Auditions & Nerves = Fight vs. Flight?

September 25, 2008 at 04:49 PM · We just had seating auditions. I used to be concertmaster, now I'm not. That's always a bummer, but it doesn't really bother me. The person who was my standpartner took over, and she is amazing, she totally deserves it (yes, she's Asian, I'm not... jk). Please, everyone understand this post is not about jealousy!

Now, auditions. It's like fight vs. flight for me. That word, those circumstances, just triggers a huge reaction that makes me EXTREMELY nervous. I've been working on nerves for a LONG time, and Buri's post about the 5 Whys has been very helpful. However, I still can't stop the reaction. I discovered through 5 Whys that I hate not being in absolute control of my playing (if you get my meaning) especially when it "really counts." I have tremendous external pressure from family, making my teachers proud, etc. I also have this unimaginable internal pressure to surpass all others, get an A+, and just be the best. Always.

I want to play for a living. This is part of that living. I have got to get over these things... but it's like an uncontrollable monster that rears its head during the most important times.

Help!

Should I just do it over and over to try to desensitize? Wouldn't that make me backtrack if I didn't get the desired results? I've been doing energy work with my violin professor. However beneficial it is, it doesn't stick with me when it really counts. I've psychologically overcome the feeling that all my bad past experiences performing in recitals are my fault. (I had to play Bach Partita in E Major, Preludio, before any exercises in 4th position...) But this drive to be the best is so intense that it has taken over!

Argh. I really don't want to go the beta-blocker route.

Replies (40)

September 25, 2008 at 09:08 PM · You're no newbie, you've tried a lot of stuff. Would now be the time to work with a sports psychologist? Because from the post, its probably all the other stuff - that isn't to do with playing, technique, atmosphere etc - but more to do with expectation, obligation, identity, that is interfering with you performing at your best.

September 25, 2008 at 09:05 PM · Desensitizing is probably the best option and only option, but I'm not sure anyone here can guarantee anything that will work consistently because your body and your emotions are doing exactly what they evolved to do. Our ancestors that didn't have a reliable fight-or-flight mechanism died out. If you wish to make a living at it, just remember that the pressure will not get less intense. Now you must please your parents and beat your friends. Later, your ability to pay your mortgage, eat, or pass your degree recital will be a stake. It will be a job audition you traveled across the country for and paid big bucks for a ticket.

Keep playing and practicing, but consider this road wisely. It's no picnic for those not 100% suited to the stage.

September 25, 2008 at 09:05 PM · My blood pressure elevated just reading your post. I remember being right where you are and feeling the pressure too. Only now I realize the pressure wasn't from around me, it came from me.

I vividly remember the day I lost my CM chair in my early college days. Once I made CM I said to myself"alright, I must be the best" only to have it swept away by an incoming freshman a couple of semesters later. I didn't take it as well as you seem to be. I felt humiliated when the conductor came in at the start of the rehearsal and gave her a big hug. I couldn't feel more insignificant and hopeless if I had been kicked out of the orchestra all together. It sure felt like a kick in the stomach at the time and it brings back the sensation when I think of it. But honestly, I don't know where I would've been these days if I hadn't gone through this sort of turbulence.

There is a lot of rejection out there for us. Must be a sadist to go out looking for it the way we do but then again no one can understand the self satisfaction of "making it."

There is only one thing that can keep you sane in this business. No, it's not yoga, it's not deep breathing exercises, although all these things help. The most important thing is to always love the music and always place it first. There are so many violinists surrounding us that are on our level that we could drive ourselves crazy trying to put ourselves in numerical order of who's best. Try focusing on the contribution you make. Sometimes it will feel big, but most of the time it will feel insignificant. Stress will come and go. Pull yourself away from negative thoughts and focus on doing what you love.

September 26, 2008 at 12:42 AM · Tasha, you mentioned your "bad past experiences performing in recitals." I can relate. Can't we all? There's probably not a serious music student who doesn't wish he or she could go back and re-do a recital -- or a few of them.

