Cami Shaskin

Violin Blog


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
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Posts


Motivation
06 Jun 2023

I recently had a chance to rehearse with a middle school orchestra for a performance of "Schindler’s List" I was scheduled to solo on with them. The kids were full of questions! One cute cellist wanted to know if I practiced every day and for how long. That question is usually hard for me to answer in an inspiring way, LOL.

Coincidentally, until recently, I wasn’t playing my violin every day. It was kind of a struggle. I wanted to want to, if that makes sense. But with toddlers running around the house, it was easy to make an excuse not to pick up my violin. In fact, when my husband and I discussed our goals for the week, it was consistently on my goal list to "play my violin" at some point during the week! But nowadays, when we get to that question in our goal review meeting each Sunday, the answer to the violin-playing question is always an immediate and fervent "Yes!" Usually I pick it up every day! And I was able to answer this middle schooler accordingly. I told the class that I practice pretty much every day, usually for roughly forty-five minutes, sometimes twice in a day! Of course, when I’m rehearsing with a group or teaching, that time lengthens out to be many hours per day.

This girl seemed dubious that practice could be something a person could actually want to do. I’d been there myself!! So I continued to offer some advice for some “mind tricks” that have helped me. I told her that I don’t put my violin away. I leave it out on a violin stand, so it’s easy to grab. (Isn’t it true that half the battle of starting to practice is just taking the instrument out of the case?) I train my kids to never touch it when it’s out. Amazingly, they haven’t given into temptation very often. In a book I just finished, titled Atomic Habits, the author advocates that when forming a new, good habit, try to make it as easy as possible to accomplish. Keeping my violin accessible is my way of making practicing easy. And instead of telling myself, "I need to practice," I tell myself, "I’m going to go play my violin." I told the class this mental switch works for me. Practice sounds like work. "Playing" sounds like fun.

I wasn't lying. These "hacks" really help me. But on further reflection in the ensuing weeks, I thought about some other motivating factors that I should probably credit more for my practice success.

In 2022, I started planning a solo recital. I determined to give myself at least a year to prepare this time. I had never given myself such a large window of time. Knowing the quality I wanted to achieve with this upcoming performance, I did a few things that proved smart.

First, I chose some of my favorite classical pieces—ones that would be challenging but not totally out of my league. That way, I’d want to work on the music, and I felt confident a general audience would want to hear it.

Second, I took the music to a teacher. As a violin teacher myself, with A LOT of training, I’ve finally gained enough experience to be my own teacher. That’s a fun point to arrive at. But after a while of not having an outside teacher, to suddenly have an expert available to you again who gives constructive feedback, helping you to consider new ideas and be aware of your "blind spots," can be invaluable. I think I appreciate lessons more than I used to, particularly because I’m the one paying for them. Taking lessons definitely speeds up the process of improvement and progression. It’s also very motivating, because suddenly you’re accountable to someone else, and with a lesson on the calendar, you have a deadline you have to be ready for. (Please read my next post which gives more background on how I decided to take lessons again.)

Finally, I planned rehearsals with my accompanist months in advance of the performance, so I would not procrastinate my preparation to the final hour, as it were. And it worked!

I feel like I’m doing the same things an athlete would do to reach their personal best. I have my own personal trainer pushing me on. And I have an upcoming event, a recital—similar to a 5K or a marathon—to train for. Without these two things—a mentor, and an event that demands a person showcase their skill—exercise or practice can still be beneficial for the mind and body, but the budding sports guru or classical musician isn’t going to notice as much improvement with their talent. These two big things have kept me on track, and have probably served as my greatest motivation to practice and improve.

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