Competition

I’ve noticed something happening in my violin studio. Students are starting to judge how good they are based on the song they’re learning, and what others are working on. One student wanted to check and make sure that she was still ahead of everyone else. Other students have expressed discontentment that someone is ahead of them. Using the Suzuki books it’s easy for people to compare themselves to others. What song are you on? Which book are you in? These questions are usually the first questions upon meeting someone new. Not worried about someone’s name, the overwhelming concern has become how student’s size up against others.

 

I will admit to having some of these same issues. I compare myself to colleagues where I teach, and other musicians I come across at jobs trying to figure out how I stack up against others. Even as a runner I want to see how I measure up against others. Sometimes it seems that we are so concerned with how we stack up against others that we forget our own worth. Is really that important what song someone else is on? The immediate answer is yes. It is how we are taught to measure ourselves against others. I’ve been trying to emphasize that there are other things that are important than just what song a student is on. It’s not just about what you know, it’s about how you use it too. Just playing notes and learning a song is only a small part of the equation. There is value in sound, tone, and technique. The important part is to find beauty in what you’re doing. Do you want to listen to a song that you know how to play, but doesn’t sound good, or would you rather listen to the same song played well, that’s beautiful.

 

How often do we look over the little things that separate us from others just to try to be the same as others? I’ve tried to make an effort to take care of what I’m doing, and not compare myself as much. It makes life much lighter. Why would we want to be the same as someone else? comparisons and competition have become in grained in our culture today. Maybe it’s time to step back, and just look at what’s beautiful about what we do each day, and see our own worth.

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One thought on “Competition

  1. Ohmygosh–I LOVE this post! you expressed literally everything I feel concerning competition….and I find myself doing the exact same thing more often than not. Particularly last year when I was doing a few auditions and not really concentrating very well on my own playing (measured up to my own self), but rather, I kept worrying about how it compared to maybe the next person auditioning for the very same job, etc. IT was awful. And you’re right: worrying in that way makes life so heavy and it really drags you down further and further. One of my New Year’s “resolutions” is to completely rid myself of that unproductive mindset and focus on what just needs to be done. Not–“is it better than how she/he plays it? Do I sound better at this piece than so-and-so?”

    sorry for such a lengthy comment–I’m so glad I learned this about myself and it’s a relief to know that I’m not the only one who’s “done” that!

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