March 4, 2013 at 2:41 AMWe know what makes us into good musicians: Practice! But where do you get your motivation to practice?
After teaching for 20+ years, I'm convinced that motivation to practice is the single most important factor in a student's success. And for a professional, staying motivated and inspired is key to staying a musician!
I think that a person can be motivated to practice by a number of different things, and that those things likely change throughout life. Your motivation as a young child be in the hands of your parents -- your are motivated by Mom's nagging, or some kind of reward from your parents. Or, you might be motivated by playing a particular piece or concerto: the next piece in the book, or the Tchaikovsky Concerto.
You could be the kind of person who has cultivated a daily practice and is motivated by the daily devotion of keeping up that practice. Or, maybe you are madly in love with someone who inspires you to practice, or even maybe you have a "professional crush" on another musician you admire and want to be like. Maybe your teacher or mentor inspires you. I'm very motivated by having a performance -- somehow, I'm a person who needs a deadline! I'd like to get myself into that devotional practicer mode, though, as it's a bit more consistent.
You are probably motivated by a combination of things, but I'm interested in what motivates you most, currently, to practice, when you practice!
As an adult beginner, I feel like I need to take advantage of the opportunity to learn because otherwise the money is just being wasted. And since I'm taking up a valuable learning slot, it needs to be worthwhile to my teacher too. I can imagine it must be terribly frustrating to have a student who doesn't put in the requisite effort.
Except the obvious as to not waste my time and money (even more when it's my parents that still help until I graduate in something...) my love of music and my natural perfectionist behaviour.
My principal sources of motivation are these two:
Recitals and performances(but I just do some when I have plenty of time to prepare it)
In everyday life: my lessons (teacher) and my idols. I have a deep admiration for the great players and my top 7-8 idols all have printed pictures of them in my practice studio. Even though I'm not at all in their context, talent range or even era, I feel less alien since there are no musicians and even less good ones around me (thus no one to look up to). I recently had the luck to have the best present ever: an autograph vinyl of my "most" favorite idol. Even though I never would have asked and expect such a gift. I must tell that it's a pretty motivational item and a heck of a lucky charm!
And I forgot the most important... my beloved violin that is very tempermental but has my dream sound. You just can't work everyday with a partner you hate :)
I feel so blessed that I started playing violin at a early age and that I have been able to make a living out of it. Otherwise I would go mad :D.
Established as a child. Daily time duly spent(on the piano, actually) because if one was in lessons, one practiced. (Arguing was saved for other subjects in the early teen years. :-)
I'd like to keep the current modicum of ability, let alone grow a bit.
3. Pride. See "Fear".
4. It works.
I heard Stern live in the 80's. 'Nuff said.
5. What a great way to spend your time.
In that case it is really because I enjoy giving the performances the most when I am well prepared, not so much because I fear judgement or am concerned about the outcome, per se. I find the most joy in orchestral playing when I am cruising along on my part, playing well, not getting distracted or frustrated, listening to the other parts when appropriate, responding to the conductor, getting caught up in the music rather than the notes. When I am experiencing "flow."
I am not that great a sight-reader and I am not good at faking, either, so the only way I can get to that point of bliss is to practice.
I am also motivated to avoid the contrasting experience, of sitting there in the middle of the orchestra, lost, while the whole thing goes on around me and I stare at the music trying to figure out where the heck we are. (I've been there, too, and I have no desire to go back.) The only reliable way out of that thicket for me is, again, to practice and know my part well.
I used to feel guilty about not being a daily or devotional practicer, but I've decided to let that go. If I have to do something every day that is more complicated than brushing my teeth, I will come to resent it and likely quit. While I would probably make more and faster progress if I practiced every day, I make some--enough--by practicing most days and more when I have a concert coming up. Whereas if I got resentful and quit, I wouldn't make any progress at all.
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