August 17, 2011 at 3:52 AM
Here's my first blog entry ever on this site, so here it goes!
This Summer has been particularly difficult for my playing. After one year at college, I find the lack of enthusiasm at home really hard to deal with. Everyone at school is dedicated and passionate about their playing; it's really a great environment to foster growth. So when I got home, everything seemed too relaxed.
School let out on June 10th, the same day that my first festival started, the Innsbrook Institute. For ten days, it was a truly life changing experience, packed with information and motivation to keep working. After that, I headed back to school to study at Northwestern University's Summer Violin Institute, led by my teacher, Blair Milton. That was an experience to be had. We were in masterclasses for 6-8 hours every day for two weeks. The classes were led by great musicians, Miriam Fried, Frank Almond, Gerardo Ribeiro, the list goes on and on. There, it was really apparent that we all share the same problems in playing. We all have troubles with scales, thirds, practicing, spiccato, etc. The best part about it was that we were given so many viewpoints on how to tackle these problems, it really opened my mind to practice strategies that I can use in my hours of solitude.
So after those two weeks of intense violin-ing, I got home to a relaxed environment. I felt a little lost in how to process all the information that I had been given, though that lasted only for a week or two. Luckily, I had the opportunity to work with some old friends from St. Louis to play the Ravel Piano Trio. If you haven't heard it before, it is really a thrilling piece to hear, even more so to play. It seemed the moment that expectations were had of me, or that a deadline to learn or perform something was given, I got right back into a groove with focused practice, though I really regret not having been focused enough for those few weeks this Summer. Anyone have any ideas of how to combat this sensation?
honestly speaking, why worry?
There are a lot of complex variables at work but first and foermost I would say that this time out is absolutely necessary. It is incorrect to assume that the mind absorbs information in a linear fashion, one thing slotting neatly in after another. On the contrary, we begin with a particular structure or model and the new information we receive needs to be integrated into this mode by a process of restructuring that is not done while playing. In the most extreme scenario the model comes tumbling down and it is quite a struggle to get back to where one was. there is a distinct sense of backward moving when in fact one is merely getting ready for the next stage. The mind cannot perform these essential learning fucntions without a substantial amount of time out.
Buri is (as usual!) absolutely on target. Intensity must balance with relaxation or the soul gets all twisted. Physical activity, mental activity, spiritual growth--doesn't matter: after intensity comes release.
So...absorb it, don't feel guilty, and be where you are (or you sort of miss the point).
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