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Worrying about the notes

December 22, 2021, 10:43 PM · I’ve decided to play the third movement of Bruch for some local violin competitions(for reference, I played Bruch in a recital about a month and half ago and have just finished Lalo first movement in the meantime). I’ve just started practicing Bruch again, and can play in pretty flawlessly around 8 out of 10 times, but am not really thinking about any phrasing or musicality. I’m always under the mindset of “gotta hit this double stop, shift up a minor third, nail that passage of tenths”. What I am trying to say is that I’m only thinking(and worrying) whether I’ll hit these very tricky passages or not. Is this necessarily a bad thing? If so, what will it take to give me a sense of comfort that I’ll do well?

Replies (45)

December 22, 2021, 11:42 PM · I wouldn't say it's necessarily a bad thing, but it's also not really a good thing either. Some competitions will prioritize technical prowess over musicality, but that isn't an excuse to dismiss the musical side of performing whether it's a recital or competition. A lot of competitions want technical fluidity and also very strong musical sense. I'd say it's good to be thinking about the notes, but you need to also think about the musicality at the same time. My teacher has been getting onto me about this in my lessons. During my undergrad I was always worrying about the notes and would only start working on musicality once I had the notes down. But now in my Master's degree my new teacher has been trying to get me to think about both from the very beginning, that way I don't have to add the musicality later and risk messing up all the work that was done on the technical aspects like the notes, rhythms, articulation, etc. I'm not sure how far into re-learning the 3rd movement, but maybe you could try this with some of the passages you're worried about.

Once you figure out how to think about technique and musicality at the same time I think that is what will make you feel more secure for your competition. Also, have fun! Competitions are hard work (so I've heard), but they can be enjoyable as well.

Edited: December 23, 2021, 12:05 AM · It may not really be a problem. You might just be worried that you won't do something that you actually know how to do, and it might not be the exact right place for your focus, or you might just be thinking about important cues.

I guess the more important things to ask are whether you are NOT phrasing or playing musically, or whether your focus is just on different things? I think of violin as a set of skills that rest on other skills that rest on other skills. The more sure we are of a layer of technical skills, the more we can abstract our focus to the layer above that, where we are thinking more in terms of moods, emotions, narratives, or whatever the music means to us.

Sometimes we might dive into the lower layer when we have a particular double stop or shift we are worried about, but oftentimes that worry itself is the problem, because we aren't trusting that we can get it when we know we've done the work.

I believe that in performance, we tend to want to stay at the higher levels of abstraction, where when just sing the next moment in our heads, our "wisdom mind" knows what emotion we are conveying, and the further layers of just how much bow we need to use and just how much vibrato we use (because we practiced that enough to trust that all those details are embedded in the bigger picture, and we'll know just how to execute that without having to draw a diagram).

If we find that while performing, our attention is at the base level of "how does my finger move in a Schradieck exercise?" during a big 16th note run, it might throw us off, but sometimes we can go into that base level in performance when we need to. I just did a little informal performance today, and I had to consciously think about my trills and the finger action, and it actually helped, but aside from that and a few small traps, I tried to let go of conscious thought and just be as free as possible.

Hopefully this isn't too abstruse - What I'm trying to say is I hope you don't worry too much about it, since you've clearly done a lot of work in the practice room.

Also, to echo what Christian H wrote above, it's good to always think about what feeling you are conveying when you practice a passage or part of a piece, so that you never think of any part of a piece without thinking about what you are specifically trying to convey. I think it's helpful to try and form your conception of tricky parts immediately, so you don't spend time thinking of them as just technical hoops to jump through.