What helped me was something a professor said during the second year of my bachelor degree program: "If you're driving and have a collision, one of the best ways to start mastering your fear is to drive again and not have a collision."

I tried applying this to recitals. If I'd had an unpleasant experience earlier, the thing to do was to go back on stage at the next opportunity and play another recital -- and not have that unpleasant experience. This worked. I knew I could play the material successfully, because I'd played it many times before on my own. Very soon, I, of all persons, actually sought as many opportunities as I could to be in recitals.

Even though the keyed-up, nervous feeling before performing was still there, now it would disappear very soon as I got into the performance. Delivery got noticeably better. This gave me encouragement. But I also had to face up to some ego problems. When I could see that the recital was mainly about the music -- not just about me, me, me -- this helped still further.

I don't know you. But the "unimaginable internal pressure" you refer to "to surpass all others … and just be the best" -- a "drive … so intense that it has taken over" -- could be a danger signal. If you score 100 on a test, will you be happy only if everyone else in the class scores 99 or less? If everyone else gets 100, too, who's the best?

This makes me think of what one fellow (I don't recall the name -- anyone else here know?) replied when asked who he thought was the world's greatest pianist. He said something like this: "There's no such thing. That's all relative, a matter of opinion. No one player has it all."

I'm also reminded of what one Interlochen student said some years back. This appeared, possibly, in LIFE magazine. The remark was along these lines: "You get respect here. But if you're good, nobody makes a big deal over you, because so many others here are good, too."

September 26, 2008 at 01:58 AM · I know this probably won't help,

but

you are always your worst critique

cm chairs come and go

play an audition like you're doing it at home

most likely the people you're auditioning for have been in your position before, and they can understand nerves.

September 26, 2008 at 06:16 AM · Try to organise some recitals where you can pick a technically underdemanding repetoire that you feel completely at home and at ease with.Recital nerves are often focused on that one bar that is difficult or that spot where ones memory fails.A sense of success creates success and even if you merely play to a group of relatives and friends without feeling tense and nervous it will be a nbeginning.

September 26, 2008 at 11:24 AM · Try to tackle the problem in other areas of your life, and it may spill over. I had nerves like this that were so bad I never even considered playing for a living, I just couldn't face the thought of performing regularly.

It helped me, though, in my mid-late 20's, to work on public speaking for my non-music career. I took a speaking class, I joined Toastmasters, I gave my PhD thesis talk in a number of different venues. My increased comfort in front of an audience spilled over into music. I became CM for a couple of concerts of the university orchestra where I was playing for the first time in my life (I'd never even led a section before in high school, youth orchestra, or college).

I still don't like auditions, but who does? Now at least I can get through them without feeling physically sick.

September 26, 2008 at 12:47 PM · Good advice so far.

Let me suggest an additional option. Contact your local chapter of ASCH (The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis). This is a professional society (NOT stage hypnotists) made up of physicians, psychologists, and dentists who use clinical hypnosis as a professional tool in their respective practices. You'll get a list of competent and experienced professionals (probably among the list of psychologists) who use clinical hypnosis in their practice. This kind of problem is something many of them deal with on a routine basis.

And don't give up on yourself.

Cordially, Sandy

September 26, 2008 at 01:28 PM · fight or flight is probably as expected, as long as we do not go to the extreme of do or die, as in, we must do something at certain level or else. there we are playing god, almost setting ourselves up to fail most of the times.

the nature of the beast is such that one's self worth seemingly depends on the outcomes of music performances at monthly, weekly or even daily basis. yet, no one is born to deal with that level of intense trauma with normal mentation. for instance, some of the pro golfers i know relate that it is tough out there because unless you are the leader, no one seems to cheer you on,,,

to some degree, everyone can use some additional guidance. military personnelles get prof debriefing, athletes get advice from sports psy as mentioned by sharelle, executives use life coaching/mentoring, companies establish a board with people with more experiences, presidents use astrologers, kids get hugs and kisses from parents,,, where do musicians turn to for guidance and comfort? marina and scott have shared some most helpful opinions based on personal experiences. they are logical for the long term perspective and makes a lot of sense in retrospect, but is it reassuring enough to someone burning with problems at hand? i don't know.

