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technique_doc
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I've spent the day reading Harvey Penick - golf guru and thoroughly modest pedagogue. It occurs to me that so much of his attitude is just as relevant to Violin as Golf; are there any other things (interests/hobbies/skills) that are frighteningly similar? Would anyone like to share their approach to something that is SO similar to learning/playing music?

T_D

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Hey, t_doc

I teach college writing and frequently analogize between music performance and writing. I know that stuff like physical mechanics or dexterity doesn't correlate (in contrast to golf), but many performance issues do--style, voice, technique, phrasing, cadence, etc. These aren't exactly "transferrable skills"--just shared concerns.

When I try to teach the importance of correct grammar and mechanics (even spelling)--and my students groan and reply, "But you knew what I meant"--I compare this failing to the violinist who plays out of tune. Ultimately, no matter how facile or emotionally deep his playing, no matter how contrasting the dynamics or well-paced the tempi of the performance, the audience walks away with one thought: That guy can't play in tune. In this single respect, a kid playing "Twinkle" with perfect intonation will create a better musical impression than his brilliant adult counterpart. Although correct grammar and mechanics won't, in and of themselves, make one a GREAT writer, any more than perfect intonation will make one a GREAT player, gross failure to achieve either can kill the spirit of a piece, whether written or played, and leave a very negative impression of the performer/writer.

....I always think about the impression left by one student who just couldn't spell. She wanted to describe her handsome, well-groomed, (coincidentally!) golf-playing boyfriend, who always placed her not on a pedestal, but on a "pedal-stool" and who treated her in a gentlemanly "manor." Always the natty dresser, he was just this side of perfect, and she searched for the word "immaculate" to describe his clothes. Unfortunately, she was using a computer, and her initial misspelling, "emaculate," was compounded by the helpful spelling checker, the suggestion of which she unquestioningly accepted. So, instead of his "immaculate shirts," she ended up with his "emasculate shirts." --!!!!!!

And to think, some people spend years trapped in a comma, alive yet never waking.....

J.

PS. I speak from experience: a bad speller (lysdexia) and, at times, careless performer! --I mean, I couldn't even spell "dyslexic" when editing this post!

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I took up yoga to improve flexibility but some of the poses, particularly ones involving balance, also develop your concentration. A violist friend who has been doing yoga longer & more regularly found that as her ability to hold these poses improved, her ability to concentrate in orchestra improved as well. A nice bonus considering what a scatterbrain I can be in orchestra. I know that people who practice a martial art have similar experiences.

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'I do not think that it is nearly as absorbing, interesting and deeply engrossing as the violin'.

You're right hence the fact that I chose Violin as my Vocation......if only all those sporty types really appreciated the level of skill in arts pursuits. You can become good at golf in a very short time and the possibilites (technique/execution/strategy) are way short of where they are with Violin.

T_D

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"if only all those sporty types really appreciated the level of skill in arts pursuits."

When I see a boxer in action, gaining the upper hand because of combined experience, and skill gained through heavy training, I think of the violin and how similar dedication is needed, and success is gained through an almost warlike pursuit to achieve conquest over all obstacles. Those obstacles are many and varied.

I applaud for very much when I applaud a great performance.

I have just confirmed my ticket to see Hilary Hahn at Montalvo on Feb 5. Will I see any of you there?

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Well said, yes.

The truth is that.... 'how similar dedication is needed, and success is gained through an almost warlike pursuit to achieve conquest over all obstacles. Those obstacles are many and varied'. I agree.

It does however stike me that *we* (some) don't always appreciate the skills in another discipline enough. I applaud a top performance in any activity - different disciplines, same goals but never underestimate the dedication of making it into the upper tier of your particular endeavour.

T_D

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I had a plumbing leak and it was causing water to come up under the floor and was soaking the carpet. So I had to turn the water off at the city connection and go without water for days, kinda like camping I say. When the plumber got there, he fixed it in a few minutes: he had an assistant turn on the main valve while he remained in the house near where the water had showed up, he noticed a hissing sound which was air being forced through the leak, he quickly went to the bathroom following the sound and located the source just as the water came back to the system and the sound stopped. It was in a connection behind the faucet in the shower, which he quickly repaired.

You see skills demonstrated everywhere when people choose careers that they are devoted to. A job well done is a thing of beauty.

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In reply to:

Golf centers mostly around relaxing.


You obviously don't golf with the same golfers I know.

I just heard a report this evening on NPR about a study the Mayo Clinic is doing on "yips" among golfers (i.e., golfers who freeze up or have tremors under pressure). They're trying to pinpoint how much is physiological as opposed to psychological and to identify treatments; one of the specific items they're studying are beta blockers. It's really an interesting project and of course the results would transfer pretty easily to performers who have difficulty playing at 100% under pressure.

Mayo Clinic - Yips in Golf

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In reply to:

Golf centers mostly around relaxing.

You obviously don't golf with the same golfers I know.

How funny!!

I'm not going to comment on the relaxation part only that like Violin there is a constant battle with control vs. tension. When I hit the ball, I'm not relaxed, or when I play ff for a page of semiquavers in a concerto.

I honestly believe that experience under pressure (on Violin) helped my golf. I remember once having to make a great score on the last three holes for my team to have a chance. I started to get nervous and then thought.......'on the Violin you have little or no time to deal with this'. Here, you have time between each action and slightly off target (for one shot) doesn't guarantee disaster.......pull yourself together'. I did, but I had to have the comparison and expereince of something much more difficult to get through it.

T_D

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I just logged on after a number of weeks, and I think your topic is very interesting.

I liken studying violin to ballet, for a number of reasons:

1. When starting out, it is overwhelming all the things you have to remember and concentrate on (hold in your stomach, straighten your arm, point your foot, and on and on.......)

2. Even budding ballet students can look beautiful if they listen to the music (as in the case of the violin if they listen to it in their heads) and allow their souls to absorb it - the result is obvious as they move (or play). Perhaps the ballerina who moves with grace is like the violin player who plays with good intonation.

3. Notwithstanding No. 2 point above, technique is essential for true expression.

4. With both ballet and violin, you can really injure yourself if you are not careful (or Heaven forbid you have a careless teacher).

5. Both take many years and lots of work to develop.

That's my 2c worth. Glad you asked!

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