I don’t know about you, but when I get my mind set on accomplishing something, I focus on that one thing until my goal is accomplished…in fact, I do this to a fault.

When I was in school, an aspiring concert violinist, my focus was as narrow as it could be. I had opportunities to attend concerts by wonderful concert artists, but I always had this ridiculous “practice quota” that I had to meet, so I more often than not skipped the concerts. I would sometimes go if it was a violinist, but I skipped all the ones that were not violin related. I had a chance to see Wynton Marsalis, Edgar Meyers, and Jesse Norman, but skipped them, because I had to practice!

I beg you, good people, do not get tunnel vision like I did! Listening to good music of ALL KINDS impacts your concept of sound and of music, and improves your aptitude for artistry. Since then, I have attempted to compensate for my ignorance and I will attend every concert I get a chance to attend. My CD collection is no longer 5 different recordings of every violin concerto. I have world music, jazz, opera, and all sorts of mixed classical music.

Watching and listening to masters of ANY style can give you one more small facet to your artistic development. You might learn how to play better Bach listening to Wynton Marsalis, and you might learn how to interpret Mozart by listening to his operas.

Also, by comparing different interpretations of the same piece, say, Mozart’s Violin Concerto in G Major, you will learn what things are at the performer’s discretion, and what things should be played strictly. You will hear the differences in technique, choice of bowings, different vibrato styles, slight differences in ornamentation, and you’ll get a feel for who handles Mozart with white gloves, and who brings out his humor.

In other words, you will get a 3D concept of sound and violin performance. Your practice sessions will take on new depth as you start making artistic choices for yourself, and you might find yourself thinking, “Oh wow, this f-minor chord needs special treatment….I’m going to sit on this note a little longer and let it bloom.” And at that moment, I will be in the audience applauding!