Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. - Albert Einstein.
This is how I frequently practice:
Play until I get to a hard spot. Grumble. Play it three more times. Curse. Play it again. Play it again and accidentally get it right. Cheer.
Play until I get to the next hard spot. Make a face. Play it again and again and again and again. Grumble or curse. Play it again and again until I accidentally get it right. Cheer.
Play until I get to the next hard spot. You get the picture....
My violin teacher has a wonderful way of showing me exactly what I'm doing and exactly how it's not helping. Sometimes it's painful to watch, such as when he mimics my bow arm. Sometimes it's at once hilarious and embarrassing, when he tells me something completely obvious, such as
"Accidents and coincidences...these are not things we use to play the violin."
"You are repeating your mistake over and over again. Stop playing. Play it right. Stop. Do not let it be a coincidence." I do, in fact, have this crazy faith that if I simply play something enough times, I'll learn to get it right. In many things in life, rote repetition does work, but violin playing is not one of them. I shall endeavor to eliminate useless repetition from my practicing, and remember that three times correct is better than three hundred times incorrect.
My coworker's goldfish was just found dead. I happened to have my violin with me at work today, so upon request by our HR manager, I took it out. She held the little creature in a net, and I played "Taps" as we led a stream of colleagues to the ladies' restroom, where we said some words of goodbye and flushed it down to fish heaven.
Rest in peace, fish.
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