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Clayton Haslop

Stronger In A New Way

June 6, 2009 at 11:21 PM

This morning I had a rather profound realization.  I think you're going to enjoy it.

As we grow we are constantly challenged to caste off outdated and inefficient ways of doing things.  Thing is, our minds and muscles often spend years defending them far below the level of consciousness. 

And sometimes, either through a great expenditure of will or an abundance of talent, we give off the appearance of success.

Inevitably, however, events can come to a breaking point.  In fact it should be seen as a blessing when they do.  They are, after all, clear and present opportunities for personal growth.

So let’s say you’ve reached such a place, and let’s also assume that you’ve got a fair idea of what change you need to graft into your playing and/or musical thinking to remedy the difficulty.

There is still the challenge of rooting the new habit or way of doing something so firmly and deeply that it consistently supersedes the ‘old way’ in performance.

Yep, the best of intentions can just dematerialize like a desert mirage when the pressure is on, can’t they.

What I realized today very powerfully, however, is that it is possible to meet this challenge, providing you do the following:

Make the case for the new SO compelling and attractive that your body-spirit reaches for it, and nothing else - even when the heat is on.

Now, I find that doing some seemingly unrelated activity along with the one I’m trying to adopt into my playing is essential to this end.  Verbalizing the beat, visualizing the music in your mind, and moving your feet to the music can all be useful. 

The point is you’ve got to take your learning to a deeper level than that held by what your are replacing, and beyond any shadow of doubt held secretly in mind.

Yes, the process can be uncomfortable at times.  That’s to be expected, in fact. 

After all, if playing in public is uncomfortable to you, creating and meeting a challenge of greater discomfort can be quite disarming to that vulnerability.

So I say, "Bring it on."

And don’t forget the ‘once difficult now easy’ reality we’ve experienced with every skill we’ve ever mastered.  There is nothing to be lost and everything to be gained by putting up with a little extra, purposeful discomfort to increase the effectiveness and potency of this effect. 

As I’ve said in my courses, if you can play and count a piece simultaneously, with accuracy and control, it leaves you way ahead of the game when you, say, surrender the counting in favor of following a conductor.

So there you have it. 

To surrender bad habits you must not only discover more effective ways of doing things - you must also root those new ways more deeply in the mind and body than what they replace.

All My Best,

Clayton Haslop


From al ku
Posted on June 8, 2009 at 2:57 PM

love it.  the point made has much wider application than just musical performance.


From Terez Mertes
Posted on June 9, 2009 at 3:57 PM

 What Al said.

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