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Violin Lessons: Visualization

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[MUSIC]
Visualization is one of the most
powerful tools that we have as violinists,
as musicians and as human beings.
The fact is that we're capable of a lot
more than we imagine we are.
Our conscious mind is constantly limiting
us to the patterns we know,
the things we know.
That's the conscious mind.
What you want to do is unlock images and
thoughts
that you were blocking when you were just
practicing with the violin and the hand.
For a minute I'd like you to put the
violin away.
Imagine a passage that's giving you some
difficulty.
Really visualize it.
That means not just hearing it as if it
were a tape recorder playing in your head,
but visualize.
That means that you imagine, you are
playing the passage.
However, it's coming out perfectly,
with the most beautiful tone, every note
in tune.
Everything just feels right.
And ask yourself, are you able to imagine
that right away.
I bet most of you would say no.
If it were that easy to simply, really
feel, visualize and
feel, the perfect execution of a passage,
you could probably already play it.
[LAUGH] The fact that you can't play it
means that there's something imperfect
in the visualization.
It's surprising, I've tried to visualize
passages before.
And what I actually get,
is that my arm grows an extra two feet and
the bow hits the floor.
The bow arm actually hits the floor.
And I, I can't believe it, that seems
crazy.
That's like a, a bad dream.
But it happened in my visualization.
Another time my, my arm simply won't move.
I'm trying to imagine this passage, and,
and I can't shift at all.
The arm is just stuck.
And again I, I think that that's crazy.
If, if I play the passage, my hand, my arm
will move.
The brain often exaggerates tiny blips,
tiny glitches in the thought patterns.
The brain will exaggerate that when you
give it a chance, and that's good.
Because that lets you know where those
glitches are.
So if you can repeat your visualization.
In my case when the, the bow arm was
actually growing and hitting the floor,
that had some correlation to something
that was going on.
I realized my arm was moving kind of in a
jerky way at that point.
And it was, it was almost as if yeah, it
was gonna grow two more feet.
So I visualized the arm staying in a
normal track moving smoothly.
And then for the shift where the arm
simply wouldn't move,
I imagine that my hand was almost made of
some other substance, something
that just almost on ball bearings where it
moved easily along the violin.
Slowly it took many, many repetitions in
my mind.
That shift became smooth.
I picked up the violin and the bow and I
played it and it was,
it corresponded almost exactly to my last
visualization and I was exhausted.
It was as if I'd played the passage for 15
minutes.
I had to take a break.
But it was a very powerful and lasting
effect.
It allowed me to play it from that moment
forever differently.
So, it's on you to constantly visualize
these moments,
refine the mental picture, and then repeat
that.
Because the best position you can be in,
in a performance competition or audition,
is to immediately call up that perfect
visualization just before you play it.
Can you imagine that?
That you're in an audition and they call
out the next excerpt.
And there you are, you take five seconds
for yourself and
immediately you visualize the perfect
opening to the piece and then you play it.
What I didn't realize for many years, is
that, that takes practice.
You have to practice it just like you
practice playing the piece.
I thought, well, yeah that's of, of course
I should be visualizing.
Of course I, I should imagine how it
should sound.
I'll, I'll do that in the audition, I
will.
And it didn't happen.
I had so many thoughts racing through my
head.
I needed, I needed to be, be doing that
for months.
So, remember when you're visualizing
without moving, without having your
hands on the instrument, I want you to
feel the physical sensations
as they're occurring in your picture,
mental picture of the passage.
Then when you play, I want you to note if
there are any differences
between your actual playing and what
you've just visualized.
If there are still differences, you can
either refine your mental picture and
play again, or, of course, there will be
changes that you'll actually have to
practice muscles that need retraining.
Physical habits and patterns that need
changing.
But then you'll be able to practice just
those things and
have them finally conform with your
perfect mental visualization.
[MUSIC]