Opening the violin case is a very hard process at times. It often means you are about to focus extremely hard for a long period of time. It is much more convenient to just swipe past the Google Docs tab I’m writing on, to stop on Netflix about two slots over, or go grab lunch with friends. In musical communities, these negatives exit the mind, because everyone else is going to rehearsal/practice as well. It’s inspiring, because you see the hard work and great music of your peers, and also competitive because odds are the person you are listening to will be competing for a job or ensemble seating in the future. However, that practice room inspiration got taken away recently due to the epidemic. For a long time, there were no ensembles, no summer camps, no concerts, and no trips with friends to the practice rooms. How does a musician gain the motivation to practice during the pandemic?
One great way I would recommend is to make use of YouTube and social media. With YouTube, thousands of world-class recordings in the greatest concert halls are at your fingertips - anytime, anyplace. It’s inspirational to watch great musicians make magic on the stage, and great for developing (and totally not copying) their musical ideas. In regards to social media, there are lots of ways for musicians to stay connected while far apart. For example, the 100 Days of Practice Challenge, made popular by violinist Hilary Hahn. Open to anybody, musicians from all around the globe share their daily practice to the internet with a common hashtag. It’s motivating to see your peers working hard despite the times, and I think it also incites a little bit of competition. I did not partake in the challenge (I get embarrassed about the music that I post), but it was really cool to see my friends and their daily accomplishments, and failures.
Another way, although a bit more serious, is online camps. There were/are a wide variety of music camps, masterclasses, etc., being offered through an online format. It gives students the opportunity to take lessons and learn from the best teachers from the most prestigious universities and orchestras, right from the comfort of their home (and for a way cheaper price than in-person opportunities). Over the summer, I attended a Zoom formatted violin camp called Sounding Point Academy. I had the great opportunity to take lessons from Martin Beaver of the Colburn School, and Stefan Jackiw, and world-renowned soloist and a brand new faculty member at the Mannes School of Music. I also got to see masterclasses and lectures from the likes of Ray Chen, James Ehnes, Augustin Hadelich, and Robert Lipsett. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and was one of the few blessings of the pandemic.
In conclusion, two great ways to gain the motivation to practice are to take advantage of the internet and virtual events!