I had my first ever Baroque violin lesson recently. This was tremendously exciting for me, as I’ve wanted for years to do it. It was also terribly irritating, as I noticed pretty quickly that what everyone had told me about Baroque violin being a different instrument was pretty much true, and that my years of modern violin training were going to hinder almost much as they helped.
I also realized that I was going to have to come up with new ways of practicing. My intensely analytical style of tearing things apart was pretty much going to get in the way of actually playing music. In my lesson, I was absolutely terrified of “getting it wrong” and consequently paralyzed and unable to produce the sound I envisioned in my head.
So I toddled off home and decided to try the very sound (pun intended) advice of my teacher: trust your singing voice.
So the next day, I recorded myself playing some Monteverdi, and then listened back. I sounded like a truck.
Then I recorded myself singing, listened to it, and then recorded myself playing it back. Hm, a lot less like a truck. More like an SUV. I resisted the urge to analyze and repeated the process several times, until my Monteverdi had scaled down to a Volkswagon Beetle. Still not the lithe unicorn of my dreams, but I left it alone, figuring that overcooking the piece would be just as bad.
So the new challenge to you mindful practicers out there: find the part of yourself that gives musical inspiration. Feed that. Don’t try analyzing and changing. Listen and respond instead
I am an Irish-American violinist living in Cambridge, UK. I perform with the Philharmonia, the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment, and many other top groups, and am also the Business Developer for Encore Music and am on the Makers Academy course for programming.