Fighting doubts about playing

January 3, 2007 at 07:28 PM · I just read the doubts of Edward Sura: "I think I might give up the violin....". I am fighting for 20 years already agains my doubts. Nothing changes. Each day the same frustrating clash between the pleasure for music ( given to you and played for you by the great violinists )and the un*pleasure of performing yourself. I am looking for satisfaction while performing but it is never there. The adrenaline rush, the technical mistakes, intonation problems, perfectionism,...,they all destroy what I actually want to do. A shame !

I want to give up each day and free myself from this virus...violin...I love it and I hate it each day and each minute...

Am I too old? Did I never practice enough? Do I have the courage for it? Am I musical enough? Can I manage the stress? Am I able to be a violinist? Is it worth is? and so on...

And still ... each day I am sorry that I spent hours without touching it , my violin...regrets and pain, hatred towards yuorself , towards your violin...and still ... each time I hear someone playing it (besides myself)I fall in love again!

We all do feel like this, I suppose.....:)

and still ... this is how I play

Type Korngold in the search engine and click Search( = Zoek,in Dutch)

Replies (50)

January 3, 2007 at 09:29 PM · Check out the following book called "Art and Fear." It's an excellent book on art and quitting and not quitting.

January 3, 2007 at 11:25 PM · Philippians 2:12

January 4, 2007 at 03:13 PM · Is that you, playing the concerto in the video?

I thought you did a beautiful job.

January 4, 2007 at 05:16 PM · Yes, I play in the video. I played it in December 2006. It was my debut concert in Holland. I never played Korngold before and I was asked to play it in late July 2006. So its a rather bad result after some 3 months practice. But I still love and hate the violin !!!!

btw is Elena Hirsu Romanian?

January 4, 2007 at 05:03 PM · Porumb:

Playing the violin is all about mastery - it is mastering perhaps the most single most difficult activity ever devised in the history of civilization. Nobody (but NOBODY) every masters it 100 percent. Not even Heifetz (who was supposed to be "perfect").

STRIVING for perfection, on the other hand, is what most try to do. That is certainly OK. And it sure is frustrating for anyone who plays, from the lofty stratosphere of Heifetz down to a lowly amateur like me.

What you have to do is to find a way to keep the imperfections and frustrations of this activity from determining your attitude. Find a way to live with it. With all of the frustrating work and concentration it takes to play the violin, you can't rely on enthusiasm and gratification as a major motivator on a daily basis.

I read somewhere that Isaac Stern hated to practice and would do so while watching baseball games on TV. In fact, is there anyone out there who LOVES to practice? Not many, I'm sure.

The point is, you can't let the frustrations and disappointments and unpredictabilities of playing this most capricious of instruments get to you. If it starts making you sick or stressed out, then maybe you need to quit.

But before you do that, read the rest of the responses on this website (You aren't alone, you know), and talk to a mentor or counselor to try and work it out BEFORE you make a decision you might end up regretting.

And if you do make the decision to quit, do it and don't look back.

Anyway, good wishes, and I hope you find your answer.


January 4, 2007 at 06:00 PM · OK.

"If it starts making you sick or stressed out, then maybe you need to quit". This is the sentence that stroke me the most. Its just the reality I am facing right now. I am not giving up yet, but only because I am afraid of the other reality: “if you do make the decision to quit, do it and don't look back.”

January 4, 2007 at 09:27 PM · Porumb, I think you play beautifully, and I don't think quitting will ever be your answer unfortunately. I'm afraid you ARE a violinist. It spills out all over your music.

I'm officially giving you permission not to play perfectly. The love you have for the violin is so evident in the way you play.

I battle with this too--here's a little clip from my blog--advice to myself:

"I'm a perfectionist and I beat myself to a pulp. I need to learn to see myself as a work in progress. When performing, once it's out there, it's out there. There's nothing more I can do. I have to LET IT STAND for its own merits. I have to keep my eyes on the horizon and keep the criticism for the practice room."

