Practicing persistence

Since last Fall, Hyla has been working on “Musette” by J.S. Bach. I think she started it in October. Like most people I know, she doesn’t really enjoy practicing. She does it because we tell her to do it, and because she likes the violin, and because she loves performing and she’s not going to get to play at a recital unless she practices. There are probably several other reasons she practices (maybe to please us?), but she doesn’t tell us those reasons.

“Musette” was a tough piece for her on several counts. First, the tune didn’t come easily to her (and it was hard to remember). The piece also has lots of notes that you have to play in the non-standard position – these are things that a beginning violinist can’t see just by looking at the page of music: you have to learn (or hear) the right position and remember it. No cheating. It makes for hard work. And she put the work in.

She hasn’t enjoyed it much, but she’s been persistent.

I’ve always wanted to believe that “practice makes perfect”, and I do believe that practicing something makes it easier to do the thing, but I’m also learning that sometimes practicing just teaches you to persist, to keep at something, even when you’re not getting the results you want. Even when you’re performing this dang piece after months of practicing and the accompanist has never played it before that day and you are still inexperienced at performing (heck, you’re only 9 years old!).

At this recital, Hyla reminded me of an important thing. Persistence pays off not just because you might get better at the thing you’re working on, but because you see the thing through. You just keep playing even when you lose the thread, and lo and behold, sometimes you find the thread again.

Great job, Hyla!

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