After the success of the “How to Play Violin”. .comes a deeper study. More philosophical in nature, more in depth in physics, for those who wish to understand the “why.”
Let me ask you a question. Do you think, that, in order to learn violin you have to study the “X” method? Do you think you have to learn the methods of Professor “Y?” You are wrong. You need to think and you need to move, be able to move, your body the correct way. And, of course, you must be able to sing the music you wish to play, in your head.
The idea of things being small, of things being separated, is a modern invention. An animal does not use its “wrist”, a cat does not walk on it’s paws, it uses it’s whole body. This is the same for little cats and big cats. Violinists should do the same.
There is no such thing as bowing. No such thing as the “Left Hand” or the “Right Hand.” There is only intention.
Most violinist use far too much bow. Sawing away as if they wished to cut the violin in two. This is not violin playing. It certainly does not sound like real violin playing. Real violin playing is economy of movement. You only move what you need to make the sound you wish to make. And there is the problem. In order to make the sound you wish to make you must first know what kind of sound you wish to make. It must be heard before moving the bow, before using the violin. You must hear it in your head. You must be able to sing it. Then, and only then, can you learn to move your arms in such a way as to implement the sound you heard in your head. And for this you must be relaxed enough to let your body do what is needed.
This, and only this, is the biggest “secret” of every famous teacher, of every famous Conservatoire of Music, for every instrument. It is not about how to move the bow, how to hold the violin, how to place the fingers of the left hand – it is all about how well you hear, how much you can relax and how well you can visualize the music and make the visualization become sound.
The human body is very smart. The unconscious mind is far, far more powerful than the conscious mind. Every “mind-doctor” knows this. This is the secret of “the secret” and visualization techniques now used by Olympic sportsmen- and women throughout the world. What you can imagine is what you can do. There are no other limits. Why does a Heifetz exist? Because he is faster? Because he has more talent? Because he worked harder? Perhaps it is the working harder, combined with a greater trust in his body to deliver the goods when needed. Training, practice, is just telling the body what you are going to want. It is telling the body to be prepared to respond to your wishes. What will those wishes be? That depends on the music, and the moment. Why is he faster? Maybe he just wanted to be. Maybe that is just how he imagined music to be? It is who he was.
If you wish to play violin well then you must exercise. Why? Because the body works better with exercise. It really is that simple. If you do ten or twenty minutes of Tai Chi Quigong exercises before playing the violin then the “physical” difficulties will disappear. Why? Because your mind is bored with your body. Your body no longer rules your mind. After Quigong you feel energized and alive. Why Tai Chi Quigong? Because it promotes balance, and works. Because it is like violin playing. You cannot use force to achieve a movement. The movements follow from intention and by doing you learn how to do.
As a young adult hoping to enter the Conservatoire you must go home. You have been studying here for a year. You know you must leave and climb that long hill to your house. It is far. It is raining. You do not want to climb up that hill. You check your locker before you leave. There is a letter for you. You have been accepted. You start in September on a scholarship to the Conservatoire. The letter tells you that you have everything you wanted. You want to jump up and down with joy. And you cannot wait to get home to tell the others. You must tell somebody! Suddenly it does not matter that it is uphill. That is is raining. You run. The hill is nothing. You are not out of breath. You love the rain. You know it cannot stop you as you run and run and run with joy! This is mind over matter in practice. This is Quigong and violin playing. Right now, you could play anything and you know it.
The Zen of Violin Playing.