Only you can make the decision about what you want to do professionally, but I don't think you'll ever really be able to stop playing--it sounds to me like you were meant for this. We never know exactly how it will turn out, or for what purpose, though--not all of us have to have a career like Hilary Hahn's. I've got a feeling you won't find happiness in your life if you quit playing entirely. Your playing should be heard.

You'll find your way.

January 4, 2007 at 06:07 PM · I hope this little story helps. I'm a cyclist, not good or dedicated enough to be a racer, but what you might call a "fast amateur". At one time I started riding nearly every morning, always pushing myself to ride faster and better. As with any skill I'd hit a plateau and struggle to break through to a higher level. Still, there were always faster cyclists who would pass me. I grew frustrated and carried a sullen ambivalence of both wanting to quit but not wanting to be a quitter.

Then, one afternoon, for no particular reason, I went for a casual bike ride; wearing regular clothes, not trying to push myself, but just a nice ride. All the joy and sense of freedom I felt as a child rushed back to me and I realized that over the years I'd turn a fun and healthy hobby into an unwinnable pursuit.

Maybe this story loses all meaning for someone in the Netherlands (where bikes are so predominant), but my point is that it may help you to take a step back, ease off on the perfectionism, maybe take a couple days off, but at some point pick up your violin and play just for the fun of it. Find your joy. And from there I hope you will find a fulfilling balance between playing for mastery and playing for your own personal enjoyment.

P.S. If that's not enough, I'll add that I'm a guitarist who quit for several years, regretted it and have been trying to relearn. But as the years go by it's clear that I never seem to have the time to get back to the level I was at. Once the guitar stopped being part of my daily life the other things in life have crowded it out.

January 4, 2007 at 06:37 PM · Eloquent Jeffrey. I'm filing that away. I had a similar experience when I was training for my first marathon.

January 4, 2007 at 08:21 PM · Elena is American, but I think maybe her dad was Romanian (or Romanian-American), and her mother was Russian.

By the way - you're ten times further along than I am; I'm probably the worst of all the string majors at my school, and there are a lot. I definitely feel like giving up a lot of times. :(

January 5, 2007 at 01:14 AM · Thanks!

Its a big issue and its not getting better. I already finished 5 years of University, now I started again. I worked professionaly, now I don't. Plus each day its getting more and more difficult to practice, each minute means pain and suffering. After 20 minutes I give up. Than I hate myself all day long for stopping. And its getting even more terrbile if my friend starts listening to music ....he adores classical music ...( and than I get more and more sad.....each note makes me cry......out of anger out of love ....passion...regret...)

January 5, 2007 at 02:40 AM · Someone mentioned Philipians 2:12 above. I had a look at it, and it seems to be saying that we should suffer in order to realise how lucky we are to be in a relationship with Christ.

However, I don't think that is the way with the violin.

I received a music scholarship for the final two years of my schooling. Over that time, I had one focus - to get into a certain University and do the Bachelor of Music there. I was sure that I would be accepted.

I had my audition, and felt that all was going well. Eventually, I received a letter, saying that I hadn't been accepted. This was a hard blow for me, and even writing this now... after everything else that has happened since (this was the end of 2003) I still feel very sad and dissappointed. That evening, I had tickets to go see the local Symphony Orchestra - with a soloist (of whom I can't remember the name) playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. After watching this guy play, I knew in my heart that no matter what, I still wanted to play the violin.

I didn't get offered a place in the bachelors to the other music university, and was on my way out the door to orientation for a Bachelor of Internet Technology when I received a letter offering me a place in the Advance Diploma course.

Having now completed the Advance Diploma course, I received another blow when I was not offered a place in the Performance stream, but instead a place in the Music Studies stream.

Now, looking back, I know that I haven't really practiced as much as I could over the years. I know that had I worked harder earlier on, I could be a lot further along than I am now. I could be in a much better position, entering the last year of a Bachelor of Music at my first preference, possibly looking at honours and then heading straight into an orchestral job.

