Cami Shaskin

Violin Blog



Post Highlight:

Violin Jokes
20 FEB 2021

About


This blog is about all things violin. It is meant to educate, inspire, and provide resources for parents, teachers, and students. The author takes full responsibility for the viewpoints expressed here. In instances where she quotes ideas from others, she pledges to cite her sources as fully, responsibly, and accurately as possible. Topics will include book reviews, technique tips, entertaining anecdotes, quotes, jokes, educational findings, instrument care suggestions, violin in the news, repertoire lists, etc.

Cami J. Shaskin graduated with her master's degree in Music Education in 2008. Violin has always been her primary instrument, since beginning private lessons at age five. See camishaskinviolin.com/info for her music résumé, or click on Spotlights for historical recordings. Cami has enjoyed an array of experiences in writing, from penning award-winning articles as a journalism staff writer in high school, tutoring peers at BYU's Writing Center, earning a Writing Fellows scholarship and a minor in Language and Computers, and later becoming a published author. She recently picked up web programming as a hobby, earning a certificate in Web Programming and Development from the local community college. This blog has been a collaborative effort between her and her husband, who is a Web Developer by profession. Together, they designed and coded this blog and its original content "from scratch."

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2021
    Jan
        16 - Welcome to My Blog
        23 - Violin Teaching Kits
        30 - The Power of Inspiration
    Feb
        06 - Valuable Techniques
        07 - From the Top
        13 - In Honor of Valentine's Day
        20 - Violin Jokes
        28 - Beginning Orchestra Teaching
    Mar
        06 - Singing in Orchestra
        13 - Nurtured by Love
        21 - Helpful Websites
        27 - Unique Case Uses
    Apr
        02 - Favorite Music Quotes
        10 - All About Tone
        17 - Unique Composer Stories
        24 - Teaching Values
    May
        02 - Believing Teachers?
        15 - Violin in Art & Architecture
        23 - A Solo Repertoire List
        29 - Our Quartet
    Jun
        20 - Theft and Other Lessons
        26 - Violin Bridge Tips
    Jul
        07 - Clever Violin Memes
        20 - Horses and Lions
    Aug
        04 - Music During Covid
        16 - Favorite Music
    Sep
        12 - Being There
    Oct
        16 - Sight Reading Tips
    Nov
        05 - Why It's the Frog
    Dec
        20 - Bach on the Brain
        30 - Impact for Life
2022
    Jan
        23 - Tendonitis Helps
    Feb
        21 - An Old Performance
    Mar
        23 - Cars3 & Coaching
    Apr
        28 - Buying a Violin for Dummies
        29 - Preferred Brands
    May
        27 - Love: A Calling
    Jun
        20 - Gratitude for Idaho Shop
    Jul
        19 - Violinist Interviews Books
    Aug
        08 - Music Opens Doors
        23 - Top Classical Tunes for Violin
    Sep
    Oct
        11 - 100 Days of Listening
    Nov
        27 - Useful Analogies
    Dec
        28 - A Humorous Anecdote
2023
    Jan
        14 - Favorite Concertos & Sonatas
    Feb
        15 - Our Commonality
    Mar
        10 - Extras
        18 - Autopilot
    Apr
    May
    Jun
        06 - Motivation
        07 - Starting Lessons Again
    Jul
        08 - A Tale of Three Cloths
    Aug
        26 - The Ink
    Sep
        23 - Raw and Real Recital Reactions
    Oct
        18 - In Honor of Halloween
    Nov
        26 - Music Copyright
    Dec
        13 - Memes: Fun Facebook Finds
2024
    Jan
        15 - Fame and Fortune
    Feb
        05 - Details and the Big Picture
    Mar
        14 - Intermission
    Apr
        18 - A Day in the Life
    May
        02 - Oops!
    Jun
        14 - A Science or an Art?
    Jul
        15 - A Difficult Post
    Aug
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    Sep
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    Oct
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Posts


A Difficult Post
15 Jul 2024

Sometimes the best questions have no easy answer. Sigh. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. It’s something that plagues not only musicians, but all of mankind. That is Pride! Yep, pride with a capital P--the selfish, comparison-to-others kind. I’m guilty of it. Not exactly simple to admit.

I normally am fine admitting my weaknesses. It’s my way of demonstrating vulnerability and a desire to connect. But in admitting this particular weakness, I feel guilt; I believe I should know better than to indulge in pride. Pride is a stubborn root of so many vices—the hidden part underground that we want to keep hidden. A short disclaimer: there is some religious zeal in this article. But I believe my intended audience will be able to relate.

I was told, at least in high school, by more than one of my peers in orchestra, how humble I was, presumably about my talent. That was awkward for me! I didn't know what to think. I was faced with a choice: do I agree with them so I don’t imply they’re liars, or do I just blush and deflect the compliment because I don’t like drawing attention to myself? My reaction was always the latter, and I felt more embarrassed at my flushed cheeks (why couldn’t I just say, “Thank you” and move on?).

