One of those days...

Edited: August 16, 2018, 10:01 PM · ... when you can play just anything, no matter of technical difficulty. Instrument is a natural extension of your body and sound comes easily. You are free to experiment, embellish and improvise. Your day was ordinary; same old routine in the office, commute home, dinner... almost no rest in between.
It comes out of nowhere and tomorrow you are back to your average or less than average violin self. No matter how hard you try, that elusive state of mind/body is impossible to find and retain.... until next time.
It could be called a rapture, peak experience or being in the flow.
It happens perhaps 1-3% of time.... how to keep it and reach 40-60%?

Replies (18)

August 16, 2018, 9:59 PM · Xanax.
August 16, 2018, 9:59 PM · Be born with a bow in your hand, I guess.
August 16, 2018, 11:45 PM · Shame on me. A glass of a good italian red wine is no guarantee - but pretty helpful. Increases the rate maybe from 2 to 20%. Obviously it helps me to relax. One glass, not more.

As usual - don't try to do this at home.

August 17, 2018, 2:46 AM · It happened to me once in an orchestra rehearsal. I got informed by the conductor (he named no names but I knew who I was) that he didn't want any "heroes".
Edited: August 18, 2018, 3:35 AM · I'm afraid we have to practice in such a way that our off-days are still serviceable. Then the conditions are there for a possible Rapture, but if it Doesn't Happen the audience shouldn't notice.

If one of my teenage students arrives all grumpy, I sidestep the problem by working on just one aspect: tone, rhythm, trills, vibrato etc. in a purely technical way.

Playing music is work: music itself is a grace which happens to us when we are ready.

August 17, 2018, 5:22 AM · When I used to drink, the more I consumed the better I sounded to myself.
August 17, 2018, 8:50 AM · Well, that's a common phenomenon, Jeff. Same with driving fast, or diy Sawzall soundpost adjustments...
August 17, 2018, 1:56 PM · The great,famous, soloists sound good on their off-days. That's scary.
August 17, 2018, 3:07 PM · I doubt they sound good to themselves on off days.
August 22, 2018, 1:42 PM · I'm not a regular coffee drinker, so coffee has a big affect on me. I have definitely had some of "those days" after a rare time of drinking coffee. interesting because others are talking about things that relax you, but coffee is a stimulant. Of course that made me want to drink it every day, but then it wouldn't have that effect.... Also noticed that any situation in my life which gives me adrenaline, but doesn't make me nervous (so not performing, haha), can make the magic happen. I really have often wondered, how can i play like that every day?! I think its what athletes call being in the zone. Maybe same thing. Playing music is quite physcal, strangely enough...
August 22, 2018, 1:46 PM · Increased dopamine levels can improve coordination. Well, low dopamine levels can negatively impact coordination, to be exact.
August 29, 2018, 4:48 PM · YES. It's happened a few times for me with violin, but more with piano, and twice in the last few days.
I'd been practicing this piece I'm comfortable with, but still have some details to work on. I'd just finished doing this, and decided to play it through, like I was performing it. I attached a story to it, and in my head, this story was what I was playing, while being focused on the music. It flowed, and I was delighted, as I didn't think I'd ever played it better.
Two days later, I was playing the same piece. This time I imagined it was MY composition, that I was Beethoven. I think it was even better than the previous time.
In the past, I'd become distracted whenever my mind flashed to something else. Now, I embrace it, and work it into my story, if it's something like a goal, passion, person, anxiety, etc. If it's like, "Oh, what will I have for lunch?" then no, that shoves me out of "the zone."
I've done it once during a performance. Same piece (I'm a bit obsessed with it, even though I don't like the majority of it; it's fun to play, too). I completely zoned out. Problem is, when I zone out to the point I'm throwing everything I have into playing, without thinking at all of what I'm doing, one small thing will shatter my focus, and I'll lose my place. That's precisely what happened. Thankfully it was an informal performance for a friend. This is again why I've learned to embrace other thoughts, and why I don't allow myself to completely zone out when playing now.
The trick is to stop thinking about technicality. Your brain knows where your fingers go (and bow, in the case of the violin), so don't overthink what you're doing. And DO NOT think about the mistakes you've made with the piece in the past. Every time I do that, I make the same mistakes.
So I guess the answer is to personalize it. Make it your own. Attach a story, or pretend you're the composer. It works for me nearly every time. If only I could remember this during all performances.
August 29, 2018, 5:02 PM · Cocaine is the answer.
August 29, 2018, 7:12 PM · Lol. I think authorities would rightfully have an issue with that one.
August 30, 2018, 6:42 AM · Flow state.
August 30, 2018, 1:18 PM · Jeannette's charming post followed by Cotton's somewhat dubious one goes from the sublime to the ridiculous..
August 31, 2018, 12:54 PM · Roman has got it in one. https://bit.ly/2wIibRp
August 31, 2018, 1:40 PM · "Instrument is a natural extension of your body"

I'm not really very happy with all of my natural extensions right now. Adding another one probably wouldn't help.

I'm making light of this Rocky but I see your point. I'm not good enough on violin yet for this to happen at a level I would like. There is good and better. No best yet for me. My wife ordered some energy powders I occasionally take. It has powdered caffeine,vitamin B12 with a bunch of additional energy ingredients mixed in. For about two hours after I take one of those I feel on top of the world.

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