I had my first lesson with a violin professor this past Thursday. I felt a bit nervous about it because although he said that I was great and all, I didn’t feel deserving of his compliments. Maybe he’d listen to my playing and be discouraged.
Instead, though, I walked out of the studio with a new perspective.
I actually thought that maybe we’d just talk and that I wouldn’t have to play. But then after some discussion about the pieces I’d played before and how the week went, Professor Conklin asked me to play the Mozart cadenza I’d played for my audition (which, by the way, I hadn’t touched again since the audition two weeks ago…).
Moment of truth, I told myself. This is it. If this doesn’t fly, then I’m done.
I did mess up as I was playing but it was okay. And then we got down to the details and Professor started to zoom in on the details, just as my other teachers did. But he was really kind when he suggested better ways to play but I still felt a bit antsy, as if him pointing out details was a way to say that I wasn’t good enough. Ahaha, welcome back paranoia~
But then he said something that made me stop and think. He was telling me to add more vibrato (as Silviu, my other teacher, also often said) but he said that vibrato was what added the human touch to the music. And although his statement was just about vibrato, it made me stop and think.
That’s what music should be. Putting the human touch to simple notes. That’s why it’s music. Just like Professor Conklin said, we have to let the music sing through us.
And that’s why music shouldn’t be competitive. I’d heard both the violinists in the studio and the professor say that, but now I get it. Music isn’t competitive with others, it’s competitive with us to try to get the best sound and the best way to express what we feel inside.
It’s kind of a weird concept for me not to take music as a competition. I mean, competition was the main reason why I practiced so hard. I didn’t like that someone younger than me was better, so I worked extra hard to catch up. So almost instinctively I look around to see who I can catch up to, who I can try to beat.
But that’s not the purpose of music. Music is supposed to be for yourself.