i see from tasha's profile that she follows cesar millan's work with dogs with behavior problems. to me, the show is about dogs who want to be dogs whose owner want them to be humans. cesar plays the role of the dog trainer to train the owners (by owners i mean the humans even though it may not be that clear in some situations). he plays the role well because he is talented in psychology. he makes it look easy because he is a great clinician and diagnostian.

for musicians with issues, it seems quite important to find fitting pro help, someone who can help newcomers to answer some basic questions. (in fact, i think that is a field that some of you may want to consider to develop):

1. are my goals realistic based on my psych profile and skill level?

i understand there may seems to be a dilemma putting an artist and a realist into one, but in this modern age, we may need to draw some lines, as hinted by scott...

2. if so, what do i need to learn to break through to the next level?

as some have already expressed, it is probably not about playing abilities anymore. it is my opinion, for the mass, beyond certain high level of performance, they can't tell A from B, what separate A and B are other issues or factors,,,what are they in your case?

3. who is going to teach me and guide me through that?

it is like having a suspicion of cancer and choosing between going to a community hospital or a national specialist. the community hospital is only 5 mins drive and the folks are darn friendly...

4. do i have a list of back-up plans?

who want to think about them in the pursuit of our dream, the one and only? therefore, it should come from someone else who has been there and done that.

etc. etc. etc

i would like to imagine tasha may have under-estimated her ability to deal with stress having gone through this far successfully with her career. after each setback, things may blow out of proportion but with time, we adapt, adjust and keeping going.

good luck.

September 26, 2008 at 01:37 PM · One of my friends used to say that, as performer, what's important is not how much you have, but how much you have left under the pressure. A cold statement but true in some senses.

A good car test is to put car under extreme conditions and see how it performs, we might need to do that more often when we practice. Play for people a lot, Play for people who you feel uncomfortable play in front of, like someone who are usually critical of everything, or some of your peer. Preparing yourself for the stress situation you will be in.

The weak link on our playing normally goes bad first, music with a difficult shifts, delicate staccato or fast runs. Those are the stress creators.

September 26, 2008 at 02:37 PM · You learn more from failing than winning. Try to see this as a learning experience and not a crisis. You will get another chance if not here somewhere else. Remember it is not the end of the world...

Check out any book by Don Greene they are rich with ideas...

September 26, 2008 at 03:00 PM · This works beautifully. It was recommended to me by one of the major violinists.

Since I got mine he's added two new tracks for

music tests and auditions. Perfect.

http://www.sambrown.co.uk/

September 26, 2008 at 02:56 PM · Printing this thread out and reading it in advance before playing will remind you and freshen up the fact of us who are routing for you, cheering you on.

*Eddy Rickenbacker once said, "Courge is doing what you are really afraid to do but you get up and do it anyway. where there is no fear there can be no courage.

Each time you get up and play, and we here at v.com know what you endure to play, strengthens others who have the same beast to fight. persons like you always are an encouragement for me. I was diagnosed with a severe panic/anxiety disorder 24 years ago and is what caused me to stop playing the violin. This October will be one year that I've been relearning the violin. One of the reasons I can endure my nerves before playing, are from thinking about persons like you that I personaly know and it gives me enough Umph to get up and do it! and afterward I feel so, so proud of my self.

Kind Regards,

royce

September 26, 2008 at 03:32 PM · i think we are looking at violin playing at a different level here, where courage, stamina and passion are not really questionable any more.

here is a cold, hard scenario to think about:

lets say i aim to achieve very high in something i truly love. after 10-20 years of countless hours of practice, hundreds of competitive situations where i play my heart out, i never win even once and my dream is to win. to not win will not make me happy, as simple as that.

it is a very tough reality to deal with,,,i want something, i get something else,,,for a long, long time, not even talking about opportunity cost.

the best chance imo is to get the know-how to show me how to... working on stress management is great but we should not overlook its inadequacy that it does not factor in how my competitors do to gain their upper hand... you can navigate your boat but can't control the tide.

it may take a while for me to accept the fact that i have given my best, therefore i accept the outcomes and i love what i do and where i am. "a while" to some is couple years, and to others, a whole life time.

