major!

And certainly, injuries, motherhood, attempting to pay bills with other work, etc. have meant for periods of less playing. There have been times when I've wanted to chuck the fiddle out the window (so to speak, never literally!) -- like after bad auditions, frustrating performances, or life's difficulties simply piling up too high. Somehow the music always calls me back.

Also, I can tell you that I've taught adults who took long breaks -- 20 and even 30 years! I've found that they are very successful in getting back to the instrument, as long as they put in the consistent practice and keep the faith.

What has your experience been?

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