We attended our daughter’s concert tonight. She’s a member of the Youth Symphony of the Southwest (members are aged 15-20). They played Brahms:Symphony No. 1 in C minor and it was 45 minutes of absolute bliss.
I learned something new: Brahms so admired Beethoven and wanted so badly to create something in the same caliber that it took him fourteen years to complete this concerto. Fourteen years.
He toiled and created on one project for fourteen years. That’s some serious perseverance.
So if you’re working on a masterpiece of any kind and you’re stressed about how long it’s taking you to create it, don’t sweat it. Just keep at it and pay no mind to time.
“I am sitting at the open window (at four a.m.) and breathing the lovely air of a spring morning… Life is still good, [and] it is worth living on a May morning… I assert that life is beautiful in spite of everything! This “everything” includes the following items: 1. Illness; I am getting much too stout, and my nerves are all to pieces. 2. The Conservatoire oppresses me to extinction; I am more and more convinced that I am absolutely unfitted to teach the theory of music. 3. My pecuniary situation is very bad. 4. I am very doubtful if Undine will be performed. I have heard that they are likely to throw me over.”
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
“You absolutely have to believe in yourself. Man, you’ll get rejected hundreds of times. You have to believe in yourself if you’re going to succeed.”
Jon Bon Jovi
Confidence – noun, a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.
Tchaikovsky was plagued by depression and also a hypochondriac. Somehow, he persevered and produced prolifically. Bon Jovi and Tchaikovsky both possessed the drive to create music. This high level of motivation enabled them to overcome obstacles such as rejection and mental illness.
Happening now: six teenagers in our dining room, jamming on violins, viola, and cellos. They love playing together so much, that they arrange to meet weekly…driving almost one hour one way to each other’s houses. Proactive and unpaid.
Here they are during a concert in July:
Who says kids these days are just on their phones?
In any case, we’ve estimated that with regular practice, rehearsals, competitions and school orchestra, the girls have at least 5,000 of deliberate practice under their belt.
In nearly nine years of playing, the girls have not once said they want to quit. I attribute that to the fact that they only play violin – they do not do any other extracurriculars. The upsides of “being good” at something are: self-confidence, self-discipline and optimism!
I volunteered tonight at my daughter’s symphony chair auditions. My task was to walk the children of the cello section from rehearsal to a small private room with a judge and back to rehearsal, one at a time. These kids’ ages ranged from 12 to 14 and there were eight of them.
They were nervous.
Six of them told me they didn’t practice enough. One of them told me he would fail.
I urged them to breathe deeply and think positively. But they weren’t having it!
Their pessimism surprised me. These kids attend rehearsal once a week, most coming from other cities 30 minutes away or more. They take private lessons.
It goes to show that two important factors necessary for confidence in performance: preparation and positivity.
Still, watching young kids work so hard to make beautiful music together warms the heart!
I love my friend’s reaction to her son when his audition was over.
He walked out of his audition, stretched his arms out and shouted, “I sucked!”
She said, “Well, let’s go out for ice cream then.”