Where do you find your inspiration?

August 10, 2007 at 05:15 AM · Do any of you ever find yourself in the situation where you come to the point of asking yourself "why am I doing this", or “why do I invest so much of my time and sacrifice so much of my life in the quest of perfection with the violin”? I must say there are times I find myself awash with great passion and unbridled motivation, and then there are those occasions where I experience nearly the opposite extreme. During these difficult moments I often find all I can do is push forward and for a time ignore my lack of passion for learning the violin, to ride out the storm as I wait for this passion to return. It is not that I ever cease to love the violin and the music. Rather it seems a bothersome questioning of what it is I really expect of life as I attempt to learn this instrument. Sometimes I seem to experience much confusion regarding the rightful place the violin should have in my life, and regarding the goals I have set before myself. I guess when I consider it some of the apathy I have come to know seems to stem from my rather lofty goals, goals I know full well I may never obtain. One of my goals, an ultimate goal you could say, is to obtain the level of a professional. Were I but a child, this would by no means be an unrealistic goal. However as an adult who has just turned 38 years of age and has spent a mere 6 months of life violin in hand, to have such a goal is proof positive that I have an elevator which does not quite make it all the way to the top (it is also proof positive as to just how much I have fallen for the charming little box we refer to as a violin). The pragmatic side of me would be inclined to agree that I may be a bit on the crazy side. But having said this, the human will is truly remarkable and time and again history has shown us what one may be capable of despite seemingly insurmountable odds. Regardless, I in life have always been a bit of a dreamer, a bit of a naïve romantic, so I press on to some extent blind to my own ambition but all the while with a lingering sense of the task I have set before myself. When this lingering doubt comes to the forefront I then begin to ask the question “why”? And then I wonder.

So, after having taken the long way around, what do you do when doubt creeps in and you begin to wonder?

Replies (22)

August 10, 2007 at 06:04 AM · Ugh, I know the feeling. I've managed to mostly shake off the huge existential doubts, but I still can get into some nasty slumps every now and then.

Have you ever seen the film "The Art of Violin"? I often watch that when I get into a rough patch and lose motivation, passion etc.--it's quite inspiring and immensely enjoyable!

August 10, 2007 at 12:01 PM · Hi,Chris, You certainly come with the prerequisite artist's temperament, I'll give you that. :) As a 38 yr.old more-or-less beginner, you have set yourself a very stringent and difficult goal, but who am I to say it isn't manageable? My suggestion would be you stop worrying/analyzing, which is very common among adult novices, by the way, and just do the work. "Sufficient unto the day", and all that. So if you can't play a decent C scale, learn one. Etc. Maybe keeping a log or running tally of what you do know that you will need to know will help you. Luck! Sue

August 10, 2007 at 12:31 PM · I started MUCH later than you, and I fully expect to meet my playing goals, if I don't die first. I'm not really worried about it, though, because I enjoy the process. I love to make music, and I love to find ways to identify weaknesses and overcome them.

Life is about enjoying the journey; I spent way too much time doggedly pursuing goals in the past. I know that if I just keep working in an intelligent and systematic manner, I will achieve as much as I can, and that's quite a bit. I won't be the next Heifetz, but I can be good enough that people will enjoy my playing (they already do)and I can make some money at it if I want to.

Even more important, if I concentrate on enJOYing the process, I will stay at it better and probably achieve more. To me, it's about making music rather than fulfilling a fantasy - even though I do have my dreams. I love what I'm doing, and I love getting better. What more could I ask?

August 10, 2007 at 02:05 PM · Believe it or not, I think everyone including the top echelon artists experiences some degree of

"self-doubt" (whether they admit it or not). I thinkthe ones that remain at the top are the ones with avery thick skin and associate themselves with people who can help them in positive ways.

Contrary to what you might think having a little doubt is actually good IF and ONLY IF you DON'T let that be converted to "depression". You have to be able to channel your doubt to an OPPORTUNITY. Doubt should equate to an opportunity for more learning, more growth, more excitement. I think people concerned with this issue shows shows that they are a wonderful,

contientious people who not only wants to improve for their own goals, but to be honest to their audiences and give them the best possible performance that you can.

It is actually only through this attitude that you can grow and improve. (I'd actually be more worried about people who are TOO confident in themselves because it is those types that end up declining in their bilities).

