Amateur Players: what keeps you motivated and "going"
Jumping off of this thread, and the issue of "what keeps one going" vs drifting or outright quitting: https://www.violinist.com/discussion/thread.cfm?page=2929
What is it that keeps us amateurs "going" with the instrument, aside from the sheer love of the instrument?
Is it lessons? Community orchestra? Ensembles?
What keeps you motivated day after day? What keeps you from drifting? What is not a motivating factor for you?
I like the feeling of reward that a lesson brings and having new material to work on, having current goals within current rep and future-oriented goal repertoire (that I'll likely never play, but hey it doesn't hurt to try!). Also those (rare) moments when something clicks into understanding or insight while practicing/playing that is ultimately integrated into daily practice.
Lately I've been loving the simple act of practicing daily (likely since I understand more of what is going on with technique and the music and am able to problem solve a teensy bit more than before.) And manage to practice no matter what is going on, even if for 20-30mins.
My lesson schedule has been weird that past three months, only one every four weeks (vs every other week), but in some ways it's motivated me to work harder between lessons so I can squeeze as much out of my lessons as possible.
I'm not motivated by learning concertos (sure, there's a couple that I'd like to learn, but I'm more interested in solo works and sonatas these days), and my teacher thankfully also agrees that concertos -for me- are not a wise pedagogical direction. I like having rep that I can potentially perform, I like having rep that is shorter than a standard concerto too. In a somewhat related sense, what keeps me going is searching for new rep to learn that's less common than the traditionally taught rep, and then learning it, or putting it into the "future" pile. (I'm just starting to get to the point now in my playing and confidence level where more material is accessible for me - which is really exciting!)
What also keeps me motivated is my violin - I love my violin so much and I know it wants to help me make music. My violin is a daily reminder to not let myself drift off again, because when I drifted I felt like a piece of me was missing and I never want to feel like that again if I can help it.
My motivating factors:
2. the aha's that come from practicing, and the practice itself
4. my relationship with my violin
All of the above! Thanks for creating this thread. I expect a lively and productive discussion.
Too lazy to stop, mostly.
1. Its the emotional expression first and foremost. The violin allows me to express feelings and sensations that is (at least for me) impossible any other way.
It's so interesting how people have different reasons. For me, it has a lot to do with community and playing with others. I'm in two, sometimes 3, orchestras, and a variety of chamber groups, formal and informal. My teacher is very interesting and analytical and I would enjoy spending time with her in almost any context. So I enjoy my lessons, but they've become infrequent lately due to my being busy at work. I am not a particularly goal-oriented person; I find a lot of goals to be anxiety-provoking and demotivating more than anything else. So I have moderate and modest goals, mostly oriented towards learning orchestra and chamber works. I did work towards and perform a solo piece last year. I was very glad I did it and might do it again someday, but I think big ambitious solo goals are a dessert in my musical life, not a main course. I practice most days, but I am very gentle with myself if it's not in the cards on a particular day. I've found that giving myself permission to *not* practice daily and to take days off is essential to my mental health and motivation. The other thing that keeps me motivated is writing about music. I found violinist.com when I re-started playing in the fall of 2006. I had quit twice before and was looking for a way to not quit again. I started blogging, and I'm still here!
In my case, there's three factors: Curiosity + Challenge + Bach.
I think that whether you play professionally or as an amateur, you can always find inspiration by listening to old and new music and performers, and the mere aspects of the journey itself. "Can I get better?" "Can I express better" "Can I explore-and play well-repertoire I never would have thought of?"
For me it's playing in orchestras. I miss it. My ambition is to join one next year. I may also join a choir before then.
1. The main thing that keeps me going is that there is always something that can be improved on in my playing. Even if I only have 20 minutes, I can work on a shift, or polishing a piece, or experiment with phrasing.
Motivated by love of music, potential for improvement, and opportunities to make music with friends.
