Playing a Piece You’re Burnt Out On
I searched the archives for an answer, but they didn’t have exactly what I was looking for.
I just had my junior recital as a senior due to covid a little over a week ago, and I played the entire wieniawski concerto no 2 in d minor. Now I’m preparing for my master’s auditions. The logical thing to do would be to use wieniawski for the concerto portion of the repertoire. The problem is I put my all into my performance and now I feel that I have nothing left to give for the piece. I tried playing the first movement a couple days after my recital and I could feel in my playing that I didn’t really care as well as my heart wasn’t in it. My professor said to not play the piece for a couple weeks so I haven’t touched the piece in a week as a sort of detox from the piece.
In the meantime I’ve been working on the Adagio and Presto from Bach’s g minor sonata as well as the 1st movement of Sibelius. I feel really motivated to learn these new pieces, but every time I think about Wieniawski I just have no desire to play it. I’m hoping in another week or two I’ll be able to play it since I only need to play one movement for my recording.
It’s one of those I know what I need to do, but I don’t know if I have the will/strength to do it scenarios.
Does anyone have any ideas whether it’s just experience or another way to go about this?
Think of the D minor as beautiful music vs a repetitive chore. Imagine it as worthy to be worked on, for it is. What different phrasing I can do? Vibrato, slides, fingerings? Even as you master a work, it always remains a musical laboratory of near endless exploratory work, unless you have endeavoured to play everything in one inflexible, "perfect" way (I would argue such a thing is idealistic and does not exist, however.)
I like Adalberto's closing sentence -- I feel that we in music should never take our ability and our gift to share music with others for granted.
The musician risks being burnt out in every popular piece, so a mindset has to be developed (although admittedly my teacher has played so much Strauss and Tchaikovsky it almost makes her puke, lol).
Depending on how far off the audition is, you may be able to put it down for a few months rather than a few weeks. If the audition is in the spring, five months away, and the work is already polished to a high gleam, you can probably afford to discard it entirely for at least six weeks -- put it away, don't think about it. For the next several weeks thereafter, play it briefly each week -- keep it in your fingers, don't work on it per se. A few weeks before the audition, you can return to high intensity work on it, when pressure and focus should provide motivation and you might have some fresh ideas.
Lydia's advice is good. Its what I would do in your position
Yes you just need detox time. Your professor is right. Are you preparing for a professional career as a violinist? If so then it is time to accept the grim truth: Being a professional
Wonderful advice and wisdom in all of the above comments and advice. I can't improve on it. But (as a psychologist and life-long amateur violinist and music lover), how about considering the following:
I’m not sure it’s helpful to point this out, but there was a recent episode of “This American Life” that told the story of the musicians in the pit orchestra for “The Phantom of The Opera” who have been playing the same thing eight times a week, quite a few of them for the entire 30 year run time of the show. They all agreed that it was never what they had in mind when they were studying to be musicians, but the consensus was that it’s a well paying, dependable job in a world that has few of those for people in their field. (At least it was dependable until COVID-19.)
To Paul's and Sander's remarks, might I add playing it with a different technical focus: pretend you are learning it anew, or teaching it; re-evaluate every sensation, and indulge in "over-thinking"!; play with tone colours; forget the piece and enjoy each note....
I think the advice to let this rest for a few weeks and really focus on other stuff is sound. When you come back, some parts may need relearning, depending on how your brain works with memorization, but you will probably look at much of it with very new eyes, and may find that your understanding of the piece has deepened.
The hardest thing to do is something you really don't want to do. There's no trick that you can use on yourself to make yourself really forget that you don't want to do it, but you can, as Adalberto so warmly writes, find good reason to want to do something.
All good advice so far, thanks everyone.
I think the practical advice above is good as well for handling the problem in the moment. As far as the big picture, there are a couple things to keep in mind.
I like all the suggestions, especially Rich Maxham.
I agree with the others, and your teacher. Put the piece on the shelf and let it marinate in the back of the brain. Since you did get it up to performance level it won't take long to retrieve it.
It is very normal to run out of ways to practice on a piece you know very well. A solution is to create new challenges for yourself. For instance:
If that concerto fails to move you I'm not sure what to say.
On Rich's comment about performing for the audience: I would argue that there is a vast difference between performing in front of an audience, with other musicians, than trying to be interested in the work when isolated in the practice room.
Christian, since you don't have that long, you might just power through and try and record it and get it off your plate.
You all make very good points, and I thank you for that.
I just put this up on the Violin Limericks thread. I think it applies here.
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