Sometimes, I get inspired from watching or listening to great musicians. Other times, my inspiration comes from other non-musicians. For a long time, I'd have inconsistencies in my motivation level to practice. So I turned to

Jean-Christophe Simond (a top level international

figure skating coach who produced a World Champion

figure skater this year). It's amazing how much you can learn from athlete coaches. He was able to inspire me to work hard, taught me how to control nerves under pressure, and regain much more confidence in myself. I still don't know how

he did this, but I would think that to produce a world champion athlete, he had to have some method. Obviously, Monsieur Simond cannot help directly with violin technique. But being able to have conversations with him about his coaching methods and issues regarding motivation, concentration, training regimin, etc all can be parallel issues for musicians. It was he who told me that it was 60% training and 40% psychology.

Check out this video on youtube on Coach

Jean-Christophe. He has some interesting thoughts

regarding training in general:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqsq7LG8pzs

Of course, whenever I see Ivry Gitlis for a lesson, social get together, business meeting, or concert, the inspiration comes too.

So my advice to you is to associate yourself with

positive-thinking people who you can learn from. Try to build relationships with other people whom are great in other disciplines (i.e. sports, dance, visual arts, etc) and develop a "support infrastructure" so you can all help each other. Success rarely comes by working alone. It's done as a team.

Also, try to invent practice methods for yourself that will give a more higher level of confidence in preparation for your performances.

I don't think my posting as a solution" or "answer" but hope it can give you a different perspective to think about, if you haven't thought of it this way.

August 10, 2007 at 03:03 PM · How about first answering your question with some realistic, inarguable benefits you can obtain from your violinistic studies? After that, one could consider what loftier and more challenging goals can be reached.

So, why take up the violin in your thirties? I can think of several objective benefits right off the bat:

1) It will improve your fine motor skills (regardless of how much they improve, they will nonetheless GROW beyond where they are without the fiddle).

2) It will probably help your mental self-perception, as you learn to observe yourself thinking ABOUT thinking, as you find practice tips and tricks that help you to sometimes circumvent whatever mental block might block this or that advance.

3) It may well help offset age-related mental deterioration, in the same way that doing crossword puzzles is now thought in some quarters to be a good Alzheimer-preventive vaccine. But the violin, being a more complex puzzle, is likely to be a stronger vaccine than crossword puzzles.

4) It will help you to appreciate great violin playing more specifically, on its technical merits (anyone can certainly appreciate it on musical ones, even without violinistic training).

5) It will familiarize you with the violin world - its heroes, villains and in-betweens, as well as its history and interaction with the compositional world.

6) It will, with every obstacle you overcome, give you added confidence for overcoming the next obstacle, and tools to do so.

I'm sure I could think of more, but those are a half-dozen reasons to play that jumped first to mind. As for more lofty goals, even without touching on the whole (dangerous) professional thing, there are so very many things anyone can do on the violin as an accomplished amateur, regardless of the age at which they start. For example:

1) You could get good enough to play for friends and family, on special occasions.

2) You could sit in with a local community orchestra, possibly even joining them full-time (which, in the case of community orchestras, always leaves time for work and family).

3) You could read chamber music with friends - something that just possibly is at least as much fun as a poker night.

4) You might get to a point where you could join a half-and-half orchestra (half pro and half amateur) which would allow you to play a greatly more extensive repertoire than option 2.

5) You might pass on your love of the instrument to children (or grandchildren) who might take it up at a young age and whose early musical involvement will almost certainly turn them into knowledgable and enthusiastic music lovers. In so doing, you'd be doing just about the greatest service possible to music and the musical community.

6) You might advance to a level where you could, for instance, take the fiddle with you on vacation and - purely for fun - busk for an hour or two.

August 10, 2007 at 03:37 PM · Hi Chris,

I too started much later than you, and likewise I've had peaks and troughs. The violin is demanding of time and dedication, returns are slow (compared perhaps to some other instruments - beginner guitarists/pianists can sound better sooner) and without regular practice you lose ability. However it is addictive. This site has kept me going through the tough times. Stephen Brivati and Sander Marcus often offer pearls of wisdom. As has Sung-Duk Song on this occasion. I copy them to a word document which I read from time to time when I haven't enough time to plough through these discussions! To encourage you, I suggest you get a good teacher you can hit it off with and start a programme of learning. It helps to see progress. I've completed my first year am still going on, have a loooong way to go but I'm better than I was. I cannot know how I will play in the future. Some things may always be beyond my ability, but not all 'professionals' are capable of everything. It will be enough for me as Emil has suggested to play well enough to give pleasure to family and friends, play at church eventually (many folks would love me/someone to) and just enjoy music making as an end in itself. I've learned tips here about practising that I never knew before which have helped enormously. The best must surely be to do at least 3-5 minutes of concentrated practice every day. Believe me, once you've had the fiddle in your hands for 5 minutes you probably won't want to put it away 'just yet'!