I think lessons are a huge part of my motivation, as I am striving to gain Grade 5, Grade 8 and then hopefully an ARSM on the viola. I really enjoy putting in the hard work. I also thoroughly enjoy being in orchestras on both violin and viola, and playing traditional music on the violin (fiddle). I naturally practise quite a lot, certainly on the viola, as that is my main focus at the moment. But the practise habits I have were developed through childhood too. The hard work is good, and at some point I would like to have a go at the Walton Viola Concerto, when I am a little bit better. So that as a goal certainly keeps me going!
Like Karen, I am significantly motivated by the social aspect. Even if I'm not chatting with people much, I much prefer music-making with other people. If I didn't have a family, I'd probably be playing in a couple of orchestras and chamber groups, playing pit for musicals, and doing a musical group activity almost every day.
All of the above!
Not sure about the violin being like a baby. The much more commonly used metaphor is (or used to be I hope) that playing the violin is like making love to a woman...
I have two bands, both of which I could add fiddle when I get good enough. Actually, one I could start now.
Paul - I did not have an intimate relationship with my previous instrument, it is with this one that I acquired at the end of last year, when I met this instrument it felt like kismet. And then I didn't want to believe it and spent several weeks weeks trying to convince myself that I didn't love it. I swear I looked at it while playing a simple scale last night, smiled and thought, "I love you". Never in a million years would I believe that I'd be this attached to an instrument. This is likely why I am very content to be in the solitude of the practice room making glacial progress.
My current motivating factors, in current order:
A small voice inside that says that I'm the greatest of all time and that all others will eventually bow before me.
Hahaha Christian - that reason is fantastic.
Gotta nurture that inner child, Pamela!
As an educated old-timer beginner, I tend to preserve my time on violin. I mean that I want it to be the best time since the previous one, so if I do not feel like playing it because my mind is polluted by stress or constraints, then I do not pick it. I feel like it is out of respect, just like you do not go out for dinner when your mind is not totally focused on your date.
I started at 23 and my motivation was greatly repertoire oriented: I heard the Paganini Caprices for the first time but no matter how hard I worked, they wouldn't sound good enough on the guitar.
For me definitely orchestra where I am now the concertmaster (means not much given the low level of our ensemble). I expect myself to play the parts cleanly, also all the nasty passages, and that motivate me to keep my technique up, scales, exercises, etudes, etc. I am however getting more and more frustrated that many violinists in our orchestra simply never practice their parts. They come to some rehearsals, also skip quite a few, and then seem to have no qualms participating in the concert although their sound is miserable and they simply stop playing whenever it gets too technical. Would appreciate getting tips on how to deal with this, after all, we are all amateurs, we are all humans, so it is a touchy subject.
Jean, as a teacher of many adult beginners, I can say that the average adult player just doesn't care as much as we do. For them, it's just a hobby, something fun to do. Of course, this keeps the $$$ coming for me, but can be frustrating at times.
Erik: "Jean, as a teacher of many adult beginners, I can say that the average adult player just doesn't care as much as we do. For them, it's just a hobby, something fun to do."
Unfortunately, I have to second everything that Erik says. Having been principal violist in that kind of orchestra, I found that the only way to deal with that frustration was to get out and find a more serious orchestra. (And I didn't even have your frustration because the viola section was more serious and significantly more competent than the rest of the strings. I would have been happy with that section if not for literally everyone except me moving out of town the same summer.) That orchestra also had a Dunning-Kruger aspect to it where the worst players in the orchestra were the ones who thought they were the best; they were also older players who openly pooh-poohed the idea that anyone without gray hair could possibly have any understanding of music. Again, leaving was easier than arguing. As it turned out, the concertmaster of that orchestra left after a few frustrating years, started her own mid-level, moderately serious community orchestra, and got most of the more serious musicians to follow her.
It's the natural love of music - esp. Strings music. And then you would listen to a lot of those music, thinking day and night how to play those music by yourself, and you will in turn try your best to create chances/reasons to play violin - community orchestra, my own band, playing for church, and even teaching. If you love it very much, you would create these "reasons"!
Krista Moyer wrote:
What keeps me motivated? The community orchestra that I'm in (same one as Karen) prepares 3 concerts per year, so I'm motivated to practice the rep for that. Also, I look for opportunities to perform solo (Mendelssohn and Bruch with my orchestra) or with a quartet/quintet (usually made up of members of my orchestra). So those performances keep me motivated as well!