December 23, 2021, 7:56 AM · This is my least favourite aspect of classical music culture. Everyone's so caught up with the dots that they seem to forget there's an audience listening (and not just watching for your mistakes).
December 23, 2021, 8:17 AM · Remember what Beethoven said: "To play a wrong note is insignificant. To play without passion is inexcusable." Words for all of us to live by.
December 23, 2021, 8:23 AM · Practice is so that the notes become second nature, and so in a performance they are the last thing we think about.
So if you are thinking about the notes, maybe you haven't practised enough or maybe you should be performing an easier piece.
December 23, 2021, 9:10 AM · It's not a bad thing, on condition that your definition of "did I hit this passage or did I miss it?" includes the musical interpretation you wanted to give to the passage.
December 23, 2021, 11:12 AM · Thanks for the replies, for more information, I’ve been about a week into relearning Bruch, and my competition is in 2 months, so I have plenty of time(So yes, I definitely have not spent enough time in the practice room yet Gordon).
Jean: Interesting thought, I’ll try adding that into my criteria for “did I do well”
Christian L.:Oh definitely, its not that I’m just not doing any phrasing/musicality, it’s just my focus on that is far below what’s currently at the top of my head(intonation first, tone close second).
Christian H.: You know, thinking about technique and musicality in tandem probably would be a huge time saver in learning repertoire, thank you.
December 23, 2021, 2:34 PM · Greetings,
I outlying agree with the above but I tend to err on the side of ‘ep, this is not quite the way to go.’ All those things you are saying suggest you are either thinking in the past or future and not -anchored in the present.= What this -may- mean in concrete terms is that you are not actually listening to your playing (which is extremely common). In your practice I think you need to choose one aspect of your playing such as the hissing noise that the bow makes when we play , or similar it may help to bring you into the present.
When you perform you might also try , curiously enough, not worry about the notes at all, but rather imagine your favorite soloist, or how you would imagine yourself a great soloist would look trying to play the more difficult ending such as runs in tenths and just let the body take care of the rest. The results can be very surprising.
Cheers,
Buri
December 23, 2021, 5:04 PM · I can only speak from the audience's perspective. It's really important to play Bruch third movement in tune! I've been listening to a lot of my daughter's classmates playing the third movement in recitals at the conservatory she's in and believe me you do not want to not "hit" those notes! This piece is essentially just made up of double stops and tenths, and when they are not in tune, the piece sounds very bad. I can't imagine any competition judge will overlook that.
December 23, 2021, 5:17 PM · Greetings,
for what it’s worth, about two weeks prior to a major performance is about the time to start serious work on mental simulation. That is, visualize yourself standing in the wings, walking out on stage, looking at the lights and audience, taking up the violin and seeing/hearing/ feeling yourself playing the piece through from beginning to end. Any point where your mind hesitates needs more practice.
This work should be done as the -exact - last thing you do before going to sleep -and- the -exact - first thing you do when you roll/stagger out of bed in the morning. The morning work is especially important (and very neglected) because it is the time when your brain is not working at full speed so it doesn’t get in the way of body and soul so much.
Cheers,
Buri
Edited: December 23, 2021, 5:54 PM · I don't think one should be worrying about the notes when stepping out on the stage. You may screw up some (I have heard Menuhin and Perlman miss a few) and I certainly missed a few "on stage" in my time but I never worried about it before hand - only later. I never heard Heifetz miss a note, but my father told me he did once (well, out of tune, anyway) - early 20th century, when he had a high fever when playing a concert in NY.

My attitude has been work on the piece until you have something to say with it and know how to "say it" (i.e., it says something to you that you can express) and then go out there and do that. If you haven't found "something to say" keep working on it or select something else to play.

December 23, 2021, 7:58 PM · Exactly Andrew.
The fundamental question is -what= is worrying/criticizing/commenting on the performance. To my mind it is the inner voice that needs to be silenced a la ‘Inner Game of Tennis.’ It really isn’t helping.
Cheers,
Buri
December 24, 2021, 10:05 AM · For good or bad, I do the same, though on less difficult pieces than the Bruch. I concentrate on getting this or that passage under my fingertips; and then, I place greater focus on phrasing and dynamics.

It's a basic strategy of divide and conquer.