But, that is the past. There is nothing I can do to improve the amount of practice I have done in the past. But I can make a choice now - to accept this decision and move away from performance, or to change my habits, and start working hard now. To sit down and do the work that is required to get me to where I want to be.

What you need to find is the love for the instrument. For me, it's the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto - whenever I hear that, it pushes me on because I want to learn it. However, I am apprehensive about tackeling it too soon, for I have put it on such a pedestal for me, that I don't want to do it injustice. But that striving to play pushes me on - the desire to earn a place in an orchestra pushes me on, gets me through the scales and etudes that I'm forcing myself to play.

Find that love for the instrument - and whenever you're feeling a bit down, go back to it.

January 5, 2007 at 12:08 PM · Since I don't know you and I'm not a psychiatrist, I may be way off-base, but it sounds to me as if you may be clinically depressed and the reasons may have nothing to do with the violin. Your playing, at least from that excerpt, is beautiful, and for some reason it sounds as if you can't hear that anymore.

I would recommend going to see a psychologist or other counselor you can trust. This is not necessarily about music, it's about your mental well-being, which is really the most important thing. There is help for these kinds of feelings. Take care of yourself and try to get well so that you can enjoy again the beauty you create.

January 5, 2007 at 02:08 PM · karen, that is a very insightful observation and it takes guts and empathy to relate to another person as well as you have done.

another thing with dissatifaction over a long period of time is that the goals set may be too high to reach in the short term, or never reachable, but the perception is that the goals should have been met yesterday. it could be a personality trait where one strives and lives for perfection or near perfection. many very successful individuals are highly competitive but never content or rarely happy as a result. (one can make the argument that because of that attitude, they become successful)

there is no doubt in my mind that for some violin playing is like a drug in that you do develop dependence and addiction, which means, you crave for more as time goes on and there is a feeling there is never enough.

i am hardly a musical person, but when i hear or play an instrument with an outstanding sound, the voice lingers in my system for a long time. it can consume you and burn from inside.

the half life for many additive drugs are in the range of hours to days. with violin, it is stuck for life.

January 5, 2007 at 04:11 PM · Your playing was verry beautifull and the music really touched me.

One thing that you can ask yourself is "why am i doing this, what is it that drives me?" Besides the love for it.

If you desire to shine on the stage and have people telling you how great you are (a normal way of thinking) you will never be satisfied, because it can only go two ways, one is that noone says anything to you and you didn't feel like a better person than anyone else even though you where standing there playing beautifully. you didn't like yourself more for doing it and noone else liked you more than before either.

two is that people come up to you and give you one complimant after the other telling you you where great and wonderfull, outstanding!!! and yet you do not feel any better about yourself, in fact those coments makes you sick, you don't want to hear them. Because in the end it's not about you.

Let the love for it drive you and when you perform, listen to the music, don't listen to yourself trying, just the music, become a listener not only a performer. let the music serve you and let your playing serve other people.

I don't know if you're getting anything out of this but i'll say one more thing,

start believing in yourself, and know that your musicality is a wonderfull gift from God and that should not be taken lightly. God says that you are wonderfully made, and this is who you are and out of who you are comes your music, not the music of the person who wrote the piece, but the music of your heart, your way of playing, noone elses, and that's a gift. There is no love in the world, only in God and that's where the music comes from.

Even if nothing of what i wrote made sense i hope that things will work out for you. -Sarah-

January 5, 2007 at 04:53 PM · Ms Romana,

After reading all your comments and listening and viewing your performance I must congratulate you on your performance…

If you will permit me… I would just give you 2 pointers about the performance:

Your violin should be properly tuned before going on stage, I noticed you A was way out!

When you bow, take your time and take a nice breath, let it all sink in! Don’t rush enjoy the moment!!!! Look at some videos and at the masters and the way they pause when they do it.

Regarding your comments:

“And still ... each day I am sorry that I spent hours without touching it , my violin...regrets and pain, hatred towards yourself , towards your violin...and still ... each time I hear someone playing it (besides myself)I fall in love again!”

