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Mastering Your Instrument: Unlocking the Secrets to an Outstanding Performance

You may remember from a couple of weeks ago that I was preparing for a concert, and I was struggling with one of the pieces. I’m writing this as a followup to my last post, Overcoming Defeat: My Process for Musical Success, so read that first if you’d like to hear more about the initial struggles I was having with rehearsing for a recent baroque concert.

I couldn’t wait to share the exciting updates now that the concert has come and passed—it was an absolute blast, and the hard work paid off!

A couple of Fridays ago during our dress rehearsal, my musical partner noticed a significant improvement in my playing. Curious about the magic sauce behind the transformation? So, what was the magic sauce, let me tell you:

1. The Metronome: Not Just for Speed

Contrary to popular belief, the metronome isn’t just for playing faster—it’s a secret weapon for maintaining steady, controlled tempos. In my preparation, slowing down with the metronome became a game-changer. Tackling challenging sections at a manageable pace not only enhanced precision but also prevented the common urge to rush through difficult parts.

2. Double Stops Made Simple: Focus on the Melody

Double stops can be overwhelming with all those notes, right? The key for me was to focus on the melody notes. This not only improved my tuning, but also took off the pressure of hitting every note perfectly. Believe it or not, once you master the melody, the additional notes become nice embellishments (shh, don’t tell the composer). It takes the pressure off and actually makes hitting both notes easier because you aren’t clenching so much!

3. The Honest Ear: Recording and Listening

There’s no better judge than a recording. The raw truth of recordings reveals nuances that our live playing might conceal. It’s a reality check—what feels and sounds right in the moment might not align with the playback. Listening back helped me identify consistently out-of-tune notes and fine-tune my performance for a more polished outcome.

Committing to Growth

The concert’s success wasn’t just a stroke of luck—it was the result of intentional practices. As I reflect on the journey, one commitment stands out: recording myself more. It’s a pledge to continuous improvement, using the recording as a guide to refine and elevate my playing.

Until next time, happy fiddling!

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