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Pauline Lerner

What do skiing and playing the violin have in common?

May 10, 2007 at 4:12 AM

I have a new adult beginner student who loves playing and catches on quickly. We’re just starting Suzuki Book 1. I play a piece for him so he’ll know how it sounds, and then I have him play it. He puts his violin and bow in playing position, focuses on the music quietly for a while, and then plays it, almost flawlessly the first time. I asked him to explain what he’s doing, and he told me that he plays the piece all the way through mentally before he plays it physically. He learned this technique from a skiing instructor, who would have his class mentally ski a course they had skied before in preparation for skiing it again. He instructed them to ski the entire course mentally, omitting nothing. He even timed them to be sure that they were mentally skiing the entire course at a realistic speed. This approach had helped my student learn to ski, so he tried it on the violin, and it is working. I’ve heard about the value of practicing mentally when you can’t get your hands on a violin, but this is the first time I’ve seen someone do it, and the results are impressive. I wonder what will happen as we play longer and more complex pieces.
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