September 26, 2008 at 03:28 PM · Hi,

I know how you feel. For me, I can completely relate to Marina's post. I feel the same way and am facing the point she made so well in her last paragraph. Since I couldn't say as well as she did, I will simply say that with different words I would share the same thought. I find great release in focusing on the things she mentions.

Cheers!

September 26, 2008 at 05:15 PM · There's a quotation somewhere by Jascha Heifetz who said something to the effect that when you practice, you have to give 120% concentration, because you're going to lose concentration during a performance because of many factors (such as nervousness).

Just a thought.

Sandy

September 26, 2008 at 05:48 PM · Did you ever play anyplace where the thought of ranking you would never even occur to anybody, to see if the feelings you have there carry over into your regular playing?

September 26, 2008 at 10:00 PM · Let me quickly say how grateful I am to everyone who has responded. I've read them all, absorbed them, and have lots to think about. I can't properly express my appreciation online, but truly...

Thanks everyone.

September 27, 2008 at 04:22 AM · You're taking it gracefully, indeed. Still, I am getting the sense that you think you were equally deserving, but sabotaged by nerves. Otherwise, why mention it. Could that be accurate? If so, perhaps you can channel it.

Per The Inner Game of Music, the ideal scenario would be not to micromanage yourself with "helpful" thoughts. However, that's easier said than done, so if you're going to think while performing, here are some thoughts that have helped me tremendously:

Just before a competition, I had a very exciting rehearsal with my accompanist where I felt my technique and my enjoyment of the piece were finally approaching one another. When I got on stage, I told myself and really believed that there was no fundamental difference between one performance and the other.

Second thought: people generally are rooting for you to succeed. They usually only root for you to fail in Hollywood.

One idea that actually just occurred to me would be to visualize the worst possible outcome (momentary embarrassment? Yes; the sun exploding and ending life as we know it? Definitely not), or to give yourself permission -- only once -- to act out all the mistakes you are afraid of making.

September 27, 2008 at 11:44 AM · I just looked at your profile and I noticed that you say your passion is teaching. But that if you got over your performance anxiety maybe your passion would be performing.

This is just my opinion, and I don't speak for anyone else, but I think that teachers contribute more than performers. It's like that saying, if you give a man a fish, he eats for a day, but if you teach him to fish, he eats for a lifetime. Performances are ephemeral, but if you teach people to make music themselves, they have it for a lifetime too.

I'm wondering why, if you already have this passion and love for teaching, you made that comment about performance. Are you trying to force a passion that just isn't there? Could that be contributing to the overwhelming nerves?

September 27, 2008 at 12:33 PM · there is a saying that goes like this...

those who can, do; those who can't, teach.

i say, to each his (her) own,,,:)

September 27, 2008 at 12:50 PM · I've always been told I'm an excellent teacher, especially given how little years of it I have on my resume. I like teaching very much, it's what I do for a living, so it's my passion.

What got me to play violin? Wanting to play it, not teach it. Why isn't playing my passion? Because every time I perform or audition, I have that nerves monster rear its head.

Make sense?

September 27, 2008 at 01:32 PM · Al, I've heard that saying, but I disagree with it. And, I think that saying is disrespectful towards teachers and students (I don't mean that you are being disrespectful, Al, just that the saying is).

I'm thinking of a philosophy attributed to Kodaly, that "only the best is good enough for a child." The last quality we would want in those who are teaching children is that they are teaching only because they "can't" do anything else, and that they see teaching as some kind of a consolation prize.

Tasha, actually no, saying that you want to play violin, not teach it, doesn't make much sense to me. Why would you see playing violin and teaching it as being in opposition rather than being complementary?

I don't know you, so I'm only guessing and offering a suggestion, which could be way off-base. But my point is that performing and all the associated junk that goes with it(auditioning, etc.) appears to be bringing you more misery and stress than joy. So, in spite of what everyone says you are supposed to want as a violinist, is it possible that performing is not really the great love and passion of your life? And if so, why is that not okay?

