Today I was teaching a violin lesson and we were working on a George Bornoff exercise where one plays the open string 4 times, then the same string with the first finger 4 times, then 4 times with the second and so on until the 4th finger is added. Then one lifts fingers one at a time played in the same fashion. It isn’t all that much fun, but it works!
Like most kids, I HATED exercises like this when I was young. They were boring. I wanted to play Bach and Vivaldi and be able to show off my skills!!! That’s where the glory was, after all!! …of course I failed to embrace the concept that it was those very exercises that made the “showing off” possible!!
I bring this up because there has been a shift in how I think about these warm ups. I no longer loathe them, rather I look forward to them. They require me to slow down. In this fast paced world where we are all trying to stay ahead of the game, I have an opportunity to “connect” with my instrument. I get that this sounds corny, but it’s true. I focus on my posture, how I hold my bow and violin, my tone etc… It is like nothing else exists in the world for that time.
How many of our students experience this? We are always hurrying them along with a sense of urgency, for we know that we only have them for a VERY short period of time and yet ALL of the standards MUST be taught in that time. When do we give them a chance to slow down and be completely absorbed in their learning? For that matter, when do we get to slow down ourselves and truly get absorbed in our teaching? Sure, we get moments here and there, but that clock is always ticking in the background. Thirty to forty five minutes a week (if you are lucky) simply isn’t enough time!!
We must slow down, even when we are in front of them teaching. We must let them get completely involved in their music education, even if we don’t have the time we need. I say this mostly because I need to be reminded every once in a while! I am always ten steps ahead and forget to live in the present. Playing violin helps, but it isn’t always enough. We have the privilege of shaping these young minds in how they will think about music and the world around them. How cool is that??