December 24, 2021, 11:43 AM · It's threads like this that make me happy I found this community.
December 24, 2021, 5:52 PM · Greetings,
although I appreciate the logic behind the divide and conquer approach I think it can be misleading. Just in my opinion, what we call something like ‘the musical aspect’ meaning dynamics, rubato , accent and so on are -all- the product of specific techniques which need to be practiced bearing this in mind. Looked at this way, the separation immediately becomes problematic.
In concrete terms, The whole is so closely integrated that for example, changing from a relatively neutral dynamic and expressiveness while ‘mastering’ the ‘notes’ to the widest range of expression means a shift in technique as the extra sound may require changes in finger pressure, differnet spped in shifting, definitely using differnet parts of the fingertip pads and so on. It’s can be like going through the whole process again in the worst case scenario.
I also feel that a lot of the mastering the notes aspect can be mental work if one is disciplined enough to memorize a work before putting violin and bow together , a procedure which pays huge dividends but is curiously out of fashion these days. Following throug on it obviates the need for a great deal of time spent on mechanical repetition.
Cheers,
Buri
Edited: December 24, 2021, 10:31 PM · I agree with Buri and Andrew, and of course with Beethoven!!! You want to be sufficiently prepared -- in many ways -- so that your inner voice shined through. But give the composer some credit, too. He wrote a concerto that is going to sound somewhat dramatic even if you're just minding the dots, as Cotton says. On the other hand, "somewhat dramatic" is not really what one aims for in a concerto like the Bruch.
December 25, 2021, 1:06 AM · Worrying about the notes will always be a thing-don’t try to stifle it. Acknowledge it when you think about it, but then move your focus to the phrasing and musicality of the piece, and what you want to communicate to your audience. A competition judge once said to me that at the end of a day of listening to competitors perform, he remembered those who really communicated something in their playing. Practice this mental state as much as possible (this is crucial or it will never happen in an actual performance) during your run-throughs of the piece by going on autopilot as much as possible for the technical stuff, and focusing in the moment on what you’re trying to say through the music. I’ve found that this kind of focus technique helps with nerves, too-it’s easy to overthink and get more nervous when all you’re thinking about are the notes and intonation. Good luck!
December 25, 2021, 11:02 AM · Intonation struggles never go away, but I've come to realize over the years that there are a few things that can help:

1) Make practicing slowly for intonation a regular part of your routine. Even when I practice something this way once, it's gone in two weeks. I have to constantly do it, and I suspect most do as well.

2) Play certain passages against your open strings. You'll be amazed by the number of notes you thought were in tune but aren't. 8 out of 10 violinists drift sharp on the E string, and it becomes very obvious when we play with piano. Of course, leading tones, thirds and sixths of the scale can be played high or low depending on the context, but fourths, fifths, and octaves are not flexible.

3) This goes with 2), but narrow the range of what you consider to be truly "in tune". Lots of violinists, including myself for many years, accept playing that is "sort of in tune". This could mean playing that is in tune with itself but not with the violin's open strings, notes that aren't tempered correctly, etc. Intonation is expressive, not just a technical thing. When you play truly in tune, the violin resonates differently. I guarantee you that focusing your sense of intonation in this way will improve your consistency because, if you only allow yourself to get away with playing in this range on a regular basis, the chances that you miss are slim and if you do miss, it will still be "sort of in tune".

4) Treat intonation as a physics problem rather than a leap of faith. If you're missing a shift or playing chords out of tune some of the time, try to figure out why. Does your shift have too much friction? Are you shifting too quickly? What does your hand position need to be to play the chord in tune? How much left hand pressure do you need? Investigating these things in the practice room allows intonation to become more like a scientific process and demystifies it. You can go into a performance having figured out exactly what to do rather than just hoping for the best.

If you do all of these things in the practice room, it becomes much easier to let yourself focus on phrasing when you perform because you've programmed your body to adjust. Practice performing, too. You need to become used to the performing mindset, where you let your body reproduce the intonation you've practiced. Consciously trying to make yourself play in tune during a performance is a recipe for disaster; it's like you've written to a disc and are trying to re-write to it in real-time rather than simply reading from it. When you perform, you should primarily be thinking about the character and sound you are aiming for, with intonation firmly ensconced by that point.

I hope this helps, and best of luck to you.

December 25, 2021, 1:28 PM · It's funny. Someone asks for advice on how to focus away from the technical problems and many responses are lists of tips on how to focus in on those problems.

How you want to present your piece dictates your technique. If there is to be a portamento somewhere your fingerings will have to accommodate that. Whether you want to play a passage on the strings or spiccato is a technical decision--but one following and depending on a musical decision.

Which means you have to know the piece quite well before settling on the technical details. Buri recommends memorizing the piece before starting to work on it for this reason (if I understand him correctly). I don't have the kind of memory* to achieve that with a reasonable amount of effort. So I like to take time with new pieces, start with sight reading the piece and studying the score (one way to silently practice), not worrying about execution much**. At first I want to understand the music and have an idea about how it should sound. Then I settle on fingerings and other details, writing them into the score only for really difficult passages (I think many people overload their sheet music with fingerings, warning flags and what not). And only then is it time IMHO to dive in for the difficult passages. (On the upside: It seems that it is easier to get the technique right if there is a clear idea of the result to be achieved***.)