I would seek some conseling on how to deal with the big monster… perfectionism,...,

We all suffer with it, I DO, but you need to learn to let go and use your perfectionism in a constructive way! I think once you overcome it you will find more pleasure in playing, performing, etc.

I like and agree with Karen’s comments…

Don’t give up keep working, learn to deal with the “negative” issues and I think you have a bright future in front of you!!!



January 5, 2007 at 07:15 PM · Thank you Peter and all of you. I think more musicians are very happy about your advice and oppinions, not only me. Its great!

I still doubt...but for sure I will not stop...

But how did I get to this point? How did I reach this level of frustration?

Last week I was asked if I could play Tschaikovski, all 3 mvts., next March ( that is in 8 weeks from now). I also wanted to do an audition with NNO ( North Neth. Orchestra). I also wanted to enjoy Winter Celebrations. There are a lot of other projects and gigs going on too (plus all my duties as student).

I was brought up musicaly in Romania a completely different sight than Holland where I recently moved to. I was offered some chanses from which Korngold has happened. "Its all great!" I am satisfied with myself fulfilling my ambitions (changing country and mentality) but not on violin level.

But now I feel (and its obvious) that there are many things in my playing that desperatelly need more quality, more time, more love. But how on earth can I refuse to play Tschaikovski ? ( I know its crazy in 8 weeks, and I played it some 4 years ago when I was student in Romania). For any musician to play solo Tschaikovski, to get the chance to play it with an orchestra is exactly like "Cinderella getting her prince". Unfortunatelly 8weeks make the fairytale become a full speed reality-thriller.

So all these decisions, all this mess about how, what and why? It is all about music .....but somehow chanses always reach me when I am not preapared or when I am very tired and exhausted. So now I have to decide.... Tschaikovski or no Tschaikovski !

January 5, 2007 at 07:18 PM · Eight weeks to get the Tschaikovski in top, performing quality??

That's crazy!!!! Even I would not do it, and I just performed it last september!!



January 5, 2007 at 10:43 PM · ".....but somehow chanses always reach me when I am not preapared or when I am very tired and exhausted"

Ain't that the truth!! Someone said something like Life is what happens to you while you're busy getting ready for it. Definitely something to be on guard for, if you can. I remember my first violin teacher telling me to always be prepared for anything. I can't see the video. The site crashes my computer. I trust Peter though.

Think about this - would you consider using the sheet music for the Tschaikovski? The only message that gives is that you didn't have enough time to prepare for it. If someone wants to hear you, and you give them that even if you have to use the sheet music, it makes you look good really not bad, right? Best.

January 6, 2007 at 01:14 AM · i'm no professional but i thought the performance of the Korngold went very well. That looks like a college or conservatory orchestra you played with. is your invite to play the Tchaikovsky with another youth or conservatory orchestra? if you're really worried about the Tchaikovsky perhaps you should suggest a change to a program you're more comfortable with? i think it would be a shame if you weren't able to enjoy the experience of playing Tchaikovsky because it just causes too much stress and worry.

are you still in school or a full time professional?

i don't think i can ever handle or understand the life of a professional soloist but perhaps playing some chamber music would take off some of the focus on yourself.

January 6, 2007 at 02:19 AM · Hi Ben,

Here is my interpretation: find that love -- and don't give up. Keep walking towards it. We will face discouragements and at times fears.

I mentioned that verse from Philippians because the post above mentioned fear. It reminded me of the verse.

Perfectionism, as mentioned by some here, is a classic weakness of artistic people. One way to overcome it is to realise that good art has a component of imperfection woven into it. Szigeti mentioned something about this in one of his books -- about how an artist will tend to seek the path of most resistance. If things are too easy, spiritually there is a loss. It is difficult to get our heads around this idea sometimes but (at least to me) there seems to be a strong kernel of truth in this. And, paradoxically, what is hardest is sometimes easiest.

