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What motivates you?


string-along
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I just like playing the violin. Some of my friends like to play golf or play tennis so they play golf or play tennis.

I have never heard any of them say "I won't be any good before my arthritis gets me and I can't play tennis any more". To the contrary, my wife wants to visit a new country every year so that she can enjoy traveling before the arthritis gets her and she can't travel any more.

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"I won't be any good before my arthritis makes me quit all together, why do I bother?"

For that matter, what keeps ANY of us going? After all, the only advantage of having a few extra years is that if you work your butt off for said years, you might be... what? A "bit better"? "Any good"? What does that extra amount of skill actually do for us? Are our goals what keep us going, or is it the pure pleasure of playing, both, or something else? Its worth thinking about... otherwise what keeps us going on the bad days?

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Hi String-along,

If you ask people this question " Do you want to eat a nice dessert? "

Some will say " No, Thanks, I am on diet" other will say " Yes, Of course"

I think play violin is a treat. I will practice as much as I can. The enjoyment is

tremendous. When you are young, there are many worries. For example, school work(to get in the best school),

family (financial security), job responsibilty (impress your boss) etc. Your mind cannot put

completely into daily the practice. The prioity just was not there.

Goal? Play violin music for enjoyment ( better be alone .

try to play most well-known pieces with forgivable mistakes)

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quote:


Originally posted by:
string-along

I am interested in what keeps adult violin students going.

1) Love it.

2) Love it.

3) Love it.

Oh, did I mention I love it?

Adults that take up the violin don't normally do it with aspirations to reach Carnegie Hall. I certainly didn't, not starting at age 39 anyway! I've never had any particular goals, though the one thing I hoped for after I had been playing a few years was to get competent enough to be asked to play in my teacher's pro string quartet, even if it was only once. I did accomplish that dream two summers ago when she asked me to sub for her second violinist at a wedding reception. I'm still on her back burner as a sub, but that more because my body keep fighting my being reliable (carpal tunnel, foot injury, bad back, etc., etc.) not because she thinks I flubbed up the first time! I've always said I don't do this for money, but I had to admit it was seriously cool to get paid! Since I really don't ever want to associate my playing with money, I took what I was paid and bought new curtains for my music room.

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I busk for leukaemia research. (Every Thurs morning for 31/2 hrs)

I am a surviver and wish to pay back the team who have kept me alive for the past 10 yrs.

I have had $67,000 Aus thrown into my violin case and pray I may reach $100,000 Aus.

As well I teach 25 students and at 72 yrs I am fully extended!

By the way - I love to play as well and it is my music that has kept me going.

Busker.

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For me making violins is instantly rewarding. I just feel like I've

done something worthy of doing. Also, I'm constantly reminded that

I can't do anything else as well as I can make and adjust violins.

For example when I try photography, or when I try playing the

violin I'm just disgusted with the results that I've produced, even

if they're not THAT bad. I suppose you just need to enjoy the

practice and constant repetition somehow, and to somehow feel that

each time there's something subtle, new, and challenging happening.

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I agree with yuen,

Playing violin is definetely a special treat beyond every thing, may be an addiction. Some time not every time, If the sound is special, It is triggering a wonderful journey, I start flying around the galaxies, passing nearby the brightest stars, getting lost in milkyways that have not been even seen by hubble.

Playing a violin with a good sound is a great source of energy and gusto, even the smell of air changes.

That is right, this is some thing which is not easy to feel when I had tons of garbage in my life, like final exams or break up with my stupid girl friend or success in the new job, etc..

May be I am concantrating better then ever now.. Any way I like it.

Good subject. Thanks

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But seriously. I think it's because we need benchmarks.

Ask a four year old what it means to be four -- and what five will

bring:

"I'll get a big-kids bike, and when I'm six I'll come home on the

real bus instead of the short one"

Ten is for sleepovers, twelve is for having different teachers for

different classes, thirteen is for getting your ears pierced and

babysitting, fifteen means better movies and learners permits and

the weekend curfew goes to a much cooler time.Eighteen - whoa! And

then the big Twenty One!