The problem is: This takes time (not just practice time--amateurs have more time than professionals). I have no good advice for the OP who seems to be working with a deadline. And even if you tackle a piece you worked on five years ago you will find yourself disagreeing with your choices back then ("how could I??") and you start all over again.

* It took me weeks to memorize the first movement of Bach's E-Major concerto--and that was AFTER I had learned to play it quite well; I did not even manage to memorize the other two movements (I suppose I could have managed the last if someone had put a pistol to my head) and I was 18 years old then, now I am 68...

** BTW this is also a marvelous way to get to know new pieces, even those you don't want to perform.

*** When we worked on the Dumky trio I was very afraid of the octaves in the first movement. I was debating if I should play the top note or the bottom note if I failed at the octaves. As it turned out they seemed to play themselves; I never really had a problem with them.

December 26, 2021, 9:03 AM · "It's funny. Someone asks for advice on how to focus away from the technical problems and many responses are lists of tips on how to focus in on those problems."

Albrecht, the reason for this is that, if worrying about something is consuming you, it's usually a symptom of a larger problem. We worry about intonation while performing when the intonation has not been fully addressed during practicing and is partially left to chance. I personally only worry about intonation when I routinely play things out of tune. If I can play something correctly 95% of the time or higher, that's enough consistency where I have the bandwidth to focus on the other, more interesting aspects of playing. You break free of intonation worries by tackling it head-on as a issue. Believe me, I've tried the mental tricks you're alluding to, and they do not work as a long-term strategy because the original issue (notes sometimes out of tune) does not get solved.

December 26, 2021, 10:57 AM · "It's threads like this that make me happy I found this community."

It's threads like this that make me glad I no longer perform...

December 26, 2021, 11:58 AM · Scott I think the secret is to perform for audiences that would be glad to hear you. And I think there are likely many such audiences for you. Fewer for me -- but that's okay. Years ago I read an article about how Americans don't have hobbies any more because they're basically worried that if they take up stamp collecting or surfing or mushroom-hunting or violin-playing or whatever, they won't be the BEST at it or -- to put a finer point on it -- their accomplishments in their chosen hobby won't impress their circle of friends.
Edited: December 26, 2021, 1:30 PM · Evan, I think we are not as far apart as you seen to assume. All I wanted to say (in admittedly more words than absolutely necessary) is this: Whatever you perform on your instrument, the goal is the music; technique is the means to that goal. I did not intend to recommend neglecting intonation. What I wanted to say is: You have to have a decision on your fingering before it makes sense to clean up the intonation of a passage. And the fingering should be chosen for musical reasons--though with the technical limits of the performer in mind. Ditto with other technical decisions.

What does not work IMHO is the idea that you "clean up" the technique and then add "musicality" into the mix when you are on stage performing.

December 26, 2021, 4:33 PM · Paul,
I think the secret is to assess one's own personality and skills and make a realistic judgement as to whether one should in fact aspire to perform at all.

Most people probably should not. Over my career I've seen very few musicians that should have been anywhere near a stage. Most classical musicians push through and insist on putting themselves in performance situations for which they are simply unsuited. Sure, they read books, take pills, get therapy, you name it. But at the end of they day, they still shouldn't.

I'm sure everyone will say "wow, you're so cynical."

But, I wonder how many people are really honest with themselves, and I wonder how many teachers are honest with their students.

December 26, 2021, 5:51 PM · As the fox said: "I don't want those grapes; they are sour anyway"??
Edited: December 26, 2021, 9:28 PM · Scott, sure, I see your point. We can each of us enjoy the violin on our own terms. I just think that if a person really wants to perform, then there's probably an audience of some description for them.
December 27, 2021, 1:49 PM · Absolutely: When you play quartets with three friends you are performing--for the other three. The smallest possible audience would be a partner in a duo.
December 27, 2021, 2:16 PM · I think there isn't a divide between technique and musicianship. A musical shape helps our brains with technical execution. And without technique, there is no musical expressiveness.

In particular, we need to play with fluidity even when the going is tough. My teacher constantly reminds me to focus on the connections between notes rather than the individual notes. Connections are part of the contour of the phrase. Hear the connections and you'll better hear (mentally) what you're aiming for.

As for Scott's comments on performing, I think this depends on the mindset of the performer. Some people feel that the only good performance is one that reaches certain heights of technique and musicianship. Others feel that merely sharing one's love of music is adequate.

