As many of you know, I teach private violin and viola lessons for a living. It is greatly rewarding, but also has its challenges. My biggest challenge is typically to motivate my students to practice. (Shocker). Over the years I have used various tactics, but lately I have found myself using running quotes and metaphors to give my students a dose of reality. Some of my favorites:
“Embrace the Suck.”
We use this all of the time in running, but I find it quite applicable to playing an instrument. I have students complain all of the time on how much it hurts one’s neck and jaw to hold up their instrument, or how their violin hickey (the rash we get in response to sweat, friction and varnished wood rubbing against one’s skin). My response is now, “Yup! Embrace the suck. If you want it, you’ll push through it and eventually it won’t hurt anymore.” (Disclaimer: I only use the term “suck” with older students and find alternative vocabulary for the younger kids)
“The hardest part is putting on your shoes.”
The hardest part of practicing is opening the instrument’s case. Once we get started with our daily practice, it’s usually not so bad. No one loves practicing (or running) all of the time, but we never regret doing it.
“Trust your training.”
We all know on race day how it feels to be prepared or not. The same thing applies to recitals and concerts. If we have put in sufficient personal practice and rehearsal time into our piece(s), then we are better able to keep our performance anxiety at bay. If not, well, it’s anybody’s guess as to what will happen.
“To give less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”
Need I say more?
Happy running….and practicing!