Owning my not-perfect

I had an interesting conversation with my violin teacher at the end of my lesson today. We’d been working through some technical things, tiny micro-problems and challenges. We’d spent nearly half an hour on the first 8 bars or so the Beethoven G major Romance. Every time I played it, I was dissatisfied with the imperfections. I’d slightly miss a shift. My fourth finger would be flat or sharp. My bow division through the phrase went slightly haywire and the phrase would end abruptly..with an apologetic whimper.

That’s all fine. These are the various pieces of the puzzle that make up the whole. I need to keep chipping away at these various technical things in my playing. The problem was, I was so focused on chipping away at these things that I was forgetting about the bigger picture. The bigger picture is that I improve as a musician. The bigger picture is that overall I become a better violinist. The bigger picture is that I have increased confidence in my skills and abilities. The bigger picture is that I trust myself when I play, knowing that if I have put the work into the little aspects of my playing that I can perform securely. It will never be perfect but I will be more satisfied today than I was yesterday, and happier tomorrow than I was today.

I was forgetting the bigger picture and somehow through our Skype connection, my teacher sensed it was time for some of this advice.

What’s the solution?

How do I find this trust and confidence in myself? How do I believe that I can play to the best of  my ability (which might be better than I think)?

I just have to play. At some point, I need to stop fussing over the details and play the music that I want to hear. I need to be the violinist I want to be, not the violinist I think I deserve to be in my less confident moments.

And here is a lesson for life.

(Cliche alert)

We do need to dance like no one is watching and sing like no one is listening. Life cannot be all rehearsal. It also has to have some performance. Each day only happens once. Ferris Bueller knew it and I think we all know it too. The challenge is in the doing.

So at the end of my lesson I picked up my violin and played those bars like no-one was listening. It was a step in the direction of trust and confidence. Of course it wasn’t perfect, but it was my not-perfect.

I took responsibility for the performance and played.

1 Comment »

One Response to “Owning my not-perfect”

  1. 2paw says:

    In sewing and knitting we say; it can be finished, or it can be perfect. I usually can’t be both.
    You can sometimes not see the forest for the trees, though it is easy to point that out to other people, hard to acknowledge it yourself. Well done to you and your teacher.

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