The classical music community worships technical accomplishment. But most other musical styles don't care that much. Most audiences, even classical audiences, can enjoy a performance that isn't technically perfect (and might not even entirely be aware when something isn't technically perfect).

If anything, most teachers of classical music under-emphasize the role of imperfect performance.

Edited: December 28, 2021, 10:26 AM · I am reminded of the famous Heifetz response when asked if he had to practice every day: "If I don't practice for one day, I can hear the difference. If I don't practice for 2 days, the orchestra can hear the difference. If I don't practice for 3 days, the audience can hear the difference, and if I don't practice for 4 days, the critics can hear the difference."

And, personally, as I have said elsewhere...I have never made a mistake (I thought I did once, but I was wrong).

I recall being in the audience in Chicago when David Oistrakh played the Prokofiev Concerto #1. The first and third movements were absolutely wonderful. But that highly technical and thrilling second movement was a disaster. He got off to a bad start, missed a lot of notes, played sloppy, out of tune, and overall it was awful.

Nevertheless, the audience gave him a wonderful ovation at the end of the Concerto. He and the conductor walked offstage to great applause. But then, when they returned and he tuned up (clearly preparing to give an encore), they replayed just that second movement. This time, his performance was beyond incredible, technically and musically. At its conclusion, the audience and orchestra's response brought the house down. I'll never forget it.

Happy New Year everybody.
Sandy

December 28, 2021, 1:09 PM · If you are really worrying like “will I hit this note?”, this is not helpful, at all. Because the question doesn’t improve your motions. I have often played somewhat stiffer due to my asking myself things like “will this work?”. I then focused really hard on telling myself to ignore the question, because its answer was going to present itself a moment, later, anyway. Rather tell yourself what to do, exactly.

A precise awareness of the technical aspects is however a good thing. You might sing the phrases of your piece, and then define which exact motions will lead to that phrasing.

Third advice: Carl Flesch said to divide the daily practice time into three equal parts: 1st, technical exercises, 2nd, the technical execution of the pieces, and 3rd, playing without any technical worries, and with the focus completely on the musical expression.

It takes a lot of self discipline to really also practice that third part, but I often wish, I had taken that more seriously, earlier. You might record yourself or take notes on what you might have to work on, technically, the next day.

Edited: December 28, 2021, 6:19 PM · Scott, I tend to agree with you. To liberally paraphrase Groucho Marx, I wouldn't pay to hear an orchestra that would accept me as a member. I blame this on being raised by parents who were persistently, almost perversely critical of just about everything and everyone.

But it seems that
a) not every listener is as discerning as I am and also
b) even those with discerning ears are not always as harsh as I am.
Some seem to genuinely enjoy musical performances that to me sound horribly flawed. And others, still more miraculously, are able to hear the flaws and enjoy aspects of the performance anyway.

(Fortunately there also seem to be a lot of musicians with a relationship to performance that is healthier than mine, so there's something for these tolerant/appreciative folks to hear.)

Sandy, that's an amazing story. Even a seasoned, world-class performer can make mistakes and let those mistakes snowball–and it sounds like lack of preparation wasn't really the issue here (judging from his recap)

December 28, 2021, 6:41 PM · I agree with Scott’s sentiments.

As an aside, I wonder how a past virtuoso, say Paganini or Kreutzer, would fare in today’s competitive environment. Could they play their own compositions as well as today’s virtuosos? Maybe it’s impossible to say but I wonder.

December 28, 2021, 7:00 PM · I agree with Paul. When my community orch or my chamber group performs, and the audience enjoys it, that is all that matters. Whether an NSO (or more sophisticated) audience would enjoy it is not something that concerns me. Nor is the fact that I may have muffed some notes. If I played like I meant it and the audience enjoyed it, I am satisfied.
December 29, 2021, 3:05 AM · Being an amateur is great. Nobody ever paid me to play solo in public and I never worried about my performances either before or after the event.
December 29, 2021, 3:26 AM · Lydia mentions connections.
I often maintain that two thirds of our technique lies between the notes. For the listener, this is the hidden part of our iceberg! But it is between the sounds, and even during the preceding sounds, that the next finger is in preparation, including help from wrists and elbows.
Edited: December 29, 2021, 11:09 AM · Great and interesting discussion by all. If I may add my all-time favorite musical quote, it's by Tchaikovsky:

"Music is not illusion. It is rather revelation. Its triumphant power is that it reveals to us beauties we find nowhere else. And the apprehension of them is not transitory, but a perpetual reconcilement of life."

