Written by Krista Moyer
Published: October 17, 2015 at 1:43 AM [UTC]
With all of these things going wrong, it gets hard to actually play anything because I know that I look awful when I do. I know this because people are constantly trying to correct my form. I'm sure it's with the best of intentions, but it still bothers me. Trying to concentrate on learning a piece, fixing my bow hold, and everything else seems next to impossible. After this much time, I should have fixed these issues by now, right? Right? Bueller?
My teacher continues to patiently repeat his corrections, but I feel I must be a huge disappointment to him. After all, I'm pretty disappointed in myself. I've missed every goal that has been set for me this year, and I feel my anger with my inability to improve grow with each practice session.
I read Laurie's blog Student, Have Patience With Yourself and vowed to follow that instruction, but I can't seem to. As a result, I'm less and less inclined to practice. Why bother, if it doesn't get me anywhere? This, of course, is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
After tonight's lesson my son pointed out that I was combative at the beginning. "Why do you keep saying you can't and refusing to follow directions?" he asked. "If I had done that, you would be lecturing me right now instead of the other way around. You owe our teacher an apology."
Of course, I had to admit he was right. When I got home, I sent the teacher an email apologizing for my behavior. It's tough when your teenager points out how childish you can be.
I need to learn to be patient with the process and not try to fix everything at one time. I also need to be grateful for even tiny improvements and trust that they will add up to something good eventually.
Please don't think I'm lecturing--I also am a working mother who took up violin as an adult. I'm just trying to convey my perspective having come from the same place as you. I'm having a blast (a friend just made a music video of me for a class!) and will never be able to play certain pieces, but still feel fulfilled learning what I can. I know I don't have all the time in the world but I feel better when I practice as if I did.
Something related that I discovered: people's opinion of how good a player you are depends not so much on how advanced your piece is but how well you play the piece.
My apologies if I'm missing your point but what you wrote really resonates with me.
I should have thought of doing what Karen did before she did it! I agree, it was quite clear you weren't denegrating your teacher.
Keeping you stuck on one piece for a year (the aforementioned Vivaldi A minor) isn't helping you. What will help you is attacking your problems from multiple different angles; this is pure scientific fact. Doing this with new material will also help you avoid falling back into bad old habits.
Your teacher should also be helping you isolate your problems so that you can work on them in highly focused ways, rather than struggling with trying to do multiple problematic things at once.
I think better teaching, especially teaching that includes very specific "how to practice these things in ways that don't overwhelm you" would help you a lot.
I decided to delete my speculation about whether your current teaching situation is a good fit for you. I don't think you came across as denigrating your teacher. If I came across that way, I apologize, and I was wrong. I was only thinking of situations I've been in myself. I'm glad you have a good working relationship with him.
Aside from that, I still wonder whether a shifted focus in your own mind, away from so much emphasis on external motivators like goals and progress, and towards reclaiming what you intrinsically love or loved about playing the violin, would help.
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