Enjoy, and welcome on board!!!!

August 10, 2007 at 04:21 PM · I always seem to get discouraged when I practice, because the thought of will I ever improve goes through my head constantly. I, too, watch The Art of Violin and while watching it I immediately fall in love with violin playing again (but then get discouraged once again when I don't sound like the professionals but it drives me to practice more). What also keeps me going is when I try to think, as painful as it is to practice now, if I continue it consistantly it will become less and less painful and more fun, and I will have more opportunities. So yeah...

August 10, 2007 at 06:15 PM · Also, in case fellow feeling makes things any easier, I know that when I pick up the fiddle to prepare for a concert or recording or whatever, especially after not touching it for weeks on end except to demonstrate this or that for a student, I sound godawful. And not wanting to hear the godawfulness, I then avoid practicing which, in turn, leads to still more godawfulness.

The thing which helps me over this vicious loop (or "downward spiral", I should more accurately say) is to set a short-term, highly specific and not overly demanding goal for myself. Such as "I will now play every scale from A through G sharp majors in sequence, rapidly." (This, incidentally, helps my left hand and forearm feel limbered up though it does nothing at all for intonation. For intonation, I use something else. The trick is to use any given practice method towards an appropriate, specific end.) I try to set myself no goal that is too subjective, though (e.g. "I will now play a four octave G major scale with a beautiful sound and imperceptible bow changes") as that will make me constantly second-guess myself rather than executing the task in question.

Enough of the short-term, specific and goal-oriented tasks and I find the old, familiar feeling flooding back into my hands. Generally, an hour or two of these short jumps - scales, arpeggios, tricky passages from assorted works - and my hands feel like they're coming back into form after even a month off. Two or three consecutive days of such violinistic physical therapy, and the hands ACTUALLY are back in form, rather than merely feeling that way.

Baby steps all the way, in short, and trackable, quantifiable ones.

August 10, 2007 at 06:07 PM · Ditto Sue...

Every year I plant a garden--an extensive garden--uh, an extensive garden. Between freezes, droughts, groundhogs, deer, birds, slugs, fungus; having to hoe, weed, nurture, stomp my foot, scream at God (he screams back), I get what's left.

And I am completely smitten by violin being a lot older than you. What I do when the inevitable doubts and troughs slip in, is to respect them, accommodate them for a generous listen, then man-handle them if I have to, to get refocused.

And I set my goals:

1. There is a world of music beyond Paganini's Concerto number one, that actually, people relate to more personally and maybe even affectionately.

2. It is the simple things and music, that persist in life. Playing simpler things beautifully is maybe more rewarding than stumbling through someone else's repertoire expectations, especially when they may be a pipe dream in some ways. But I still challenge myself to improve using them....

3. Simpler 'does not' mean less sophisticated. It takes a master to play the slow movement from Pathetique Sonata above and beyond, invoking the richness and subtleness of ebbing phrases. I'm not even that master, but have knocked on the door a few times. And it's awesome.

4. Music should be like love--always leaving you wanting a little more.

5. When I work on something too difficult, I reward myself by playing something beautiful--use it--it works.

6. Music is one of those passions of life that must fall under the purview of the sculptor. Though we most often fail in molding other things, music is one of those mastery levels of the same that is a tool for both personal and social satisfaction. Approaching it blindly is like Prometheus giving the fire back realizing it is hot--and it is. (Sorry, I've been reading Carl Sagan again).

7. First and foremost, just shoot for basic competency of a core of expectations as a starting point. The expectations are easy to find and define and are generally, well one of the few things in violin that are fairly agreed on. And just getting to basic well done competency is where to put your current ending goal.

8. Get a program, stick with it, and don't look back--it's a waste of time.

August 10, 2007 at 06:34 PM · *Random outburst:*

Emil says: "especially after not touching it for weeks on end...I sound godawful. And not wanting to hear the godawfulness, I then avoid practicing which, in turn, leads to still more godawfulness."