The SAT's, virginity, beer, travel to another country, finally

getting Shakespeare, losing a friend, falling in love, credit card,

cell phone, death of someone close, first apartment, first real

paycheck, there are all of these benchmarks, rites of passage,

upgrades, rituals.

Then they sorta slack off - or get transferred to one's own kids

(first tooth, first day of school, big-kids bike) - or at least,

get spread further apart: the masters, the PhD, the promotion, the

last mortgage payment (Ha! don't I wish!)

What true personal benchmarks do we track after, say, forty? The

way your butt gets a little closer to the floor every year? The

hair line sliding baaaack? Can't you just feel those brain cells

slipping off into oblivion?

How about benchmarks of GROWTH?

How about something to take the place of marks on a doorframe?

Violin for my students is about being bigger, better, more, inch by

inch: NOW I can use my fourth finger, back then I couldn't. By next

week I'll have the Vivaldi memorized.

(And for me? Language and dance. Three more verbs this week, and I

first nailed a triple pirouette back on my thirty fifth birthday.

Brain and body may be slipping away but what's left is going to

keep getting more and more well-trained, by gosh.)

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Any answer can only be given once the question is understood, which makes this an interesting exercise. A direct answer as to what motivates many an adult student is probably found right here:

quote:


....inch by inch: NOW I can use my fourth finger, back then I couldn't. By next week I'll have the Vivaldi memorized.

Why should the experience of going ever upward not be the same motivational factor for an adult as it is for a child?

But back to the question. Are you asking as a teacher who has child-students and adult-students and looking to the inner life as a means of helping the task of teaching? Or as a fellow adult grappling with issues of adulthood, "aging" (whatever that means once you get past the stereotypes and some of the obvious truths), and what all of that means?

The first thing I see are negative views about being adult, and some of these begin to make sense when the philosophy of living life according to external goals or benchmarks is concerned. The views you express become very rich for exploration and go all the way to modern society. Fascinating!

quote:


What keeps adult students going? What keeps you from saying "I won't be any good before my arthritis makes me quit all together, why do I bother?"

When I am sitting down to a juicy steak, would you ask me, as I shove forkful after forkful into my mouth what keeps me going? Why should I have arthritis or ever get arthritis? Why should I expect to get arthritis? I don't plan on getting it. Besides, all of us, even the youngest, will eventually be a pile of bones under some mound of earth as far as our achievements and aspirations here are concerned: the Afterlife and our spiritual achievements is another story. At least death is inevitable. But arthritis? Actually, I am much more physically comfortable at 50 than I was at 20 because I know how to use my body better.

Similar negative views about what the future holds and the state of adulthood in general:

quote:


What true personal benchmarks do we track after, say, forty? The way your butt gets a little closer to the floor every year? The hair line sliding baaaack? Can't you just feel those brain cells slipping off into oblivion?

I'm over 50 so I don't have to worry about what happens after 40 - I'm there. I'll have to let someone else tell my what my butt is doing, but I haven't noticed any floor-seeking tendencies to date. As I wrote previously, my posture is better than it was when I was a teen. That stuff about brain cells is absolute pure nonsense. The biggest enemies to any enterprise one can undertake are fear and self-concept. My hair is still where I left it 20 years ago. There's some gray which t's me off, and my eyes won't adjust which makes for some interesting poses at the music stand if I'm given sight reading music, but that's the only thing, really. Fortunately I use my sense of touch and hearing for music and they're fine, thank you. Well, I have lost some sense of touch, but that's becuase of the violin, through the callouses on my fingertips. For a left hander that leads to some interesting results as you try to pick up the pennies from the store counter and can't really feel them. Instant right handedness!