September 27, 2008 at 02:15 PM · karen, i am more with to each his/her own:) that a person should find a niche/zone that is appropriate.

i don't particularly put more weight on one over another when it comes to performer vs teacher, because? to each his/her own:) there are about 1000 merits on the performer side vs 1000 merits on the teacher side,,,so a tie. say a kid was inspired to start violin by a performer and went far because of a teacher, looking back, who deserves more credit? silly point right?

but, i do think for people like tasha who need that special touch to learn the craft and mentation of being a great performer, it is probably the right approach to find a teacher who is or have been a great performer. it is probably easier to relate with that arrangement.

but then again, with delay, not particularly known as a great performer herself, and we know the rest of the story,,,

still, my bias is that with a special problem, better to go with a specialist.

September 27, 2008 at 02:59 PM · My daughter's first serious teacher, with whom she studied for 8 years, had a fine pedigree (top conservatories, the most famous of the famous teachers.) Because of performance nerves he ended up having a long, successful career as a teacher for pre-college kids. Turned out that he had a special talent for teaching. (I will note that his own most-famous teachers, whose names are household words to all of you, were also career pedagogues, not performers.) So instead of being just another violinist in another orchestra or ensemble, he has helped hundreds of kids realize their potential. Many kids in his studio have gone on to become professionals, studying at the best conservatories. Many go on to other careers, but with a high degree of proficiency and love for classical music. So this person, who has no biological children, has a huge legacy of devoted former students. I think that's a life well-spent.

September 27, 2008 at 03:40 PM · There's an old saying that is usualy taken out of context; A true teacher (really the true masters) are forever the student in the since that they know that learning, such as the violin, is infinite. We can never learn all that there is to learn (unlike the those that can.. do because it begins and ends where they can nolonger preoceed any further). Teachers over and over have told me, "I think I learned more today than my students did!"

There are exceptions as well...

September 27, 2008 at 04:24 PM · Ask any teacher (in almost any subject or area) when they first truly learned their area in depth, and most will tell you that it was when they started teaching. Teaching really is an almost sacred calling, especially teaching something like violin playing (which Heifetz called "a perishable art").

Sandy

September 27, 2008 at 04:34 PM · if someone is as talented in performing as in teaching, what would that person choose in his/her physical prime? it is safe to assume that based on history which is built on human nature, most would have preferred to go with performing, at least at first. ( people on v.com may think otherwise and it is noted. ) this routine is natural, observed in all other professions. tony blair coming over the pond to teach in a us university. bell talking about teaching in IU... because they are great teachers? dunno/maybe, but many simply want to hear them because of their experiences/perspectives.

i am certainly not knocking teaching as a profession. in fact, in a previous post on v.com somewhere, i have lamented that i do not understand why some of the smart violin people do not get involved with teaching earlier, knowing full well that it is the route they almost have to take eventually. why not start to network, build the studio as soon/early as possible? why not start to recondition one's sense of reality earlier to avoid the cultural shock later?

why? one thing. there is glamor with being on stage, the rush, the exhilation,,,it is alluring. no kids in harlem plays ball in anticipation of being a bench warmer. it is THE reason one starts violin lesson for most folks, that one day i may be able to shine like a star. well, i know personally a tchaikovsky comp winner who has problem shining after that crowning achievement. it is hardly a singular incident, is it not?

i think there are so many reasons why certain teachers are great. but to you, the best one is someone who truly undertstands your dream, your strengths, your weaknesses, has the faith that you can do better, has the know-hows to help guide you in that direction...

it is like a marriage except you have to pay for the service.

September 27, 2008 at 05:22 PM · Al,

I like how you've put the allure of performing.

Karen,

As Al stated, my attraction to the violin when I first started to was to play it, not teach it. Now that I'm all grown up, I think very highly of performers who are also teachers, because the two are so complimentary, and reinforce each other. My passion is teaching at the moment. That's perfectly alright with me, except that I also want to be a performer. However, uncontrollable body reactions prevent me from realizing that dream. It's just a matter of where my focus is. At the moment, it's on teaching. I'd like to split it about equally between playing and teaching.

