Can you remember the first time you touched your instrument? The first lesson you had? Or the first time you saw someone playing your instrument, and that feeling of wanting to try it so badly?
Can you remember that joy, that enthusiasm? The happiness of experiencing something new, creating something beautiful?
In the case of MFD, as the years went past, our joy and happiness slowly weakened. Our feelings toward the instrument changed, perhaps due to our teachers, bad experiences, negative judgment and fear.
It’s all about fear
Fear of not getting good enough, fear of not reaching our goals, fear of what other people think. And this fear slowly took over and became stronger than the happiness we experienced when playing.
This is when MFD symptoms start, and the instrument becomes the ultimate source of misery.
Knowing what we were capable of before the MFD, and facing the problem day by day, we continue fighting, trying, practicing and experiencing that symptoms increasing instead of getting better.
Doing more of what doesn’t work won’t make it work any better.
— Charles J. Givens
What can we do? What’s the solution?
Take a step back. Stop what you’re doing. Think.
The same routine leads you to the same results. Therefore, you have to make a change.
If you accept the fact that MFD is as much an emotional problem as it is a neurological and physical one, it’s logical that you have to change your emotions towards the instrument.
But how? How can you change? You can’t stop yourself feeling something, but with some concentration, you can create different feelings – different neuro-associations.
Close your eyes and try to remember that child, eager to try, happy to play, having fun while practicing, and proud after lessons. Close your eyes, and imagine the time when everything was effortless and you did well without trying hard. Close your eyes and re-live the best moments.
This feeling of joy is the most precious thing. No job, prize, or success is worth as much as this. And funnily enough, if you experience this feeling, it helps you to perform better.
Even when you’re going through a retraining process, enjoy the simple things you can do on your instrument. If it’s only one note then, it’s only one note. It doesn’t matter. Explore what you can do with curiosity, instead of judging yourself, because “you should do better” or “it’s nothing compared to what I used to be capable of”.
Only you can give yourself back the happiness. Don’t deny it from yourself.
When I was 12, I was told that I couldn’t start playing the flute because the school had already rented out all its instruments. I was really sad, so my parents decided to get me a special Christmas present. This is the “historic moment” when I first touched a flute.
There was no turning back after that. Look at that face! 🙂
Ever since I re-discovered this picture, I try to approach my instrument with the same pure joy as I had that Christmas morning.