Chill. Relax. Loosen Up. Let it Go.

17 February 02017 (8 months ago)2 minutes of your time

Day: 158
Practice Logged: 102 hours + 40 minutes
Feeling: strained

Good advice for many things in life these days, sure, but apparently my neurotic tension is becoming an actual manifest barrier to the quality of my violin learning and playing.

I sorta got it, but a bit of a YouTube binge the other night connected a string of random internet advice to a common refrain I hear in my lessons on a pretty much weekly basis: RELAX. Relax your grip. Relax your arm. Relax your shoulder. Why are you holding your posture so rigid? Why the hell is going on with your pinkie finger because it looks like it’s about to pop out of it’s socket!?

I wrote a week-or-so back about the effects of playing on my mental state, and now in reverse it seems like the effects of my mental state on my playing is worth a closer examination.

The layman explanation, paraphrased from five months of lessons and a few hours of YouTube research: Let it go! Let it go floppy. Let it go loose. Stop thinking so much. Let the tension out. Go limp. Go jelly. Chill… and the result will show through in your music.

Easier said than done.

You know I spend a good seven to eight hours at a desk every weekday right?

I drove through an icy road snow blizzard apocalypse to get to my lesson, I think, and it’s going to take a couple minutes for entire body to de-clench. No, really.

I’ll try. I admit. But willing yourself to relax is like telling yourself not to think of bacon. Or, as Douglas Adams might have put it, learning to fly: it’s easy… you just need to fall and then distract yourself from hitting the ground.

Thus, I’m starting to think that I need to work some relaxation techniques into my efforts to learn this instrument. Some pre-practice meditation, perhaps? Ten minutes of quiet decompression with some tunes, maybe? Or, possibly I need to try out the prospect of leading into my bow time with a thirty minute run.

I just don’t need to think so much about it.

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About the Author
Brad started this blog in 2001 as a collection of ‘letters home’ from Vancouver, after moving out West for a job. The blog has had many names since then, the topics have changed, and the the quality is (arguably) improved — but the author is the same old neurotic author as the first day he wrote that first post.

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