I am in no way bashing teachers. I don't promote the "Those who can't play, teach" phrase.

September 27, 2008 at 06:45 PM · Al, it's not observed in all other professions, not even sure it is in this one. Would you rather graduate and set up a private practice, or graduate and become a teacher at your university? What you're really talking about is notoriety.

September 27, 2008 at 06:14 PM · "it is THE reason one starts violin lesson for most folks, that one day i may be able to shine like a star. "

Really? I guess that could be why I am having trouble expressing myself in this thread, because that wasn't the reason at all that I started violin lessons. It may be that I just don't "get it."

But in any case, I'm not sure why it matters what attracted a person to the violin in the first place. Kids have all kinds of motivations--good, bad, and indifferent--and a lot of those had to do with their parents anyway. Doesn't it matter more what attracts you right now?

I can't really pretend to understand the allure of performing (I don't hate it anymore, but still, all things considered, l'd rather go to the dentist). But I'm wondering if you could explain it in terms that someone like me could understand. For you, is it something about communicating with an audience? Or about love, as Buri has hinted at?

Maybe if you could get in touch with, and name and own, those aspects that make you want to perform now (as opposed to when you first started playing), and then really feel them in your body, it would help you keep a lid on the nerves.

September 27, 2008 at 06:59 PM · Karen, the allure of performing is the allure of being the center of attention and being told how wonderful you are. One of the reasons for teaching later on might be that you become embarassed by your situation :)

September 27, 2008 at 08:43 PM · For me, the reason for playing is that it enables me to be a medium for the music, to be less bothered by self, and to enjoy music together with people listening.

An audition puts this on its head. In auditions, I used the music to show off how good I am, and that feels wrong. That was one of the reasons for audition stress in my case.

September 27, 2008 at 08:58 PM · A perfomer once said about performing and perfomers "You need to do it, and they need to hear it." About the needing to do it part, after I work something up, I feel a need to present it somehow, but performing in itself isn't alluring to me. I don't need to be told how wonderful I am. I already know :))

September 27, 2008 at 09:20 PM · I want to perform (and I say this with a bit of a guilty smile) because:

1. I like to show off (when I do it well)

2. I love to make music, and expose that music to "virgin ears"

3. I really love to play

4. I feel like playing my violin is my greatest form of expression

Does acknowledging any of that (with its several off-shoots that I did not mention) help with nerves? Nope.

September 27, 2008 at 11:48 PM · jim, you said, "Al, it's not observed in all other professions, not even sure it is in this one."

really? is there any discipline in this society where one does not find the experienced end up teaching the inexperienced? i listed 2 examples, i am sure you can come up with another 2000. the only exception that i can think of is the US presidency where you can do whatever you want with your inexperience:)

karen, fascination and emulation of a star musician to many children is very very common and healthy for that developmental stage. the same applies to wanting to be a policeman, a fire fighter, a librarian, a bus driver, a teacher, a footballer, a stay-home mom, etc, etc, etc. it is what a childhood innocent imagination is all about! life is short, can we delay the indoctrination of morality of music education to a later date, like when they are 18 and about to be kicked out of the house? :)

my kid got started with violin watching those gaudy andre reus shows to sleep every night. she thought if she could play violin, wild parties with balloon droppings are waiting for her, that life with music is a ball...

boy was she wrong:), but guess what, now it is too late,,,she is stuck. hahaha!

September 28, 2008 at 01:08 AM · Al, I guess I misunderstood what you meant. I thought you were saying teaching is less prestigious than "doing" in any profession. To me teaching my craft would be more prestigious than "doing it." In the same way that managing is, really.

September 28, 2008 at 12:11 PM · So what you're saying is that your kid did this (perfectly understandable), and then you're generalizing that observation to all kids.

But you've also mentioned that you have two kids, one who plays the violin and who we've seen on YouTube playing amazingly, and another one who plays the piano more reluctantly and shyly. Did that second one start out playing the piano because she wanted to be a star?

