Let’s Get to Work

For all the good advice about musicianship and technique available today, one of the most powerful lessons a student can learn is how to train his or her own mind – in other words, how to practice.

There is little mystery in the process of developing a solid violin technique.  Famous pedagogue Ivan Galamian referred to the training of a young violinist as being a “scientific” process, meaning the fundamental skills could be analyzed and broken down into teachable elements.  My own teacher, Michael Frischenschlager, noted in his treatise that the countless young virtuosi at today’s international violin competitions stand as evidence that an astonishing technique can be deliberately and systematically trained by anyone willing to undergo such deliberate and systematic training!

It is a teacher’s job to share correct techniques of playing – a map and path up the mountain – but it is the student’s job to summon the mental will and vigor to complete the training.

It is not necessarily in our nature Continue reading

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Every violinist knows that practice, practice, practice – followed by more practice – is essential to making solid progress.

My own teacher, Michael Frischenschlager, often said, “It all begins with practicing.”  The daily ritual of taking the instrument out of its case, warming the fingers, finding one’s beautiful sound, spending time with the gorgeous repertoire – this is like an incubator for the musician’s soul.  Whatever wonderful ideas we have – whether how to hear the intonation in the exposition of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, an idea for an interesting performance project, or a new concept of inner pulse in unaccompanied Bach – these ideas only flourish in our minds if we spend daily quality time with the music and our instruments.

For the sake of this post, we will allow practicing to include not only the time consuming work of analyzing and overcoming technical obstacles in the repertoire, but also Continue reading