This summer, I chose to devote my ample free time to a serious drive for improvement. I've been practicing and performing regularly over the last nine years, making small but steady progress as a musician, but I'm still not happy with my level of playing: I feel limited and inadequate when tackling the great chamber works. After dabbling about, I decided to dig into the serious technical studies and methodically chip away at my technical weaknesses. So, for six hours a day, I play a variety of etudes and scales that challenge everything I can imagine: detache, spiccato, sautille, staccato, and legato bowing exercises, intonation studies, scales, and arpeggios, double stops, trills, speed work, fourth finger vibrato--you name it. Each hour takes incredible focus and clarity of mind, and I choose specific goals and devise steps to achieve them. By the end of the day, I'm mentally spent.
I've been at it for six weeks so far, and I have six more before the teaching season gets busy again. (I'm a violin teacher and performing chamber musician.) Some days, I think I've gotten somewhere finally, but progress is so much more difficult when you are in your thirties. I'm usually a quick learner with a strong intuitive drive, but the mind games are so negative sometimes, and some days I feel like it's back to square one. Once a week or so, I take a day off and play maybe just an hour of scales and some Bach, to let my muscles recover. Surprisingly, my body feels great, though.
Maybe that's the problem, though. I got all obsessive about things, and it seems like there's no limit to it; I always feel like I could be doing more. If I take time off to go fishing or hiking, I feel guilty and worry that I'll lose momentum. But if I spend my whole summer inside practicing, I'm afraid I will regret it, especially if I don't improve.
The problem is, I don't have anyone for feedback, and it's very rare that I see or play with other musicians. In my current situation, I'm living a very isolated life, far away from like-minded musicians; If I'm lucky, once a week I will drive 150 miles up to Anchorage and play trios or quartets, but schedules are difficult to arrange. So, I'm turning to my friends on the internet now for inspiration and encouragement. This website is what got me started on this journey, nine years ago, and it's always been an invaluable resource to me. I don't want to burn out, and I want to keep having faith that I'll be glad I invested in this, and people will play with me, and we will perform the beautiful music I've always dreamed of playing.
I don't know what I'm asking you guys to do... Maybe just discuss your own inner struggles as a violinist and who or what has helped you through the tough times when you wanted to give up. I know, I know, it's a threadbare topic, but it's late, and I'm lonely.
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