Ordinary People Lead Ordinary Lives

As you know, I do not work regular hours.  I work late afternoons/evenings, I work weekends, I work sporadically. my schedule changes often, but the one constant is (not baseball) generally I can run my errands during the weekday when stores are less busy.  This works well with my aversion to crowds (and aversion to people).

I went to Target yesterday afternoon.  It was PACKED!  I always forget how busy these places are on weekends.  I decided to shop anyway because there were a few things I needed, and it wasn’t as busy as it could have been.  (No panic attacks…).  I ignored the Christmas decorations section.  We are going to decorate after Thanksgiving.  Not before.

While I was there (a trip that ordinarily takes 30 minutes took twice that) I learned that there would be some things coming up that I might need to be putting in quite a lot of practice time for.  I initially freaked out, after all, I’ve got a darned wedding coming up and between that and teaching, how can I adequately prepare?  Then I calmed down and realized I definitely have a spare couple of hours in the day if I organize myself properly, and after all, isn’t that the whole point of everything I’ve been doing my entire life?  If I can’t be ready on short notice to play the violin at a really high level, then I might as well just pack it in.

My mind went to my running.  I’ve never shied away from hard work, but I’ve been putting that hard work into exercising rather than violin over the past few years.  It makes sense:  I see quicker results and constant improvement for only 6 to 7 hours of effort each week.  Versus for violin, I could put in 20 to 25 hours of effort each week and not necessarily see improvement plus just be setting myself up for injury and failure.  Then again, if I can run three half marathons in six weeks, surely I can put a few hours of practice a day in on the violin.  Correlation?  Very little.  Did it convince me to go home and practice?  Yes.

Practicing is a tough business.  I always encourage my students to practice daily though most of them do not.  I always hated to practice growing up, and it was a constant battle between my mother and me.  That’s very common.  Even those of us who love music so much that we do it for a living–that doesn’t mean we like practicing.  It just means we understand the correlation between practicing and being able to perform well.  I suppose some people might like practicing…I just don’t know them very well.  And it’s not that I hate practicing—it’s that there are other things I would rather be doing.  I like being good at the violin, that’s why I do it.

Since graduating from school, practicing for me has been more sporadic.  It depends on what else is going on in my life, what music I am preparing, and what sort of performances and auditions are coming up.  I’d love to be more consistent, say, practicing 2 hours a day throughout my life, but it’s just not possible for me.  I need regular mental and physical breaks from the violin.  (And I consider 2 hours to be not that much practicing, just so you know—in school I tried for 4 hours a day, and that is on the low side for what people do.  Sometimes it was more.)

This is part just a random blog, but part of me trying to put more on the “violin” part of Hannahviolin.  I had a request to write more about my audition experience and the audition process and preparation, and that’s something I’ve been rolling around in my head.  Musician readers:  what would YOU like to read about?  Non-musician readers, feel free to answer that as well 🙂

30 days of Thanksgiving:  I’m thankful I can complain about having to practice in my free time, because it means I have free time.

6 thoughts on “Ordinary People Lead Ordinary Lives”

  1. one of the things I’m so looking forward to about finishing my master’s this may is reclaiming my mornings for myself like they used to be during my four years out of school between undergrad and master’s. I LOVE having my mornings free! And when my mornings are open I really don’t mind the late night rehearsals.

    I should really practice more too… I’ve been pondering a lot lately about what it means to be driven and to what degree I ought to be… if that makes any sense.

    audition posts are definitely interesting! as are cute cats of course.

  2. Just in general, I think I enjoy hearing other musicians’ stories. Not really sure, but I feel like the story of the professional musician is a secretive one. Definitely more now than before, I think I kind of am closer to understanding perhaps why, and that’s because we all had to work so hard and maybe the more mundane details of how we practiced or how much gets lost in the vortex of years of playing. But regardless, I enjoy feedback and insight on anything concerning the violin–experiences (or frustrations maybe?!) with orchestral excerpts, the process of playing behind a screen the first round and then without it once you advanced; I don’t know.. maybe it’s because the whole audition process is so elusive and difficult, and we’ve all failed so much (!) that we want to know what we’re doing wrong and learn how to fix it and improve.

    But mostly, I just enjoy the story telling:)

  3. I enjoy practicing more now that I pretty much only do it on stolen time (there is ALWAYS something else I feel I should be doing, or people who need/want my attention.) But I hate practicing as a kid, too. You’re right. It’s WORK! There was a moment that I realized how much and in what cool ways the work paid off, and it became very worth it, but it was always work.

    Sort of an aside, but something I learned from practicing (and have applied to things like exercise and writing) is to learn to trust the work. That if I put in the time and effort, I will improve. Maybe that’s a little obvious, but I’m not convinced everybody knows that. It would be easy for me to think I’m just a slow, lazy runner, and I don’t write like so-and-so and let it go, but I’ve gotten to experience slowly working through etude books, or doing scales every single day for years and getting real, tangible results, and it’s helped me to see that I can apply that effort to other areas of my life and expect real changes there, as well.

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