GOOD GOD I know what that feels like! Been feeling it all lazy pointless boring summer in fact!! Maybe I'll try some baby steps today myself...

*Random outburst ends here.*

August 10, 2007 at 06:46 PM · Mara's lying--she's getting ready to do something really spectacular I bet--and in gypsy garb! Baby steps indeed--yeah, sure... ;)...

August 10, 2007 at 07:10 PM · To all,

Wow, where to I start? Thank you all so much for taking the time to reply, and for sending replies that must have taken some time to put together. I am touched and I have to say that this site is so incredible and the people who frequent it are very definitely a special bunch. Your words have been a great source of inspiration, and your advice invaluable.

All things considered, the process of learning the violin has been wonderful. However, when I began this journey I was immediately met with a debilitating injury, one that prevented me from being able to practice much at all for a couple of months. Not one to be put off, I worked through the injury with my orthopedic surgeon and am now able to play largely without pain (touch wood). Since then I have progressed at a decent rate, and am now in the process of determining my most productive practice routine, one that fits in with my responsibilities as a husband and father of two, and with my professional obligations. My goal is to be able to set aside 3 hrs/day for serious practice. This would entail 2 hours in the morning (an hour before and after getting prepared for the day), a half-hour at noon and another half-hour in the evening. Having grown up on a farm I am accustomed to beginning my days very early in the morning (years of conditioning prevents me from being able to sleep in no matter how hard I try). I have a full hour available at mid-day for my lunch, half of which can be used to practice, and finding a half-hour in the evening is usually not a problem once the kids are tucked in for the night. However, I realize full well that sleep is vitally important to the process of development (as it seems the mind does much work in helping us improve while we slumber), so I try to not encroach upon my need for sleep any more than necessary by turning in at a decent hour. In short, I believe sacrificing much-needed sleep for the sake of more practice time to be very counterproductive. So, if anything, the evening’s session may at times be compromised. However, I can always make up for this on the next evening, or some time the following day. I also think keeping a log is vital if one is to remain disciplined and on track, and to set in place the steps, the little week-by-week goals, that will hopefully one day lead to the final goal.

But, this is not the whole story and while the above is a very practical plan, a version of which anyone with a definite purpose would need, I am finding that there is a greater and less concrete element to the journey. I have come to realize that the difficulty, the malaise, I have experienced as of late has been largely due to the loneliness I have felt on the journey. Other than lessons on Saturday morning for a half an hour, I am entirely on my own. I do have a great instructor, but only for 30 minutes a week. That leaves the other 10,050 minutes free of social interaction with respect to my love for the violin and my quest to learn the instrument. It is a very lonely feeling. I do frequent v.com quite a lot and this does help, as I am able to converse with others who share in the same passion. But, it would be nice to have some personal contact with others who share in my passion for learning the violin. I guess this one element accounts for the bulk of the struggle I have come to know. However, meeting the personal challenges along the way has also become something of a richly rewarding experience in and of itself and a great opportunity for growth. I have felt the need to look within for resolve to press on, not having much opportunity to share in this with others.

As to why it is that I aspire to the level of a professional, there are many reasons. First off, I never finished school and while I do work as an engineer (mechanical), I have come into the profession by experience, and by grit. I am a product of hands-on education and an inquisitive mind, and I would be negligent were I to leave out the most important element of all, that I am a product of a grace. I have been given the opportunity to obtain and hold a profession that affords me the ability to support my family, all the while lacking the requisite formal education. This is a gift. But, I have a heart that yearns for more, one that yearns to live out the desires placed therein. In my workaday world, I am very much a fish out of water. I have been able to morph into the role my occupation requires, but it is not my true calling. What carries me on is the needs of my family and the relationships I have among those I interact with in my daily life. Relationships mean the most in life, and relationships are that which upon all else hinges- relationships with others, within our self and with God. Without this, music is noise.

But, I have gotten off track. Having never finished school, obtaining the level of a professional is a personal goal. Whether or not I ever actually become a professional is another matter altogether. However, I’d like to become proficient enough to have the opportunity. I just want what we all do, I guess, and that is to live out the desires of my heart. I love music and I have come to learn that with respect to music merely being a spectator (a listener) is not enough. So much of what goes on within desperately needs an outlet. For some this need is met in writing, for others the need is met in visual art (be it painting, photography or sculpture), but for me the need is met most completely in the audible art of music. This is my outlet.