Now those days seem long ago, and simpler somehow. Eventually, after my school days were finished, my attitude evolved, and I began to [sort of] believe my colleagues. After all, I knew them to be honest people. Why couldn’t they be right? It was easier to do this when analyzing my PAST self (i.e. I used to be humble.) Nevertheless, instead of being actually humbled and grateful for their faith in me in turn, I accepted their praise as a lesser human would: hungry for flattery, focusing on myself, taking the compliment too far. If I WERE humble, it was a virtue I started to pride myself on. There’s some irony there . . . ! Though recognizing the absurdity of that, today I probably would not only accept the praise if someone were to compliment me thusly . . . but I’d have to come face-to-face with an unwelcome character flaw—that I crave and rely on the high opinion of others. WHY IS THAT??

I don’t know why for sure. Perhaps some of it is the nature of violin performance—there’s a correlation between audience appreciation and future opportunities. But I think it’s more than that. I admire the beauty in others and look for the same respect shown in return.

Long ago, a mentor of mine chose not to acknowledge my talents and even pushed me downward with his/her feedback. Worse, I was consistently blatantly ignored when I attempted to approach this individual. It was an excruciatingly long time before I was able to adequately forgive this person enough to find healing. As a very young adult, I figured, maybe my incriminating music critic was right. And I was quite discouraged. After all, this person was older and had more experience with life. Maybe my talent, that I had always considered to be an asset, was in reality a liability, that the other music big-wigs who had praised me were misleading me, and as an individual, I was merely an annoyance fit to be ignored and criticized.

On the flip side, I felt the urge to prove to this musician that I actually had the talents he/she was ignoring and disparaging. (Why should I need to?) In fact, I am ashamed to admit that I have wallowed in thoughts, understandably, that I am both a better violinist compared to some others, and a better person than certain “key” people treated me as. I have cared too much about others’ perceptions. I too often forgot to seek the opinion of Who it was that had made it possible for me to play my violin at all!

Who could I trust to be accurate AND supportive? At my darkest moments, even God seemed to be a being with questionable motives to view from a standpoint of antagonistic resentment. Ironically, I focused on the disdain of my distant and “more seasoned” critic, as well as my own inner critic, more than I trusted in God’s support. I am not proud of this.

Preoccupation with the injustice of one’s presumed ranking in the world is a bitter place to be in, though some of my frustration and efforts to self-inflate my own ego in reaction to this situation did lend energy to my resolve to keep on swimming.¹ Sometimes this Band-Aid of “confidence” kept me going, whilst at other times, I confess with guilt that my preoccupation with certain relationships, and a lack of approval from them, has distracted me from appreciating the significant opportunities I have been blessed with. These blessings included my testimony of my faith, a loving family, and unique musical opportunities (even those that no one else knew about, cared about, or remembered!) that really seemed custom-tailored to my talents and my ability to appreciate. It wasn’t until much later that I learned to say, “So?” in response to criticism, take their opinion as just one opinion among many others, and find real confidence; and joy. This likely did not originate from justifying my own talents, but from working on them and exploring them for my own self-satisfaction. I have two violin students in particular to thank for their examples in practicing almost exclusively for the sake of personal enjoyment and improvement. I’m often motivated by the chance to perform for others, partly because they offer appreciation for what I'm doing. That’s usually a win-win situation, and I’m not saying wanting an audience is bad. But letting what others think trump your own dignity or common sense, whether you allow your self-esteem to be shattered or to be puffed up, is where things get dicey.

Another aspect of merely competing with others, even inwardly: I sometimes still slip and covet opportunities I don’t have. The danger of focusing on what I lack is in forgetting to feel grateful for what wonderful opportunities I have been offered, including the warm kindness, forbearance, generosity, and appreciation I have been shown from 95% of the people I know!!

I’m willing to learn. Not one of us is completely right all the time, since our vision is limited, and on the flip side, we’re also not inherently wrong! Life is just ridiculous sometimes!

Even when I falter and have suffered because of a few individuals’ apparent disdain, neglect, or other unexplained choices, I’ve observed that most imperfect God-fearing people are worth learning from. Though we all share the tendency toward pride, we’re each different in terms of strengths, weaknesses, etc. God made us different.² And we all have different experiences to pull from that influence our manner. Perhaps that’s partly the point: once I tolerate others having a different, more trying or exasperating manner or opinion, I’m more inclined to extend the same grace to myself—to allow myself to think differently. In so doing, I can allow myself to be potentially wrong, haha. Who knows the answer to who is “more right” in their point of view or actions, or if it even matters in terms of our eternal priorities? Obviously God does, so I’ll just trust He knows what to do with that. I am prone to want to stay curious without staying distraught. I can always try to do better at being a peacemaker in the meantime.

1 Disney’s Finding Nemo
2 Reflecting on “Different is Good” 1994 Arby’s Restaurant campaign here

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