Ok, then we go to the view of life being a series of benchmarks. Is it, for everyone, and for every child? I have left out part of the quote regarding childhood motivation for that reason. It's adults who put the tape measure against the wall and make a big deal about how much the child has grown. Society sets the goals of what grade you are in, being allowed to drink beer and the rest. These are all external benchmarks and we are all motivated by at least some of them, however unconventional one may be, but they are external things. Partly these "motivational" things keep people together as part of society, and it keeps us in line. We start "wanting" to graduate into the next grade, following this or the other thing. But it's not the only kind of motivation that exists. Your little kid who gets to use the fourth finger: o.k. so far. But is it because of self-concept: he's now doing what the big kids do? That part, of course, I cannot identify with as an adult. The achievement of the fourth finger, yes.

The smallest child wants to achieve something because he wants to achieve it. There is little concept of self, self within the grand scheme of things, a certain "sweeping the floor just like mommy does", or "this looks like fun", but the attention is also simply on the activity itself. I want to get that banana into my mouth because I want to get that banana into my mouth. As a new mother I kept a record of one of my children's first achievements. Trying to get up into a crawl: stayed 5 seconds before collapsing, after a few days stayed 2 minutes before collapsing, added the first step backward and then collapsed. Sounds an awful lot like learning to play the violin, to me! We adults supply the benchmark! If a child does not crawl by a certain age, something is seriously wrong and we rush to a pediatrician. The child, however, has no benchmark.

In fact, are benchmarks not a means for external people to guide those who need to be guided? And then we share them with those we guide?

What happens to the internal motivation? I think we can lose contact with that part of ourselves. It happens to all of us to some extent, especially as we become embroiled in the running around called life. Then one day we wake up and look around, still looking for more benchmarks, and can't find any. If these benchmarks are societal, you can bet your bottom dollar that this society is geared at creating its "human resources", which peaks at having formed "productive" people. After that, the product formed, there is no more interest and so it's natural to look around and start wondering when you reach the magical age of 30, 35, or especially, 39, with the big "4" around the corner. You think that's scary: try starting the violin when you are about to turn 50!

I would think that the answer lies first of all in the type of motivation a small child has before he is influenced by adult benchmarks. It is enormously satisfying to use the 4th finger well, do a vibrato, elicit "that tone" from the instrument, do a smooth shift, create just the sound you are looking for, find an old recording and discover how much you have improved, or bring tears (of the right kind) into the eyes of someone else. This kind of motivation spans all time.

Secondly there are indeed goals. Going for the exams of whatever grade, preparing for solos, can be a mental trick of stimulation to keep going when things are tough. That's not, "keep going because you're getting old" but "keep going because this particular thing is difficult". And how many kids opt out at that point? Then: what is it we want to do with this?

Back to the view of adulthood. When I played my little piece describing some tragedy after studying the violin for 1 1/2 years, and the little boy played the same little piece after having studied for 3 years, his was correct with all the right things in the right places for the grade he was doing. My technique was a bit shakier, but the experience in life of having had losses were already there in the music. There is no way a 7 year old would be able to express the intentions of the composer. That in itself is another motivation. There is something you badly want to say! Words fail you. Then there is music.

I think there is an important secondary reason for exploring this question. In what manner, and for what reasons, do teachers teach their various students. All students should have the same quality of teaching, but adjustments have to be made for who the person is, his or her potential, character, motivation, and goals, real or presumed, are kept in mind. If a teacher assumes I have certain goals, or that I lack them, and teaches toward those goals, it's important to have an awareness of what the presumed situation of adults students may be.

So those are my overly lengthy thoughts on the matter.

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I keep at it because I'm sure that any day there will be a new brand of strings, or rosin, or a new bridge design, or some new doodad or other, that is finally going to allow me to play like Vengarov. I'm convinced that what's been holding me back all these years are equipment issues.

HS

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I guess I'm feeling a bit blue. My motivation was always 1st to be a help to my son who is learning to play violin. This year his playing has taken off and his skill now far surpasses mine. He has may groups to play in with school and camp. I have no one. I absolutely love to play. It is one off the only time extravagances I give myself. (I work full time and have 2 kids) Anyway, after 8 years (at 48) my fingers still fell slow and my playing is absolutely destroyed by nervousness and lack of self confidence at my lessons. It kills the joy for me. This is something I always had problems with and can't seem to shake. I feel if I had friends to play with or a group to join I could work more dilegently at home, but I've become lazy and while I play and enjoy playing every day, I find I am no longer pushing my skill level.

