Balance

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I recently read the article "What is the point of balance?" from the May 2012 issue of the American String Teacher. I agree with Dr. Michael Heald that physical and emotional balance is incredibly important as a string player. I particularly like his 10 specific points to be considered: 1) Love. Of music, of ourselves (self-worth) and of others through receiving and giving in performances.

2) Discipline. There are no shortcuts for progress so we have to be organized, determined, and learn to deal with disappointment even after hard work.

3) Cooperation. Playing an instrument in an ensemble teaches us how to communicate and get on with other people in a working environment.

4) Imagination. Music demands us to tell stories in an interesting and improvised manner. Furthermore, it demands that the performer sees and understands the art of possibility.

5) Communication. Like actors, the violinist needs to learn to enunciate clearly and play with a beautiful voice, then project an important idea to an audience. One should learn how to engage the listener.

6) Decisiveness. Music can show us how to become decision makers, yet, at the same time, learn to become flexible with an ability to notice subtle changes around us. Before we put the bow on the string it is most important to know what you want. As Socrates reminds us: "Know yourself."

7) Coordination. Violin playing teaches us excellent eye/hand coordination, especially through fast thinking during the act of sight-reading.

8) Sensitivity. Musical training teaches us an awareness of the outside environment and of other people's feelings.

9) Inquisitiveness. Violin studies teach us to question everything, hopefully in a balanced manner. This leads, in turn, to help people see things for how they truly are.

10) Processing. It is an essential skill for students to read between the lines when receiving instruction. For example, I am sure there are some teachers who suggest that their approach is "the only way" to play the violin. Students should never ignore their teacher's instructions, but try everything asked of them... and, at the same time, aim to reconcile differing viewpoints for themselves. Reject nothing!