Know Thyself (and thine instrument)

I subscribe to receiving emails from renowned violinist, Clayton Haslop; he always has such wonderful things to say about the nature of performing and really falling in love with your violin and the music itself–things that resonate with me so strongly! Well, today’s email was so right-on I had to share it! I’ve experienced this “knowing” that he talks about, and it’s absolutely true… When you take the time to just get to know your violin, the inner elements of the music and it’s details, and ultimately yourself… Well, that’s when the true magic happens!

Hope you find some encouragement and inspiration in the quote below!

Woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of a steady rain; quite special when living in an arid landscape like SoCal. Now what is also quite special, in any landscape (including concert halls), is the feeling of relaxation accompanying something we might call knowingness; that quality of knowing that we know.

And, unfortunately, our ability to arrive at such a place is often thwarted. Our egos want so much to ACCOMPLISH they will, at every opportunity, short-circuit the body/mind’s need to EXPERIENCE in deep and meaningful ways; the ways that lead, over time, to real knowingness. It’s a form of self-sabotage, really. We seek to improve, yet frequently deny ourselves the presence of mind and mental space necessary to actually do it. Now, one of the tools I use to expand my mental presence is visualization. I continuously remind myself to play only what I can CONSCIOUSLY direct myself to play.

This is what slows me down, activates my mental powers, and affords the space for real learning to take place. You see, to my mind, the secret of continuous improvement is the secret of self-control; of not ‘running away’, as Milstein once put it; of gifting yourself with the time and attentiveness required to actually DO the task at hand.

We have, in fact, more time than we think!

(A little bit about Mr. Haslop:
“Clayton Haslop made his professional solo debut at age 20 under Sir Neville Marriner and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra touring six major cities of the western United States. These critically acclaimed performances not only lead to numerous engagements with orchestras, they also resulted in his being appointed founding violinist of the Los Angeles Piano Quartet at Marriner’s recommendation. Haslop is active in the motion picture industry as solo violinist and concertmaster on such films as Avatar, Up, The Matrix films, Titanic, Ratatouille, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Star Trek, The Incredibles, Jurassic Park, Apollo 13, and The Perfect Storm. As a student Clayton Haslop was coached extensively by the legendary Nathan Milstein.”)

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