Tagged: playing music you don't like
July 18, 2016 at 4:16 am #16830
I have seen several people in some online groups complaining about playing music that they can’t stand just because their teacher has given it to them. Are you one of those? I feel that life is too short to be playing music that is not enjoyable to me. What do you think?July 18, 2016 at 4:47 am #16832
I will play something I don’t particularly like if it will help me become a better violinist. I usually find that I like it the more I play it. Example, I am working on 14th Etude by Fiorillo, which I didn’t like that much when I first heard, but I am starting to become fond of it. It helps me to get more familiar with the key of E flat, and it also is giving me more experience with the g-string because I have to learn how to play grace notes on the g-string and shifting to 3rd position while doing those grace notes, which is kind of a challenge.July 19, 2016 at 2:33 am #16878
I will try to find another piece of music with the same skill to work on, but if not able to, I will practice for the skill and move on once I have achieved that, not necessarily perfect the whole piece.July 23, 2016 at 11:35 pm #17126
As a teacher, and having been a pro orchestral player, I have a pretty strong opinion on playing songs you don’t like. First of all, if you are self taught, and older beginner, you make your own path, so in that situation, I don’t see any reason why you would be selecting any pieces you hate to play.
If a teacher gives you an assignment, on the other hand, you must do it. There’s a reason for it. It is meant to teach you something. As the student, you must submit yourself to the instruction and guidance of the teacher. The more serious you are about this, the more you’ll get out of the experience. It’s your job to figure out what you’re learning and keep a good attitude about it. In college, I was assigned etudes that I sometimes didn’t like, but usually that was because they were not easy, and I had to really work hard to play them well and I was just being lazy. My teacher pushed me on one etude at one point, because I expressed a dislike for an etude, but I had not put in the work and couldn’t play it either. So he calmly brought me into his studio, closed the door behind him, set the metronome, and ordered me to begin playing. The message was, you don’t like this piece, and want to move to something else? Show me you’ve mastered it, and we’ll move ahead. There were tears in that lesson and eventually, hugs. But 40 years later, I have not forgotten the deeper meaning.
As a musician, (particularly professionals) it is not ours to decide if we like a piece of music and opt out of learning. If you composed a piece, you can hate it then. You can decide to throw it away. You don’t get to ‘dislike’ someone else’s creation if you are given a task of learning it. As a musician your job is to bring life to the gift of the written page. You carry a message through history from the composer, sometimes someone who died hundreds of years ago. You give your heart to learning the message and passing it to the listener as precisely as you can. In this way you bring honor to the music and understand it is not about you. It is the piece you hate that you should most diligently study, because it will surely make you a more disciplined and versatile player.July 24, 2016 at 5:24 am #17155
Diane, I’m afraid I may have started some misunderstanding by a post I put up a few months ago. When I saw this post I wondered if it was a takeoff from my previous post. I respect your perspective and would never refuse to try to learn a piece from a teacher. As a child, I was not even aware of my feelings about some of the music, and honestly some I now realize I disliked though learned to play well; some I probably don’t so much dislike as associate with difficult and painful memories. Certain music is associated with very painful times and triggers reliving those memories. I’m able to enjoy the violin and making its music again. I don’t advocate rebellious attitudes or behavior. I’m very greatful to have the chance to regain some of my skill and build more positive experiences. I felt like a failure because I was only second best violinist in the orchestra even though I was the youngest! Took over 45 years to realize that being second best was an accomplishment and to recognize that I hadn’t liked some of the music. I never had access to music that I could choose then or play for enjoyment. Sorry if my sharing created negativity. I didn’t mean to do that.July 24, 2016 at 5:26 am #17156
By this post, I meant the original topic, not what you wrote.August 25, 2016 at 10:51 am #17831
I suppose I ‘hate’ all pieces I’ve learned until I can play them OK, then suddenly I seem to like them, who knew?