Thanks again to all, take care.

Chris

August 10, 2007 at 07:06 PM · (Edit: Ugh, I got interrupted and my reply to Albert thus made no sense.)

August 10, 2007 at 07:44 PM · Albert,

I forgot to mention one other thing. I also used to plant a large vegetable garden (about 75 feet by 100 feet), and cared for it with a modest assortment of hand tools. I had an old Ferguson TO-20 that I used to plow the garden in the fall and for initial spring tilling, but all else was done by hand. Tending my garden was the most therapeutic activity I have ever known, and reminiscent of my youth as my parents had a much larger garden then and we raised all of our own food. My life growing up was something of a dream, and any experience that gives me a taste of those days is precious indeed.

Moving into town a couple of years ago put an end to my very large garden, for now, but I will have one again some day. I do dearly miss the experience. However, I also now have more time for other things (the violin, for one).

Chris

August 10, 2007 at 10:08 PM · A segment of the human condition is to become restless with the progression of our lives.

These thoughts are quite common to all living beings.These conditions of life must be dealt with and realized that they are just a brief segment of our very short life on earth.

When you are about to give up JUST LISTEN to your favourite players intently.Eventually,music becomes an intrinsic part of your being.

You will learn by listening and replicating what you hear.

It's a growth experience that does not stop until you stop.........

August 11, 2007 at 06:50 AM · To be quite honest, the only time in my life I had ‘storm of doubt’ was when I was in law school, which I went completely on my own choice and for the right reason (to learn but not to get rich). I had doubts because I had no passion for it, even though I’m really glad I did it because I did learn a ton about the law, the society, human nature and most of all, about myself. When it comes to violin, once in a while, I would have doubt about how good I'll ever be but I quickly tell myself this is a meaningless question because I'm not competing against anyone other than myself.

Chris, maybe I'm missing something here, but I really wonder how can one have serious doubts about doing something one has great passion for doing it? Think about it, if you love someone that you think is truly amazing, how can you be honestly asking questions such as "why am I doing this", or “why do I invest so much of my time and sacrifice so much of my life in being with him/her”?

We doubt about what we are doing something or acting passionately because we’ve sensed something is not right: Is the passion over-consuming? Does it make us feel emotionally not so solid? Does it compete too much with other passions/interests/values we have? Is our passion motivated by something unacceptable? ...

I don’t know the answer, just a lot of questions. But I do ask myself why I invest so much in the violin – I do this a lot, not so much as a matter of doubt, but as a matter of self-examination: I need to be able to account for what I do and how I should be. I know my answer and I know where my inspirations come from. They come from the beautiful music I listen to everyday, my wonderful and demanding teacher who keeps me on my toes, the violin friends and teachers at V.com that touch me and remind me that the greatness of people’s knowledge and heart are beyond my imagination. I’m also of course greatly inspired by the musical and technical challenges of violin playing themselves. I don’t know about others, I find practice itself or any structured, detailed hard work in and of themselves brings me joy and happiness. The positive result I receive is icing on the cake.

In short, I don’t have doubt because this is such an awesome journey I wouldn't want it any other way. I will start to doubt if I question the validity of my passion or if I feel somewhat imbalanced...

August 11, 2007 at 11:34 AM · I wonder about a "quest for perfection on the violin." If I were engaged in such a quest for perfection, on anything, that would be a source of big-time doubt. I'm not sure when I stopped being a perfectionist, I think it was some time in late high school or early college, when I hit my academic limitations in a big way for the first time. Before that, in a child's view, I had viewed perfection as something actually achievable--after all, I regularly got 100's on tests.

It's more motivating for me as an adult to strive for excellence than perfection. You can define excellence for yourself, in a personal way, and work it into your own goals. Perfectionism, on the other hand, can drive you crazy and sap your energy.

August 11, 2007 at 12:18 PM · There's a great quote here that's relevant. It's by (of all people) Vince Lombardi, the legendary Green Bay Packer football coach:

"We will chase perfection. While perfection cannot be attained, we will catch excellence."

August 11, 2007 at 12:32 PM · That makes it sound like excellence is a disease. Expose me please!

