School Blog

The Power of Practice

By Catherine Matovich, Strings Teacher

Howdy Waldorfians and Waldorfites! Douglas and I greatly enjoy watching the children grow into their new selves! I still remember my first musical experiences.

When I was 3 or 4, influenced by my parents’ love for playing (both were amateur sometimes professional musicians), all by myself I managed to tap out “Do You Know the Muffin Man’ on the piano. What a feeling of accomplishment! At age 6, my parents started me on piano lessons. Around age 9, I fell in love with the harp. I wanted to play it so bad you cannot imagine. Or you can – if you have ever been swept away with a desire to feel strings with your bare hands.

My parents, realizing the cost of a harp and the large-enough new car required to ferry it to and fro, chose violin for me instead.I can’t say I was devastated. I can’t say I was happy either. It seemed a temporary measure so I took to playing it. But I refused to use all my fingers. To this day I can play any song you want using only my index finger. It wasn’t wasted time experimenting, though my learning trajectory was a bit odd.

I can’t say I was devastated. I can’t say I was happy either. It seemed a temporary measure so I took to playing it. But I refused to use all my fingers. To this day I can play any song you want using only my index finger. It wasn’t wasted time experimenting, though my learning trajectory was a bit odd.I’ll spare you the competitions I was entered in, the wins and the losses. I hated the competitions, even when I won. What I most liked was playing in

I’ll spare you the competitions I was entered in, the wins and the losses. I hated the competitions, even when I won. What I most liked was playing in an orchestra with my friends and making up songs and musical situations with my younger sister. We both sang, played the piano, violin and she – the cello. We also played reed instruments (oboe, clarinet, and bassoon) and recorders.

Music for my sister and me was an escape. It was a way to express happiness or anger or other feelings we had no words for. It was a way to understand each other with a flash of an eye or a quick intake of breath. Music was the ever present, soon-to-disappear NOW. Even better: it was this amazing gift you could give to others.

The power of practicing correctly, the ability to take apart a little problem, conquer it and add that to your musical tool chest, the feeling that comes with getting better at something tangible, the many studies that have shown learning music is an act that taps into so many parts of the brain – all this is preaching to the Waldorfian choir.

Not everyone wants to or even needs to be a professional musician. But I truly believe everyone should learn to play an instrument. It can make you a more focused, compassionate, present human who understands words are not everything. Plus, there is nothing in this world like making music with your friends.

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