The approach and attitude towards difficulties is truly the most important. Some young children seem to believe that doing the piece over and over again from beginning to the end as fast and loud as possible will solve their problems and allow them to improve omnipotently.

Sadly, practicing like an enraged bull, repeatedly attacking an unbreakable gate will just result in a tired bull with nothing to show for its tenacious efforts.

When I was younger, and a less experienced teacher, I had a lot of students who “lied” about how much practice they did. However, this simple and very possible theory failed when the student’s siblings and parents would confirm the fact that the student practiced thirty minutes every day. How is it possible for a student to practice almost three hours per week and not improve, even getting worse.

After much questioning and demonstrations of how the student practiced at home, it quickly became apparent that the student was practicing like a bull at a gate – messy, rushed, repetitive, mindless motions reinforcing mistakes and bad habits. Needless to say, I now teach my students how to practice carefully.

Albert Einstein has a beautiful quote that sums up a need for different approaches when problem solving: “No problem can be solved with the same level of consciousness that created it”. Or “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Wonderful, timeless quotes from a genius which transcend time, place and specifics, they apply to all things, not just maths or physics, but music, art and even relationships.

One more quote in regards to practice, this one is from one great violinist to another younger great violinist. Nathan Milstein once asked his teacher Leopold Auer how many hours a day should be practiced. Auer responded by saying: “Practice with your fingers and you will need all day, practice with your mind and you will do as much in one and a half hours”.

Practice carefully with attention to details, think about what you are doing, even before doing it. Don’t make difficult things more complicated, find a way to make them easy.

Enjoy the journey. Enjoy the music, with a song in your heart you can always find inspiration and happiness. Music, a gift for life.