How To Gain True Devotion - Let Them Invent

Butterfly Scroll

One of the ways we unwittingly destroy motivation in children is by teaching them that there is only one right answer.

Usually, in music and in life, there is more than one answer, more than one approach. When children are allowed to explore all the options available to them, they can take personal ownership of them in a deeper way.

Children are more likely to engage and commit to something they have discovered on their own. If they are allowed to experiment and realize for themselves what is good, effective, beautiful, they are more likely to engage with it and remember it long term.

Because beginners don't know the technical skills required for getting started, these must be taught and practiced. By necessity much of this teaching is done in a "do-it-this-way" approach. But this rule-based way of doing things needs to be replaced as quickly as possible by a more exploratory framework, or the creative soul of music is dulled.

Moreover, many children are perfectionists. They already assume without our telling them that there is one right way, and immediately feel like a failure when they don't get it. That's a sure way for them to lose motivation and stop practicing.

By recovering a spirit of invention and exploration, you can overcome this loss of motivation. By changing the framework. you will make it easier for your child not to assess self-blame, and eliminate the fear of doing it wrong. 

Letting your children invent is an important life skill. They will use it not only in music, but in every other area that they are trying to learn and master. By framing goals in terms of creating, exploring, and moving toward what is good, instead of only conforming to what is correct, we establish a long-term mindset that guarantees true devotion and love for one's work.

The Many Benefits Of Group Class

Why is it important to play in a group?

Playing in a group provides many benefits:

  • Energy - the spark of others’ presence

  • Anti-apathy - a healthy sense of not being lazy around one’s peers

  • Motivation - seeing the results of hours of solo practice

  • Belonging - feeling a part of something larger than “me”

  • Fun - group dialogue, humor, games, interaction

  • Musicality - listening to others and awareness of blending

  • Reassurance - knowing that others have similar challenges with playing, memorizing, or technique

  • Repertoire - more exposure to diversity of music, more chances to review known pieces

Group class provides many things that compliment individual lessons. They work together to establish a well-rounded player.

And, it is seriously a lot of fun. Don't miss the next opportunity for group training!

Contact Edward about joining the next studio group class.

How to Beat Performance Anxiety

We have all felt it.

The dry mouth, the shaking hands, the sudden loss of words. Performance anxiety is no fun. And when it comes to music, performance anxiety can kill good musical expression.

Here are five ways I've found that lessen performance anxiety:

  1. Adequate practice.  A "polished piece" is one that has been mastered to a level that can be played with ease. Sometimes this takes weeks, and sometimes months! Depending on the level of difficulty, you may need more practice to get to a level of polish than you first think. Remember, learning the notes is only half way.
  2. Plenty of rehearsal. A rule of thumb I have started to follow is to formally rehearse the piece twice as much as I initially think necessary. That includes scheduling extra time if needed with an accompanist (I say "no" to the performance if this is not possible), and playing through it at least twice in the space I am going to perform in.
  3. Memorization. Reading notes that are not well internalized is a distraction when performing. Over-reliance on note reading is a sure way to destroy good musical playing, because the brain is engaged in reading rather than expressing. Sheet music can be used as a safety net for a performance, after memorization has taken place, but only as a prompt for the real purpose, music-making.
  4. Routine. Do everything the same way as you set up, each time you play and rehearse. This applies to everything from checking your tuning to the initial placement of your bow.
  5. Take your time. When getting set, take time to play the beginning mentally, get back in touch with what you are trying to do musically. Breathe, allow your body to settle as much as possible.

Dealing with fear is another aspect of the process that I'll cover in future posts. But if you'll do these five things consistently, your performances will go better and you'll feel less nervous.

You can conquer the fear of performing. Remember, the more you do it, the easier it gets, and if you take the right intentional steps, you will get there.

Violin Angst

The highest gift in life

Music has always been a communal activity.

It allowed the earliest humans to become social. Music, then and now, places us into a larger whole. It situates us in a shared space, one that we actually crave: the space of connection and bonding to other humans.

When we speak the language of music, we truly harmonize and flourish as a people. Sharing our love of music together is motivating and fun, and we help each other get over the fear and nervousness of playing in front of people. 

But more than that, we connect as human beings, and we discover an aspect of ourselves that wants to belong with others, to nest into an ecosystem, and to see the good in giving for others’ sake.

Isn't this one of the highest gifts in life?