Seriously though, I like where this discussion is heading. I've always found it difficult to find a happy medium between perfectionism and high standards and allowing time for a learning process. Seems that focusing on one side (playing as well as possible, for instance) makes me forget about the other. In this case, I become impatient and intolerant of errors. I feel like I can't play anywhere near the standard I expect. I lose confidence. If I concentrate of the process, reminding myself that I need time to digest everything I'm learning, and that a performance is also part of the learning process, I end up losing track of my concrete goals and feeling unprepared for situations where I have to 'bring it'.

The perfect balance is an extremely elusive thing for me. It relates a lot to a blog Kimberlee wrote a few days ago about searching for her own voice. At the moment, I feel like the crucial element is trust: trust in the process; trust that I will achieve the goals I set; and trust that my problems will lessen in time. Add discipline and a practice routine that targets these areas, and excellence should follow, if I let it.

Although, to open up another can of worms, how do we define what excellence is? Perfection is relatively easy, when you think about it. Perfection can be measured by what it is not. Perfection is lack of mistakes - of shortcomings. Excellence is a lot more slippery. You can't pin it down. How will I know that what I consider excellent is good enough? Again, trust.

Pursuit of excellence is much more positivistic than pursuit of perfection. Excellence is a measure of what is good, rather than a lack of what is less than good. (Semantics? Not quite sure). But because it's less definite, it actually requires more guts to go down that path. For me, at least.

August 11, 2007 at 12:55 PM · Hi, Megan: Yes that quote makes excellence sound like a disease, but that's what he said - and I want to catch it, too.

Perfection is an ideal to strive for, but - as mere, mortal human beings - we are likely to attain it only on rare occasions, if ever. And people get psychologically beaten up when they consider "perfection" as equivalent to competence or excellence or self worth. If your self-worth and sense of competence and having achieved excellence depends on STRIVING for perfection, that's fine. But if your self-worth depends on actually achieving perfection in reality, you will never have self-esteem, and will forever be in your own, self-constructed, everpresent doghouse. That, I think, is the genius of Lombardi's quote.

Cordially, Sandy

August 11, 2007 at 01:06 PM · So, the quote's really about acceptance, isn't it? We strive for perfection while accepting that the ends are more a mirage than anything else, and realise that what we achieve through pursuing these ideals (i.e. excellence) is more than worthy in itself.

August 11, 2007 at 02:38 PM · Christopher Parkening has a bit in his classical guitar lesson book on the subject of excellence. Following is what he has to say on the subject:

"I suggest that you pursue a commitment to personal excellence rather than success, based on your own God-given potential. Success and excellence are often competing ideals. Being successful does not necessarily mean you will be excellent, and being excellent does not necessarily mean you will be successful. Success is attaining or achieving cultural goals, which elevates one’s importance in the society in which he lives. Excellence is the pursuit of quality in one’s work and effort, whether the culture recognizes it or not. I once asked Segovia how many hours a day he practiced. He responded, “Christopher, I practice 2 ½ hours in the morning and 2 ½ hours every afternoon.” I thought to myself, “If Segovia needs to practice five hours every day, how much more do I need to practice?”

Success seeks status, power, prestige, wealth and privilege. Excellence is internal – seeking satisfaction in having done your best. Success is external – how you have done in comparison to others. Excellence is how you have done in relation to your own potential. For me, success seeks to please men, but excellence seeks to please God.

Success grants its rewards to a few, but is the dream of the multitudes. Excellence is available to all, but is accepted only by a few. Success engenders a fantasy and a compulsive groping for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Excellence brings us down to reality with a deep gratitude for the promise of joy when we do our best. Excellence cultivates principles, character and integrity. Success may be cheap, and you can take shortcuts to get there. You will pay the full price for excellence; it is never discounted. Excellence will always cost you everything, but it is the most lasting and rewarding ideal. What drives you – success or excellence?"

Now, Christopher Parkening is a highly successful classical guitarist, probably the most in-demand classical guitarist today. But, at the core of his success is a lack of striving to attain success. Rather he strives for excellence. Maybe I need to reframe my goals, a commitment to personal excellence, and let the path lead where it may.

Thanks again to all who have contributed, and thank you Yixi for your highly insightful comments. When it comes to things of an emotional nature I am at times a very fickle being, my emotions ranging from one extreme to another and back again, but I never lose my love of the music, I only doubt my own ability. Perfection is unattainable, but excellence lies within grasp for us all.

Chris

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