Looking for breakthroughs in my playing, those "aha" moments when a new thought suddenly pops up, has been one of the great joys of being a musician. For instance, the moment when I realized how to lose the hesitancy in my shifting and make it more accurate through measuring and spontaneity - what a breakthrough! To go from trudging up and down the fingerboard to a game of hopscotch was exhilarating.
Such a moment of insight was possible because I allowed for a new thought - one that contradicted what I had thought previously.
Of course, no two violinists organize their minds in the same way. But we do have some things in common. For example, our minds don't always agree with the previous instructions given by teachers. A lot of our practice is spent trying to do the things we are told, but making those things works for our own arms and fingers. The reality of playing can contradict with what we have in our minds as "right."
Searching for New Ways of Thinking
Thinking while playing is not an easy process because your brain is already almost fully occupied with the task of playing. A thought might take an overly elaborate route to becoming an action, and the result might not really work as intended. For example, in order to draw a straight bow, you may exaggerate the in-and-out motion of the wrist – a strategy that you were taught. But if you overdo it, then you have a new problem. So that technique becomes burdened by the reminder of what you’re "supposed" to do, and needs to be replaced with a more productive method. It's important to know when it's time to change thought patterns.
Fitting the Pieces Together from Two Musical Puzzles
Watch the evolution of your own technique, and you just may learn the meaning of patience and the importance of shedding unnecessary baggage. You will have to decide for yourself what matters in your playing, and find your own ways to practice that. A teacher can only guide you through the reasoning process. Here are some of the areas where you can start finding your own path and develop your own thinking:
Not only does the violin offer repertoire that can be explored endlessly, but musicians can continue to experience new perspectives on their playing for a lifetime. Sometimes, a breakthrough thought will lay the foundation for a particular technique and help the other details to fall into place. Keep the guiding principals foremost in your mind, and allow the other little details to float upwards. Be open to changing your thought patterns when the reality of your playing leads your mind into new territory.Tweet
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