We each come into each lesson or a practice session with some idea of how we want to sound - which is good! But in order to reach that sound, we must surrender our agenda of how long it ‘ought’ to take to get there and meet ourselves exactly where we are. Then, the real fun begins.
As musicians, we must remember that playing an instrument is a fundamentally athletic endeavor. It is incredibly physically demanding. When we have muscles tension in one area of the body, it affects all areas of the body. If we are tense, our music will sound tense.
"Elijah, if I made a mistake, would you forgive me?" "Yes," he said. "If Shiloh here made a mistake, would you forgive her?" "Yes!" he said. "If Emme made a mistake, could you forgive her too?" "Yes, of course!" "Then," I said, "if you make a mistake, you must forgive yourself too."
Elijah looked at me like I just grew another head. "What?! You can't forgive yourself!" We can, but it takes practice. Let’s get to work.
So I get this sometimes: “You’re a good teacher, but you’re too nice to me.” I’ve learned this really means, “I’m afraid that you won’t be honest with me about my abilities. And if I’m actually no good at this, when I perform I’ll make a fool of myself. And if I make a fool of myself when I’m trying to do something really important to me in front of my peers, oh god.” Let me put your fears to rest. Nicely.