About Practicing, Funktionsfreude, Exams, and the Studio Concert

A fellow teacher posted this excellent post on practising:


Yes, essentially this is what it is about:  It’s a parenting problem, not a music problem.

As a mom of 3, I’ve seen my children go one-by-one through the phase where they refuse to bath.  Well, I’m sorry to say, but bathing is not optional.  It might not be fun, as isn’t brushing your teeth or doing your homework or helping around the house, but are you going to let your child get away with being unwashed?

Nor is practising necessarily fun.  But if you don’t insist on your child practising, you’re wasting your money on lessons.  The teacher is not going to (even be able to) magically improve your child’s neurology and reflexes into being able to play the required pieces in only one short hour or half-hour per week.


There is this lovely little emotional feedback mechanism that is present in everyone, from toddler to gaffer, that is known in German as “Funktionsfreude“.  Funnily enough the French have translated it by now, as plaisir actif.  I can’t find an English translation.  Let me explain this concept by German psychologist Bühler, which was also mentioned by various other behavioural investigative scientists (antropologists et al) such as Lorenz.

This is most easily observed in a toddler helping Mommy wash the dishes:  The pleasure the child derives from the activity itself once it understands what is required.  Or think of a child who has just learned to turn a cartwheel.  That kid will cartwheel at every opportunity.  You don’t have to tell it:  “Go practise your cartwheels”.

The same happens when a talented kid “discovers” a new technique on the violin:  3rd position for one of my little ones, the trill for another.  They want to do it all the time.  Of course the technique doesn’t get hurt by constant repetition!

But here is the secret:

This “plaisir actif” can be cultivated.  This is especially visible in music:  The more you practise a difficult passage, the better it gets, and the easier it gets.  Eventually it simply purrs off your fingers, and this is the point when you want to play it again and again, because it’s fun.

The more you practise, the more aspects of violin become like that.  Eventually you play simply for the joy of your fingers moving with such facility.  And you’re also a joy to listen to at that point, believe me.

So, parents and students, the key is to keep going until you reach that point.  Don’t stop before you are there.  Because what is actually happening at that point is a positive feedback loop in your brain that pumps out endorphins every time it went well.  What a fantastic way to lift your mood!

Ok.  Down to some practical arrangements now:

1. The Studio Concert is scheduled for the 22nd of May, 18h at the usual place.

Be there at 17h30 at the very latest; tuning, preparation etc all takes time and we’d like to start on time.

Twinklers in 2010.  Recognize 2 of them?
Yes, still the same place.

2. Exam entries:

Though Trinity gives us until 30 June to apply for end-year grade exams, I’d like to get the entries done, so that there is no stress closer to the date.

The exam fees need to go in with the application; this means either you need to pay them into the Trinity account and send me a proof of payment, or pay them to me and I’ll pay them to Trinity.  I very much prefer the first method but am prepared to work with the second one too, so the choice is yours.

The exam fees are as follows (from the TCL website):

Screenshot (5)

Source:  Trinity website, http://www.trinitycollege.com/site/?id=2376


One thought on “About Practicing, Funktionsfreude, Exams, and the Studio Concert”

  1. Reblogged this on Violin Tricks and commented:

    I would like to direct my students and previous students to this post from 2015… if you become good at something, you will enjoy doing it! “Plaisir actif” or “Funktionsfreude”. Still looking for an English term for it.

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