Saturday, September 7, 2013

How to Learn to Play the Violin

I love my students, I really do.  Each week, it is a joy to help each one reach that "a-ha!" moment, when all I've been trying to teach suddenly clicks for that person.  And, of course, it's always sad when the week ends and we have to go back to our routines.  For my students, it may be the 9-5 grind, or a house full of kids, or a busy retirement with volunteer work, or for some, even another workshop.

The one thing I stress when the workshop ends is:  Keep painting.   Not just once a year when you take a workshop.  I mean, keep painting every day or at least on a regular,  frequent schedule.  If you're serious about becoming a better painter,  you have to practice as much as possible.

I like to compare it to learning to play the violin.  No one expects to get good at playing the violin - even halfway good - by pulling the violin out of its case just once a year.  You'll sound like Jack Benny at his worst.  (Above is a wonderful clip of Jack Benny and the great Isaac Stern performing a Bach piece.) How can painting students expect to get any good if they pull out the brushes only when they take a workshop?  You'll hit all the wrong notes, time and time again.

To get good at the violin, you need regular, disciplined practice.  Not just practice with your violin teacher, but practice on your own.  It's the same with painting.  You must practice not just in workshops, but on your own time, and on a schedule.

I know that's easier said than done.  In a future post, I'll give you some suggestions for improving your discpline.

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