Elise, there aren't any good stats on this. Certainly there are some amateurs who are very dedicated and others who aren't. I played in a community orchestra as a teenager too and it was the same then, so I'm not seeing any kind of downward trend.
.. or they pick higher-level music and let the weak fall by the wayside. I've seen a couple of orchestras like that that do not have auditions.
".. or they pick higher-level music and let the weak fall by the wayside. I've seen a couple of orchestras like that that do not have auditions."
I dislike the artificial dichotomy between amateur and professional musicians and would opt for avocational instead. If the OP's question can be restated as t:
I would distinguish the people in community-orchestra string sections by both whether or not they're
The separation/dichotomy between the wheat and the chaff (pro vs amateur) is a little silly. It puts us "chaff" (amateurs) in the bin despite the fact there are those of us amateurs who take our instruments quite seriously. Regardless of the common language that's used -for better or worse- being able to play an instrument, especially when one doesn't have to do it for work, is a great privilege.
"i feel like I want a private FB group for community/semi-pro concertmasters to discuss things in a non-public forum. :-) "
Exactly. The community isn't huge to begin with -- probably a few thousand people worldwide -- and there's also a pro/am divide, as many community orchestra concertmasters are paid ringers.
I play in my spare "bedroom" which is a workspace for my husband and I. It is filled with all sorts of creative projects and storage for said projects - it is truly a workspace in that regard, an indoor garage of sorts...
My 2nd "bedroom" serves as study/reading/playing space. I've a nice corner set up with a large mirror mounted for mirror bowing exercises, stand, light, table for books and such. My desk chair is a good height if I feel like sitting down rather than standing. The room is almost too full, but it's nice to have a less public section of my apartment set aside for playing. You can see part of it in my avatar for this forum.
I started back, as I've written about some other places, to keep my newly widowed father company as playing his cello was one of the few things keeping him going, so I got a loaner, $25/month to see if I could still play and we began playing duets. He was thrilled and I was very surprised to discover that after 40+ years (18-59) I could still play. I got more and more into it, bought a better violin, took a few lessons, went to a few pick up chamber groups and i'm hooked. My goal is to be able to comfortable play loads of chamber music and keep up with others. I also now deeply enjoy practicing, very unlike when i was young and it was a chore. Now the problem solving, unbundling the challenges, working on them, putting them back together, totally holds my interest (and blocks out any other concern or worry!) and noting progress is so satisfying.
I had lessons today. And it was a pleasure. After quite some time I felt for the first time again improving,shifts were nicer, not a lush vibrato but not choked as well, better tone (a lot of g string which my violin likes).
Timothy - I've 3 light sources outside of my window and Mighty Bright Orchestra light. I really appreciated the helpful discussion about stand lighting a few months back. I need all the above turned on but, for now, that's enough light. I can reference that thread if and when I might need more...I also had to get "music stand" glasses as I couldn't see the music in my regular progressive lenses :-)
The violin and piano literature keeps me going. I really enjoy performing with a pianist friend. We've played some early Beethoven Sonatas, some modern classical works, tangos, and themes from movie soundtracks. In general, I prefer works where the two instruments are more or less equal partners. Lately, I've started exploring Schubert's sonatinas and I'm really enjoying the process (these works remind me of Mozart). In my youth I remember being focused on concerto movements as opposed to sonatas (with the exception of Bach and a Brahms sonata movement, which was the All State audition piece!). But I was fortunate to have a very talented violin teacher who could also play the piano parts a high level. I wonder if many teachers nowadays accompany their students on piano. I think it was helpful in learning to play with others.
What keeps me motivated?
This passionate violin teacher answers your question between 01:37 and 03:30 of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCffzTjvZWI
A few years ago I started irregularly watching The Voice on TV and became impressed by the relaxed familiarity with the music-making process that the professional performers had relative to the amateurs, that gave real life to their performances relative to the otherwise-excellent amateurs on the show.