PS Best of luck Ben in your future violin studies. Out of interest, I see you are in Perth. I was in the Subiaco String Orchestra (community orchestra) violins during a 3 month job I had in WA in 1998. A lovely part of the world!

PPS Thanks Sarah for your beautiful post above.

January 6, 2007 at 01:11 AM · Greetings,

it also srtruck me that you might be mildy depressed.

Obviously your playign ability is not a problem (except maybe for you...) so it made me think about how to keep things in perspective. This is not something I am especially good at even now, but in the past it has been violin and nothing else mornign , noon and night and this is neither healthy nor the best thing for your playing in the long run. Violin playing is perhaps best enjoyed and developed as part of a balanced life. If it the -only- thing you give your undivided attention to then what may happen might perhaps be vizualized in terms of a box erepresenting your life with the word `violin` . taking up all the space. Then for some reason you lose that, perhaps an accident, and all you are left with is, nothing. This often happens to women who only have the word `family` in their box. At the point where the children have left home etc. life becomes a wasteland. In general I think people are healthiest working within a grid of about nine things. I suppose mine would read something like the following:










The purpose of consciously identifying a grid like this is that one then make san effort to work on each aspect of the grid everyday. It doesn@t have to be a long time, or the same amount of time, but at each moment one is focuses 100% on that action and nothing else. This is diffenret to deciding to cvall a friend and during the call you are lsietning with half an ear of less while thinking about the essay you have to hand in tomorrow at school. The abilty to be `present` is one of the hardest skills we have to master and it does obviate the need for stressing out about anything, since this typicvally involves eitehr living in the past or worrying about the future, neither of which actually exist er, in the now.



January 6, 2007 at 03:10 AM · what concrete steps should one follow if it is determined that in 2 months Tchx3 is to be performed at high quality?

January 6, 2007 at 03:17 AM · Ms Romana,

To me it's very simple... I also get many offers and requests to play, but I made it a rule many years ago to only perform a concerto, recital or such work like the Tschaikovski, ONLY, if I could play it at a certain level of QUALITY.

Your performance was very good, so good that I viewed all 3 movements!

I think that (IMO) in your shoes or any musician who plans to make a living or make a name in music needs to be very careful with the quality of his/her presentations and not fall into the trap of jumping at all opportunities to play, unless you are sure and comfortable with the repertoire.

Furthermore I believe that at your level and with continued hard work, you will not have any problems finding decent orchestras to play with and to perform solo work with!

Seek someone professional who can help you with your possible depression and the negative feelings you are having… after, contact me if you want to perform in the US and I will get you a couple of decent orchestras that would love to have you as a guest soloist.

Best regards,


January 6, 2007 at 03:27 AM · Now you can take your time and when you're done Ferreira Associates will be your agency!

January 6, 2007 at 03:44 AM · This seems to me the best example of why success and performance coaching should be part of every creative person's lives--in reference to Beta Blockers.

Korngold: The music is absolutely beautiful.

January 6, 2007 at 03:52 AM · Just an aside.

This has been a wonderfully supportive thread. As combatative as we may sometimes get, it really is uplifting to see such support given so freely, so constructively and so caringly. Big thumbs up to all of you.

Now that's enough of the mushy stuff... :)


January 6, 2007 at 09:02 PM · I think I am getting it*.

I just don't know which name to mention first, of all of you who contribute to this subject.

First of all I am deeply moved. Unfortunatelly I can't do much with words, but to say thank you.

I had a rehearsal today with professionals, for a gig. I had dinner in the city with collegues. I asked violinists that know me and my playing.

And I tryed not to complain about life and suffering.

The result was that they all pushed me to do it. Tschaokowsky in 8 weeks. And I am going to give it a try. And if it is necessary I will use the sheet music (Jim).

Now to Peter Ferreira. I start feeling under presure because of your good advice. Your advice is something that I already heard these days and that was the issue that produced my "depression".