I think about this a lot because my daughter seems to have been more like me (and like you've described your other daughter, maybe, although I don't know her). She likes to play for herself and for her dolls, but, at age 9, she already has pretty serious performance nerves. And she's never not had them. They go back to when she started Suzuki at 6 and said she wanted to play the violin because she liked the way the instrument sounded. Back then her teacher was trying to hold out performance on a stage as a reward for practicing and she didn't like the idea *at all*.

She's gotten a little better about it, slowly. She pushed her comfort zone with me at the Farmers' Market about a month ago. The first piece we played she was completely terrified. It was the "can-can," which she knew cold, and I was accompanying her. And she almost completely froze up anyway. I have a recording, you can see her body language, she looks like she wants to flee. Then she was supposed to play "The Yellow Rose of Texas" as a solo by herself, and she just flat-out refused to do it.

So I played it with her, she got through it, and then she started to loosen up a bit. She played a couple of other things by herself. And by the end of our little set, when we played "Home Sweet Home," she was doing fine. And she earned a gift certificate from one of the market vendors, which made her happy. She was glad she did it and said she wants to do it again next year, but I wouldn't say she actually enjoyed the performance part of it. It was more something that she thought was good for her, like eating her broccoli.

I find it really hard to mentor a child like that (and it was hard to be one, too, way back when)--one who wants to play an instrument and enjoys the process, but for whom nerves and out-and-out dislike of performance are a big, ongoing issue--in a culture that so relentlessly pushes performance and "being a star," and then claims that all that pressure comes from within. It doesn't. Not necessarily.

September 28, 2008 at 12:57 PM · Karen- How cute! I wish I was there!

September 28, 2008 at 01:55 PM · karen, thank you for pointing that out, the differences among kids when it comes to affinity for music or music education. yes, everyone is different...from the kid in the red violin movie that sleeps with the violin to my piano kid and your daughter who seem to have to overcome some "blocks" to get where WE want them to be.

of course, i don't mean ALL kids with a violin in hand have fantasies to be a star but most who enjoy performance indeed do. it could be a fleeting thought or even a serioius plan in terms of number of mins to practice,,, the desire and fascination to grow up to be somebody is surely there. to the adults, it is a window of opportunity to enlist them to try to go the distance.

in our house, we aim to play the violin for the heck of it. how about increasing sessions to 2 times per week per the teacher? no. consider going to pre-college for better exposure on saturdays? no. let's see if we do anything right by doing everything wrong:)

unlike many parents, i feel nauseous if i dream about my kid playing violin one day for money. i think my kid will benefit more learning about life in general THROUGH music than just about music. how to set goals, how to device plans, how to stick to them, being responsible, as in, if you say you are going to do it, you are going to do it... if she learns to enjoy the process with music in the background, that will be nice.

with my piano kid, it is a totally different story, one that i will never figure out but have since accepted that fact of life. both my wife and i have since "given up" or "mellow out" and everyone enjoys the peace and quiet more! after our move one year ago, she has cut short her lesson from 2 hours per week under the strict russian regime (actually all in one session, can you imagine that?) to only 30 mins per week,,,with the objective of doing what you can, PLEASE. she used to jokingly beg almost every couple weeks: do i really have to play piano...now she enjoys (no, tolerates may be more fitting) her new schedule much more...before the first yawn, the lesson is over, yeah!

imo, she did not learn much in the past year, but, to her and therefore to us, it is a more reasonable approach for the long term. some people are simply not cut out for certain things and for parents it is a tough pill to swallow dry. she is currently in 8th grade, with home work piling down, as well as being a very talented golfer that competes regularly in the weekend by flight or by car. as far as music is concerned, for her, it is somewhat reluctant, barely tolerable, forever foreign, something that can do without if both parents drop dead tomorrow. as parents we learn to accept that. not easy but doable:)

karen, if your kid enjoys the process but right now not the performance part, there is no loss! continue the process part, limit the performance part to a day when she herself feels ready.

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