In the musical world, competition is something you might expect. We willingly sign ourselves up for competitions, and go to concerts to hear other musicians perform. Every time we hear someone else play the violin, we instantly think “I want her intonation!” ‘I want her sound quality!” “She can play so fast!” What we don’t realize everyone looks at us the same way when we play. When I am performing, I see the worst aspects of my performance magnified and I truly believe everyone else see’s this also. In fact, others see the performance the way it really was, which probably isn’t as bad as you think. Even if you don’t have a great performance, others will be much more forgiving of you than you will be.
What we also don’t realize is what goes on behind the scenes of the performance. Maybe your friend who you thought played amazingly, practices six hours every day. That is the reason she became amazing. If you only practice two hours a day and are upset because your friends who practice more are improving faster, their practice is the reason for the improvement.
I want to be a violinist more than I have ever wanted anything in my entire life. Sometimes I don’t want to do my homework, so I wait and do it Saturday night or Suanday afternoon instead of Friday afternoon. Sometimes I don’t want to go for a run, so I do it later. These things are important to me, but I don’t have as great of a motivation to do them. With music, it is easy for me to get up and go practice because I know I have to. I know that if I don’t, everything I dream of could go away. Even at 5:00 in the morning when I really don’t want to get up I do because I have a dream that my life will one day be great. My life will be great because of what I am doing today. This day of dedication and work, and ultimately joy is the reason that I will ultimately achieve my goal.
Instead of comparing myself to other students who may be better than me, it is importnat to realize the work that I put in and the improvments I am making in my playing slowly every day, every week and every year.
Each instrument in a group has a certain role, each equally important. Most people make the mistake of thinking that because first violin’s usually have the melody, they are always the most important. The first violins melody should be heard above the other parts, but audiences should understand that the melody wouldn’t sound the same if the other voices or counter-melodies weren’t there.
The second violin has many different roles in both chamber music and orchesral music, one of which is playing the melody. The first violin doesn’t always get the melody. This type of writing is less common in classical era music where the first violin dominates, but in more contemporary music, the second violin takes the melody quite often.
Sometimes, the second violin imitates what the first violin or any other instrument has just played. Sometimes the imitation is just the same rhythym with different notes, and sometimes the second violins imitate the exact same line.
When the second violin has any kind of steady continuing rhythym, their job is to keep the melody in line rhythmically. This is boring to play, but so important to the whole group.
Often times the second violin will be in octaves with the first violin and then the second violin should play much louder. This helps to support the first violin as he/she climbs higher on the violin.
It is important to remember that the second violin part is important to the piece and you can have fun playing it! Think of playing second violin like a service to the group. You may rather play first violin, but the group needs a second violin! Remember to play loud and confidantly and have fun listening the group.
Wether you are starting lessons with a new teacher, or are just having a single lesson with a professor at a conservatory, having a lesson with a new teacher can be intimidating. I frequently travel to have lessons with teachers from different schools, or have lessons with different teachers at summer music programs. Over the many first lessons I have experienced, I have realized what I did in some of my lessons that either helped or hurt my experience with the teacher.
A lot of your experience during the lesson obviously depends on the teacher and the way your way of learning corresponds to the teaching, but what you may not know is that some of the outcome is in your hands. Everything you do counts even from before you start to play. When you walk into the lesson, you should of course greet the teacher and try to make things less nerve wracking by saying how much you admire the teacher, or how grateful you are for a lesson. In most cases, the teacher reciprocates by asking you questions about yourself which loosens the atmosphere before you play. The most important thing wether the teacher is friendly to you or not, is that you don’t show weakness. When the teacher asks you what you would like to show them, you must have an answer ready. Do not allow the teacher to pick what they would like to hear. This gives the teacher the idea that they can have control over you and this can lead to a terrible lesson. Be ready to play the piece you suggest. The most important thing is to play like you are in a concert, so that means with musicality and technicality, just doing the best you can. You may not know if the teacher will have you play a few measures or the whole movement before stopping you, but be prepared for anything. The most important thing is to always have a strong response to any questioning and always defend your own view as well as that of your private teacher.
The other important thing in a lesson is knowing why you came. You may want to ask about a specific passage. If that is the case, don’t be afraid to ask, teachers love to get questions! If you don’t have a specific concern but just want to improve your overall performance, than you must be willing to change something in your playing or at least be willing to try a new way of doing something and see how you like it. Trying new things is the only way to find out how you really want to play the piece and this teacher might be able to give you a new view.
These are just a few tips on how to have a successful lesson with a new teacher. This is just what has worked for me and I hope these ideas will help with your first time lessons in future.
The main question amidst all of the work is why are we playing music anyway? Why am I committing my whole life to a dream that may or may not happen? Everyone has a different answer to this question, but my answer is that I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. I would not be happy doing anything else everyday day. Music is not work, it is what I love to do. Music is such a gamble and takes hard work, and if you can imagine a life without a musical career, I would suggest following that other career. Becoming a musician is not a life for someone who wants normalcy.
I often have people telling me that they worry that I don’t have a normal life and that I will not experience common rites of passage, such as going to pop concerts, shopping at the mall, playing on a sports team, etc. because I am inside practicing. I always respond by saying that if I wanted a normal life, I would have it. If I wanted to go shopping or play sports, I would do it. I love to play violin and in order to do that as my career in the future, it takes hard work that I am willing to put in. I don’t want a normal life because I am not normal. I am happy that I am different and we should celebrate the fact that I am living the life that I want to live, and creating a future for myself. If you feel passion for something, go tackle it with all the energy you can because that is how you live your life to the fullest with no regrets.
Many people believe that classical music is a dying art and that in a few generations, there will be no such thing. I, on the other hand, believe the future of classical music is very bright. It is my job, as a young musician, to share my passion with others who could grow up to do the same. Music is an art that will continue to be passed down. We need to introduce classical music to children at an early age, before their views are tainted by other children, who are pressuring them into the realm of pop music. Classical music creates feelings that words cannot describe. Classical music isn’t boring because it is a story of history, and a metaphor for life. As long as people continue to see this, classical music will continue to thrive.