How to Find Discipline to Practice the Violin
You don’t need to push yourself every day to learn to play the violin
You can get fast progress without discipline! Use this strategy instead:
As a small business owner my to-do list is enormous and my work is never finished. After eleven years of pushing, grinding and hustling I decided to try out something different in the last weeks: I ONLY take inspired action.
What’s inspired action?
Do you sometimes have that soft loving voice in your mind that tells you things to do that are good for you? It can be taking rest, going to the gym, eating something healthy or playing the violin. This voice can inspire you to discover new sound possibilites on the violin, to explore different interpretations of the piece you are playing or to perfect that difficult passage.
Discipline is something entirely different
This comes from a place of forcing yourself, pushing, doing something you don’t REALLY want to do. You are not connected to why you want to do something. You are not connected to the dream you have and how it inspires you every single day to pick up your violin. Discipline is being harsh to yourself.
This works for my business as well as my violin playing
It feels very scary in the beginning. You have to unlearn things you learned at school where MUST do all kinds of things you don’t want. You must let go of planning. You must feel useful even though you’re not frantically rushing through scales and etudes. Maybe you feel inspired to focus on one phrase and really make it sound exactly like you want.
When I tried inspired action vs discipline, I got more done in my business and I got faster progress on the violin
The thing is that you do the things you need to do and MORE! In my business it meant that I did the right things in the right time: when I was most inspired and in the right energy.
For my violin playing it meant that I let go of the planning that I needed to ‘finish’ that scale, etude or piece. My practicing took less energy, but was more precise. I focussed on small things and made them sound really really beautiful. I was more patient.
I practiced longer, because I felt more energized
One day I just practiced a couple of pages of a Bach fugue for hours. Another day I looked at a Paganini caprice and experimented with bowing techniques. Some days I played all repertoire on my music stand.
Why do you play violin? What inspires you right now?
Try this practice strategy out today. Before you start, think about why you’re actually playing the violin. What’s your dream? What or who inspires you? Share this in the comments below. After that, practice! Get back to the comment section and let me know the difference in what you did or felt.
Enjoy playing around with inspiration! Let it fuel your practice every single day!
Great. Very good advice. I’ve just created a ‘practice plan’ and it’s very tiring sticking to it. Lol!!
Thanks for reading, Anthony, good that you’re using a practice plan! What repertoire are you playing at the moment?
Thanks very much for this article, Zlata! You have articulated something that is very important in violin and life. My one question would be: How do you combine inspired action with something like Perlman’s practice schedule that you recommend in another article? I am trying to find the balance between structure and flow. Also, I just want to say that I have read many of your articles and really appreciate them. I am very inspired by your business and lifestyle story!
Thanks, Annie, doesn’t Perlman’s schedule feel inspired to you? How could you make the different components more inspiring? Be a bit creative how you apply them. And you can mix it up on different days. Some days could be technique heavy, other days could be repertoire heavy.
Thanks for your reply, Zlata! Yes, it is inspiring! But there are always days when inspiration and flow are hard to come by, so I might try to think more creatively and mix it up on those days.
Yes, we all have those days. Sometimes it really is just work.
At 73, I decided to learn violin after years of piano playing. A raw beginner, even after 1 year, and a busy caregiver, I am glad to read your helpful note on inspired action. It’s difficult enough to find time to do restful activities for myself; playing my violin is not ‘restful’ yet, so that may be why I avoid it. I’ll keep trying. You’ve given me something new to try.
Or… is there perhaps a way you can practice in which the violin feels like a restful activity?