You are 100% right. And I wish I would not be so childish. I wish I could follow your advice. I agree totaly. Somehow I hope, deep in myself, that I will become more adult in my decission making. But it looks like I have to suffer and learn, maybe risk too much, hurt myself, only to realise whats it all about...and learn from very difficult experiences how life works. I want to play Tschaikowsky with an orchestra, and not only once ...and maybe now its the time to begin. Sorry not to reach your expectations yet, I will surely try to !

And now? "What concrete steps should one follow if it is determined that in 2 months Tchx3 is to be performed at high quality?" ( thanks, good question Al Ku)

January 6, 2007 at 11:43 PM · ms romana, finally i got to watch you play since earlier i could not get it to work. since i am not a musician, i cannot say much, but do feel that you were able to convey your feelings through your playing, touchingly at a very high level.

i hope you have a team of good people around you that can be of help to you during this rather trying time, to give encouragement when needed, to provide candid feedback and offer realistic suggestions when needed, so that you can try to do the impossible. on one hand, as peter said, it seems like a very big gamble; on the other, i totally understand your desire to take the risk and prove yourself because opportunities are knocking on the door, something i think you live for. as you said, you can only know the outcome by living it. yet, if you do determine to go ahead, there is no looking or turning back till it is over. enter the zone and be the master of the universe.

i do feel you have the type of personality that i have been talking about. not in a negative sense, but a bit paranoid, insecure, talented, accomplished... fit a true artist's mold well. i do not think it is possible to change that, at least not anymore because you are where you have been. it is possibly not even prudent to really calm down too much because you have achieved this far because of your approach. i hope the posts here can give you some different perspectives and allow you to look within, about dreams and reality. i hope you can manage and channel the feeling of doubts into positive energy with which you can propel yourself to another level artistically and possibly more importantly, on a personal level.

too bad you are not in the US, or peter may have arranged an entourage consisting of sports psychologists, massage therapists, butlers and your very own personal shopper:) and a white stretch limo of course. until then, i hope you can try to live healthy: eat better, sleep deeper and do enough exercises to stay on the side of sanity.

January 7, 2007 at 04:21 AM · WOW!!!!


January 8, 2007 at 08:46 AM · "too bad you are not in the US, or peter may have arranged an entourage consisting of sports psychologists, massage therapists, butlers and your very own personal shopper:) and a white stretch limo of course".Yes Al Ku. But I know where I am comming from ... material needs where the biggest problem for me untill I moved to Holland. But in Romania I received a lot of mental support which I don't have here ( coaching, good advice, and all regulary, almost each day,....)

There is a moment when you realise that the two sides ( material and spiritual) are never in balance from the outside. So you have to find that balance in yourself. Whenever I try to find that balance I fall deep in myself and I lose my direction, but so bad that I need weeks to recover. ( It might be called idea).

So how do I push myself out of it? By fighting and challenging myself to the outmost extremes of by ability. And I just started to notice that I always did that. It is maybe the reaction against my weaknesses, my lazyness, my bad playing, my naivity, my poverty, my stupidity...long list unfortunatelly. But thats me and I know the solutions. Mental coaching, good practice, good planning,someone who cares for my food and my time, and organises my life a little. I don't wish to be organised by other but it is necessary at least 1 or 2 years, untill I understand how it works.

What I need is maybe someone who trusts me or who is crazy enough to gamble and trust and support me.

Don't we all need this? Musicians and artists, people in sports and politics?

well its time to practice so.....we shall go on tomorrow.......

Good luck everyone and God Bless you all for your generosity.



January 8, 2007 at 02:05 PM · ms romona, thanks for another heart felt note. it is precious to be able to share your inner thoughts in public.

depression is not simply feeling bad about your playing or yourself; there are other associated symptoms. you may want to read up on that or talk with someone professional. statistically speaking, 2 out of 3 individuals go through depression at least once in their life time, thus way more common than good violin playing:)

there was a mayor in New York City by the name of Ed Koch who used to jokingly, openly ask: How AM I DOING?

i find that perspective interesting, looking at oneself from a different angle or distance, allowing others to provide feedback.

self doubt if taken positively can turn into candor, honesty. fear of failure can be channelled into desire to win. i think the key issue here is control. if you feel you are in control, follow your routine, however miserable it can be at times because that is you and your chosen path. if not, get timely help from good people. good luck and good playing!

