Early Morning Musings, with Coffee: Inadequacy, Joy, Neurology, Plasticity

 Inadequacy. A horrible feeling. Yet I embrace it, in my violin life at least. When I feel good about my practice and playing, I get complacent and progress ceases. When I feel inadequate, that my sound and music could better express what I have to convey, then I look deeper and try harder to improve my technique, developing physical ability that connects to inner musical ideas. It’s a difficult road and a long slog.

Luckily, inadequacy is accompanied by joy. Every step forward, however miniscule, is a step closer to that elusive goal. I pair these feelings, allowing inadequacy to propel me forward in my daily work, allowing joy to celebrate accomplishment, but wallowing in neither. Getting lost either in self-pity or in self-congratulations are death to the violinist, in that the emotional self-indulgence distracts from the labor of forward momentum.

 If I could describe my inner neurology, I would catalogue the insufficient neural connection between my sight and hearing to my left hand. I can read and hear melody, however my left hand is ever-so-slow to finger the idea and stumbles piteously along the way. When my left hand is getting a melody, it commandeers all available neurons such that my bow-arm lacks guidance and sound quality deteriorates to crunch, crunch. The good news is that the more I diligently and thoughtfully practice, the more the more connected and coordinated my left hand becomes, freeing neurons to direct my right arm to produce beautiful tone and expressive sound.

The better news is that is that advances in the neurological sciences detail how the adult brain is far more plastic and open to growth than previously believed. We are so used to, and so taken with, the easy growth and advancement that accompanies childhood learning, that adult learning tends to get discounted. What I am discovering is that adult learning happens in a different way than childhood learning, but that it does happen. This idea serves as a foundation for aspirational goals that I cling to, worshiping at the alter of mastering skill through developing my inner neurology. One dendrite, one synapse at a time.
Copyright 2017, all rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “Early Morning Musings, with Coffee: Inadequacy, Joy, Neurology, Plasticity

  1. Thank you for this awesome article. It rings so true for this matur-ish I individual to a “T”…i always seem to have difficulty with the 4th finger on the left hand…its as if my hand stiffens. Iti requires that term eye hand coordination , for which I seem to not have great quantities …..even piano is the same. However I move forward as best I can because I love the violin.
    Thank you again!
    Best wishes in violin playing!⚘

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.