Although you may not always see and feel the bond, your violin teacher always will serve as your strongest ally in the battle for mastery of the unruly four-stringed beast from which you strive to make music. Violin history and tradition demand that you respect your “master” and submit to each and every one of his or her commands; your steady progress will prove the wisdom in tradition and history. But your violin teacher’s mastery of her own instrument and her patient, relentless insistence on your perfection ought to inspire your reverence. The skill with which your tutor shows you how to perform the most difficult pieces with greatest precision and passion ought to inspire your admiration. But, most of all, your tutor’s exceptional gift for melting away the droning drudgery of violin practice and instruction, her special talent for making it just plain fun ought to inspire your affection-for the instrument and even more for your teacher. After all, if your music is not ultimately fun, what good is it?
Each of the elements in your violin teacher’s instruction contributes to your skill and grace as a performer. Naturally, your submission to your instructor’s commands and prescriptions contributes to your discipline. As you grow more proficient, you will discover that you also have become more self-disciplined, internalizing the master’s lessons, making them your own. To a large extent, your self-discipline will determine how far you advance in your violin career not only because it will determine the quality of your practice but especially because it will determine the quality of your ensemble play. Even play in a jazz group, which seems to promote improvisation and liberation of the spirited music in your soul, still requires discipline: you must stick with and build on the motifs and themes the other musicians have laid down, and you must stay in rhythm and harmony with their backbeats and riffs.
It’s a violin player’s fact of life that you will keep the tapes on your fingerboard at least until you turn pro, but your teacher’s careful demonstration and skilled guidance of your fingers ultimately will free you from the still-taped stigma.
Although it remains a bittersweet passage, you must recognize that every teacher wholeheartedly wants her protégé to eclipse her own accomplishments. As much as her own performance matters to her, her teaching matters even more, so that your finest virtuoso performance testifies to her skill as an instructor as much as it bears witness to your own accomplishment. In the moment you crown your own glory, you crown your teacher’s too. Her gifted instruction empowers and liberates the gift in you.
Finally, although we value and valorize the fun factor, we also acknowledge that fun represents the gateway to satisfaction and joy-the deeper and more grown-up versions of just plain fun. Consider, for example, the thrill you feel the first time you play an excruciatingly difficult piece all the way through without mistake: the overwhelming joy, satisfaction, and sense of power you feel more than compensates for all the hard work you invested. In her subtle and inimitable way, your teacher of violin drew you over the threshold of joy, insisting day after day, lesson after lesson, correction after correction, she knew not only that you could do it but also that you could do it expertly. And, in the end, when you nailed it, the triumph made learning your instrument just plain fun.
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