I would much appreciate any inspiration.

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String along,

I am 61 and started playing 3 years ago.  Not a day goes by

that I don't wish that I had started at a young age, but I didn't

and cannot change that.  I practice diligently, and although

I'll never be as accomplished as I would like, I do improve

slowly.

Years ago, when I was 24, I was lamenting to a friend that I wanted

to go to college, but would be 28 by the time I finished.  He

replied, "How old will you be if you don't go?"  The same

thing holds true for playing an instrument.  I want to play

well, and the fact that I am 61only makes me want to play more to

make up for lost time.  Whether I ever become accomplished or

not is really beside the point.  I will have enjoyed the

journey.  I still wish I had started earlier, but "How good

will I be if I don't play?"  I would rather play and find out

than not play and wonder how good I could have been.

Hang in there and practice, play for the enjoyment of it, find

someone to play with if you can, and if you don't, then enjoy it

anyway.

Gary

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quote:


Originally posted by:
string-along

I guess I'm feeling a bit blue. My motivation was always 1st to be a help to my son who is learning to play violin. This year his playing has taken off and his skill now far surpasses mine. He has may groups to play in with school and camp. I have no one. I absolutely love to play. It is one off the only time extravagances I give myself. (I work full time and have 2 kids) Anyway, after 8 years (at 48) my fingers still fell slow and my playing is absolutely destroyed by nervousness and lack of self confidence at my lessons. It kills the joy for me. This is something I always had problems with and can't seem to shake. I feel if I had friends to play with or a group to join I could work more dilegently at home, but I've become lazy and while I play and enjoy playing every day, I find I am no longer pushing my skill level.

I would much appreciate any inspiration.

I suppose the obvious answer would be to find others to play with, join a group, since this would give you an external set of goals. Why not give this a try?

It would be nice if you could shake the nervousness and lack of self confidence at your lessons. Your "slow fingers" bother you, and they could be both a cause and a result. If you are not confident and nervous, it is hard to learn; if you are having difficulty learning because of how you feel at lessons then the slow fingers continue, and so it becomes a circle.

Trying to brainstorm a snippet of an idea here. What is it that makes you nervous at lessons? How do you perceive your role and that of your teacher? Many people try to please their teacher, play well for their teacher, and this kind of "performance" becomes a handicap. This is a performance which is under judgement. Mistakes should actually be celebrated, and then a lot of nervousness disappears.

But I think that an entire new door may be open for you through what appears a problem. You have written of the external goals that we are given and follow, believing them to be a motivation. You seem to have done a wonderful job in fulfilling many an important task, including the raising of a son who seems to be doing very well. You should give yourself a pat on the back. But now you have a chance to step back and look at what motivates you. What is it that deep down gives you pleasure, what is it that you want to do? What is it about the violin and music that fascinates you and that you would like to explore. This is a motivation that functions like an internal drive rather than something with goals set by others. If by any chance you do have such a drive, then the scenario in your lessons will change, and your progress will change. You are no longer looking at what is expected of you (causing nervousness, and looking at oneself, judging oneself), but at something that you want to achieve. You can "lose yourself" so much in your goal that you forget that you are even in the room with your teacher, because you are both so involved in solving whatever it is you are working on. The focus becomes the music, the technique, the whatever, and there is no more room for self-consciousness, questions of confidence or not, or nervousness. My hunch may not work for you, but I'll throw it out anyway.

The same scenario applies to playing with others, practicing alone etc. Just a thought.

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String along: I want to produce the best tone that I can. My vision today is better than it was at 20. My ability to concentrate and work on improving my skills is more focused then ever. The thought that health might become a problem never came to my mind. It is my intention to never stop taking lessons. I probably have the best teacher one could hope for. I may be the worst student, but that is her problem. I have played the piano for over 75 years and am probably the oldest person on this board. But, I do not believe that one should limit goals because of age.

Ben

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