Here’s a trick to be used very sparingly. But sometimes, it’s all one can do.
One of my students was getting so discouraged by the impending exams, he thought of chucking in the towel for violin altogether.
I told him, that’s fine. It’s up to him how much or how little, and in which way, he practises for the upcoming exams. So to the stress of his mother, he took a full four days break and didn’t practise at all.
When we got back together he sounded – surprisingly, better. Now the point is this. He is actually on top of the pieces. But he was losing his confidence, and that deteriorates one’s sound. One gives up.
Music lives on energy. If the impression that one isn’t good enough eats at one’s core, that energy drains away and what comes out does indeed sound pathetic. Stress and exams can do this. So by not practising at all for a few days and embracing the idea that failing was in fact an option, he took a step back and relaxed.
His hands and arms rested, and his energy rebuilt itself. What came out when he retook, was great.
I’d love to compare this to life; there are sometimes situations where in order to make progress, one has to take a step back. Both he and I learned a valuable lesson, and I believe we both benefited.
The exams are on Wednesday. Wish us all luck! 🙂