January 8, 2007 at 02:45 PM · There is a bottom-line issue here over how many very talented, superb players there are out there compared to how many can actually earn a living playing. Surely some of your struggles relate to this real-world concern. No advice, just a reflection. I was motivated to a teaching career, and now in my 50's have found a nitch playing fiddle styles and leading a string quartet. I get paid, but it is pocket money, not what I rely on. Sue

January 8, 2007 at 07:31 PM · Porumb, I think this issue is one of two things:

1) You love the violin but no longer love it as a career, yet you might not think you can do anything else and feel "trapped"

2) You don't give yourself enough time away from the violin to come back to it refreshed.

I think it's more likely number 2. Take 24 hours off a week and see if it helps...I think the idea is to make sure you fit some things in your life that are not musically related so that you come back to the instrument feeling spiritually and mentally refreshed.

January 8, 2007 at 08:24 PM · "You don't give yourself enough time away from the violin to come back to it refreshed." Well I wish it was the case, Daniel. I almost never practice more than 1 hour in weekends, unless I have a concert on Monday (which is not common). So my trouble is getting myself to the violin and hanging in there. Once I stop (even after 1 hour of practicing) I have a hard time getting back to it.

Yes, I would love to be connected to people who are a little bit fanatical about practicing (but not too much).And after that, after practicing my head off all the time, make a schedule for time off. But the problem is getting myself into the practicing "mood".

How about you?

January 8, 2007 at 08:31 PM ·

January 9, 2007 at 08:27 AM · Well, you're talking to someone who practices about 5 hours per day. This is because I am trying to learn as much repertoire as I can before I get out of school in under 2 years. The way I stay motivated is by telling myself that I owe it to myself to be the best violinist I can, because playing is a privilege that can easily be taken away. I also owe it to myself because when I was about 18, I decided over medicine and engineering that violin was for me, and failing would be one of the worst things I could do.

That being said, I also have particular ambitions of how I want my life to be, and I know that these decisions are right around the corner...

January 9, 2007 at 01:31 PM · Hi,

May I interject something...

Motivation for practicing comes from within. The goal is always the same: improvement. If it is anything else, then frustration sets in.

On learning music quickly, I once asked a former teacher of mine - a master at it! -, while I was cramming in a huge recital program in 18 days how he did it (he once played something like 35 chamber music works in eight weeks one summer). His answer was blunt and memorable: "Shut the F*** up and do it!" That was a biggie. His point: if you are asking yourself questions or anything else, then are not doing it and becoming your own biggest obstacle. When you just do it, with a clear and free mind, then you do what you can, and get more out of it then you could ever imagine.

Worth a thought...


January 9, 2007 at 02:37 PM · are right. And luckily I found on this site (in all these answers, advise and oppinions you all posted) the missing piece of my puzzle. That is: the right people to talk about these issues. I got more out of this then I get in my actual context. I missed the support and pleasure for playing. Somehow in these few days since I started writing I got my strength back. I am only waiting for a little inner bloom, but it will surely come along the practicing hours. Making music was my dream and I almost forgot it.

I am going to do my best.

The problems I face are surely the same for the majority of the violinists and musicians. So I hope that others reed these comments too. Its great!



January 9, 2007 at 05:37 PM · Hi,

Porumb, I couldn't access your performance, but by all accounts above it was very good.

Important things to know, is that most of me, certainly me, do feel the way you do from time to time. I did go through a rough patch for quite a while now, but resolved to get around it and start working. The best solution for me? Well, I got a new chinrest that fixed physical problems with the instrument, and then started working. I remember something that always sticks in my mind from a psychologist, Dr. David Burns (a well-known author) - MOTIVATION COMES FROM WORK, WORK DOES NOT COME FROM MOTIVATION. And time again, and again for me, it is true.

