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The Three Ps of Success

So often people wonder why they are not progressing. I have been thinking about what it is that leads to success, and here are three key items:

Patience – I can’t tell you how many times I have had students come to me and say “I am still struggling with ____” after only a week or two.  Almost all skills on the violin will take more than a week or two to learn.  Skills can easily take months, or years to learn, and you can always keep improving on them!  Every time I practice, I am working toward improving my skills.  For example, I can play really high notes on the violin, but I know that I can improve that skill.  I continue to work on making my shifts more consistent and on getting a fuller sound.  I don’t think there will ever be a day when I think “there, now my shifting is perfect, and there is nothing left that I can improve upon!”  Patience is key.

Persistence – My husband can tell you that even at this age, even having played the violin as long as I have, I still get frustrated!  I still have days when I feel completely useless and like I can’t do anything right!  Some days this leads to me stomping around my practice studio getting mad about it.  Some days this leads to me putting my violin down and doing something else for a while.  Some days this leads to me eating ice cream (I know I shouldn’t be using food to make myself feel better, but there are days that that is what it takes…), but I don’t quit.  I know that there are days of music-making that are just plain going to suck, but I know that the overall journey is worth it!  The key is to accept the bad days, know that professionals have them too, and figure out some strategies to keep yourself going.  That could be playing older pieces that you know well.  It could look like revisiting pieces that you used to find hard to see how much progress you have made.  It could look like picking a different goal for now.  It could also look like eating a bowl of ice cream…  Just know that you can pick yourself up and try again tomorrow.

Practice – I imagine this is probably the one you would have expected me to list first.  Practice is certainly key, and regular practice is essential.  I have had many incredibly talented students who have not succeeded because of a lack of practice.  Remember that your sessions don’t have to be long, they need to be well focused, and regular. 

I hope you see progress in your playing, and please do remember these three key points.  When you are getting frustrated, remember that it takes time to learn an instrument, keep trying (although do change things up a bit), and make sure you keep practicing!

Happy fiddling!

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