Violin Playing as Art
Music is described as a fine art but rarely taught as one.
While there may be some few musicians who started off in the field because they wanted a job, most would say it is because they love music. Because they wanted to be an artist and express something.
Rarely do pedagogs take much time figuring out what that something is.
With the professionalization of music, most conservatories and teachers are in a rush to prepare musicians for the working world and thus push them through repertoire, make sure their excerpts are prepared, and offer them advice on their musicianship and technique. But what if what music needs is actually is more unique artists, more unique approaches, more exploration, more discovery?
To find your own voice, I would start by asking?
1. What do you listen to?
2. What sound most inspires you?
3. What is your vision? What is the part of you that needs to be expressed?
4. Who are your musical family? Are you playing for them or with them on a daily basis?
Perhaps some music schools should be more like art schools of old. Breeding grounds for experimentation, self-discovery and liberation. There is not a good or bad side in this. Both curation and creativity are valuable. Both precision and discovery important. But rarely are the questions asked and repeated. Perhaps the answers might scare us? Perhaps we would lose some students. Perhaps we would gain others.
If the answer is punk rock, so be it. You should try to make that sound. Maybe you should even die and cut your hair. You should definitely rebel, at least in our sound and your message. Punk is about resistance and definitely not curation.
Or maybe your punk is finding a new improvised classicism blended with minimalism, rich in architecture and the history of early 19C music but rigorously paired down.
Or maybe you love that first page of Bach Fugue from the C Major Sonata but feel the rest really goes off the rails (if you feel this way, please write me, I'd love to see where our argument takes us). If so, you should play the hell out of the first page then write out where it should go.
Along the way, hopefully you are playing a ton. Because often the art emerges from the craft. But still, following your vision, your song, is the most likely way to give you a way to play that you can share now, and develop a voice that the world needs.
Music, and "classical" music in particular, if it is to remain important and relevant, needs more explorers, more player-composers, more artists. Violin playing as art.