That said, you are obviously a very talented player. The fact that you can even consider doing the Tchaikovsky in eight weeks, means that you know somewhere that you can.

Best of luck, and do know that you are not alone in feeling the way you do.


January 10, 2007 at 04:38 PM · "The fact that you can even consider doing the Tchaikovsky in eight weeks, means that you know somewhere that you can."

But at what quality level??

Remember... I'm judjing by what I read here from Ms. Romana!!! And if something goes wrong, what will it do to someone that is already "Fighting doubts about playing"?


January 10, 2007 at 08:09 PM · "But at what quality level?"

At a quality level that would satisfy her, you have to asssume. I can't picture you not playing it with two months to practice, after already playing it just four months ago. You know what you can do of course, but four months ago and two months to go? I might be wrong, but my impression is people do that all the time, but you're warning against that even. Are you overly cautious?

January 11, 2007 at 10:13 AM · i think that being able to pick up something like the tchaikovsky concerto four months after performing it to a high level with two months to go is just one of the many aspects of the skill set called "violin soloist". i don't think there's anything strange or even particularly daring about it and i'm puzzled as to why anyone would think there is. it would be different if this concerned a young student, but although i couldn't watch the video, it sounds like romana pretty much knows what she's doing!

i say go for it, kick some serious ass, and feel good about yourself and the fact that you are so lucky as to be able to play the violin.

January 11, 2007 at 03:19 PM · this is a toughie..

on one hand, it is tough to argue with peter who has been there, done that, very well.

on the other hand, it is tough to ever be ready for anything:) no matter what!

better know yourself


January 11, 2007 at 11:58 PM · Hi,

Peter Ferrera - good point.


January 12, 2007 at 02:57 PM · Yes, Peter.

I agree with the quality demand.

And to be honest thats what I miss in my playing, quality. And it is ok to be critical with yourself but not so critical that you distroy what you did untill this day, because you stop believing in yourself and in the process of becoming youself.

Thats what I do, unfortunatelly. Whenever somebody asks "how was it? how did your concert go?" my answer is clear: "It was terrible, I played so bad, so many mistakes, so out of tune,...".

Its good to realise what you do wrong. But somehow my realism is almost paranoic. I get sick and depressed ...and I feel that I will never be able to perform better. I forget everything that might have been positive.

But I am working hard now. And I hope I will not doubt the process of becoming. I still doubt my own playing though( realy bad ).



January 12, 2007 at 06:07 PM · Porumb--you sound like the consummate artist--prone to "Sturm und Drang" (sorry everyone who speaks German--I'm sure I just butchered that--I only learned that as a term Goethe used to use to describe the romantic spirit--I was told it means Storm and Stress, but maybe it means Cabbage and Lettuce, I don't know).

January 12, 2007 at 06:39 PM · I mentioned earlier about the book "Art and Fear." I still think you would benefit greatly from reading it, as would anyone involved in the arts.

One part of the book talks about someone who goes into a music lesson and says "I always sound better in my head than what comes out on the instrument."

To which, the teacher responds - "what makes you think that ever goes away?!"

Another part of the book talks about how art is inherently imperfect because it is created by human beings. Human beings are not perfect.

It may be some consolation, or a source of depression, that you will always feel you can play better than you do.

It may also be some consolation that you can always work on your craft and get better.

If you don't quit, you might one day even be considered one of the "greats."

January 12, 2007 at 06:57 PM · Terry Hsu--thank you for your posts. I always learn from you. You have so many good things to say, and I think I will take a look at that book. too.

January 12, 2007 at 10:15 PM · I have my good friend Emily, a cellist, to thank for telling me about that book. It's written by a couple MFAs, over the span of 8 years! It's also a small book, only about 100 pages. It's compact, deep, and very inspirational.

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