Resolution vs. Intention:
Resolution: I will go to the gym every day.
This resolution comes from a good place - the desire to improve one's health - but it's a very specific action. Therefore, if one has a busy day, gets sick, or has anything else prevent them from going to the gym, even for one day, the person has failed at their resolution. That sense of failure makes it much easier to give up on one's resolution.
Intention: I will honor my body.
This intention comes from the same desire as the resolution, but it offers many more ways a person can fulfill it. On a day-to-day basis, if the person asks themselves, "How can I honor my body today?" they may get many different answers. Some days, it may be going to the gym. Others, it may be going for a ten-minute walk outside at lunch to enjoy the weather. And some days, it might mean laying on the couch and giving oneself the permission to rest. All of these different actions fulfill the intention, and will hopefully lead to an overall healthier life.
In this blog and the next, I will offer two suggestions for New Year's Intentions for violinists, violin students, and parents of violin students, as well as share my own for myself as a teacher.
Intention Number 1: Enjoy music as a family.
While I wasn't someone who started violin at a super young age, music was a huge part of my family's life. We had special music that we listened to whenever we went to get the Christmas tree or decorated for the holidays. Certain albums were reserved for family car rides. My dad would tell me stories about soldiers marching down our street while listening to Prokofiev's Lt. Kije Suite. I remember one time when I was studying the solar system in elementary school, and my parents and I listened to Gustav Holst's The Planets, while recreating the solar system in model form in our living room. We would frequently watch Great Performances on PBS, or go to live concerts. Our cat was named after my father's favorite jazz singer, Cleo Laine. Regardless of what my own activities and interests were, music was a central part of my family, and I think it's this family enjoyment of music that led me to want to play the violin.
So often, I see situations where violin is very clearly An Activity. Parents are committed to getting their children to lessons on time, to encouraging them to practice, to attending their child's recitals...and then it stops. Outside of the child's activities, music isn't something that is enjoyed in the family. Violin can even become something that is highly stressful, especially if competitions and auditions are involved, and it can be limited to the narrow box of something to achieve honors in, but not to enjoy. If your love of music is linked to your achievement in the field, you are in for a long and unhappy road. Regardless of whether you're first chair or last, or what concerto you're playing, or whether you play an instrument at all, music itself can be a a positive force for good for you and your family.
Here are some suggestions for incorporating music into your family life:
- Find a concert to go to as a special family outing.
- Find a recording of a concert, or a musical, for your next family movie night.
- For parents: explore the musical world away from the recordings of your child's pieces. Find music that you enjoy listening to, and give yourself time to let music be something you connect with - not just something you have to remind your children to practice!
- Put music on during family dinner. Alternate who gets to choose the music, and talk about what you hear, and what you like.
- Every once in awhile, instead of a regular practice session, have the musicians in the house play for each other in an informal home concert or jam session. Make a rule: positive compliments only! Listen for something that you enjoy about the other's playing, and reserve constructive criticism for a formal practice session.
- Play music together - ask your teacher to help you find an easy piece that can be played together, have non-musician family members clap a beat or rhythm along with musicians while they play, or sing along to a favorite song.
How are you enjoying music in your family this week? Let me know in the comments below!