December 29, 2021, 2:29 PM · It is funny about these famous quotes. They often sound more impressive than they should.

Take Tchaikovsky: The beginning is fine. But the last sentence is incomprehensible coming from one of the finest composers: Music is transitory by definition. Every time one of Tch.'s symphonies is to be experienced 100 people need to sit down and go to work on it. Once the last chord has ended the symphony is gone and needs to be recreated for a new experience. (We now have recording devices but Tchaikovsky was unaware of those. And even now we have to press a button or click a mouse to "create" the experience.) Artists are not always the people who best explain their art.

Heifetz's quote: I don't think is is really meant as an instruction for practice. It is a dig at critics and an unfair dig to boot.

Edited: December 29, 2021, 3:50 PM · Albrecht: Interesting responses. However, then, if someone tells you they love you, it doesn't mean anything at all until they tell you again? It only means something while they're telling you? And, yes of course, the Heifetz quote was totally meant as a dig at the critics. (And are critics always fair?)
December 30, 2021, 2:36 AM · Yes, in translation the Tchaikovsky quote sounds obscurely pompous ("reconcilement of life"??) but I can well appreciate what he meant
December 30, 2021, 11:48 AM · Yes, I also believe that Tchaikovsky meant something significant and timeless in that quote. It is, I believe, the transcendent appreciation and memory of music we each individually retain in our minds and hearts, and it touches the spiritual meaningfulness of life, much like the endless complexity of experiences we all have in our lives.
December 30, 2021, 1:43 PM · 'As the fox said: "I don't want those grapes; they are sour anyway"'

Albrecht,
True, I wish that I had enjoyed performing more.

However, what I said was also based on my observations of others. I knew many graduate students, for example, that I felt had absolutely no business on stage--I remember a few recitals in which they would fall apart under pressure. Same with many professionals such as orchestral principles who could barely make it through a solo with those fearful "deer in headlight" look in their eyes.

Edited: December 30, 2021, 3:45 PM · "Most classical musicians push through and insist on putting themselves in performance situations for which they are simply unsuited. Sure, they read books, take pills, get therapy, you name it. But at the end of they day, they still shouldn't."

Scott, I find your assessment to be a bit dismissive. Many great players struggle with performance anxiety, and this keeps them from showcasing their true potential. Some people can just power through it. Sometimes, though, those books, pills or therapy may be what allows them to overcome this hurdle.

I have a friend who nearly quit performing because they would shake uncontrollably during every concert; this killed their bow control. After discovering beta blockers, this person was able to approach performing without the fear that their bow control would be wrecked by tremors. They now hold a position in a top 20 orchestra, a goal that would've been unattainable for them with their previous shaking. They play beautifully and very much deserve their achievements. Performance anxiety isn't who we are; it keeps us from who we're supposed to be.

I find your anecdotes re: orchestras hard to believe, unless you're referring to freeway philharmonics and maybe a few lower tier ROPA ensembles. The process of winning any serious ICSOM job (as I'm sure you're aware) usually requires performing for 30+ minutes in the final round in some sort of a large hall. How would someone who falls apart under pressure be able to navigate such a scenario and find their way into the situations you describe?

Many professional musicians never lose their performance anxiety; I'd argue that a small minority ever feel "at home" on a stage. For the rest of us, we practice like hell, perform a lot, and try to overcome the roadblock that nature has foisted upon us.

Edited: December 31, 2021, 10:04 AM · If there is a more difficult, challenging, complex, and stressful art in any way you can think of in this world than playing the violin, I'd like to know what it is. And the psychology of performing is just as challenging as any other aspect.

There is no single answer to how to handle the interplay between the psychological and the physical. We each have to incorporate our own personal history and individual uniqueness into whatever advice we get.

So, try everything that seems reasonable (or maybe even not). Keep what works. Throw the rest out.

December 31, 2021, 10:38 AM · How about ballet dancing?
Edited: December 31, 2021, 4:23 PM · Yeah, there are a few violinists who look like they're ballet dancing.

What not to look like you're doing while playing the violin:
- Kicking a field goal in a football game.
- Riding a bike.
- lifting weights.
- Giving a political speech.
- Doing your taxes.
- Brushing your teeth.
- Playing a trumpet.
- Riding a roller coaster.
- Sleeping.

I'm not sure that covers everything.

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