This is a post from double bassist from Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music student Nicholas Hart. Nick will be contributing weekly posts to the bass blog about life as a music student in one of the nation’s most exclusive programs. I think readers will find this different perspective on the double bass world and the music world in general to be quite interesting, and I am looking forward to reading these posts. You will be able to read all of Nick’s contributions under the articles link in the menubar.
The “funk” is something that all music students and, I assume, professional musicians deal with on a regularly recurring basis. For these past four months or so I suffered the “funk.” Anyone who plays music for a living experiences this and to me the “funk” deals with not being motivated and questioning my career choices. For me, it started when I was stressed out and overworked. I should have taken a few days off but instead decided to keep practicing and keep working through my fatigue. Eventually this led to me wearing down my immune system, coming down with a nasty viral infection, and then still practicing through my sickness because I had boards coming up. After this I lost my motivation to practice, I was always frustrated with my playing, and I felt like the more I worked the less I improved.
The “funk” can be brought on by any number of issues. The majority of the time I see it in musicians who are dealing with technique issues. For somebody that is an advanced and/or accomplished musician, problems with the functionality of our technique can be very frustrating – leading to over fatigue and in some extreme cases injury. The “funk” can be grueling to a musician because not only does it affect our musical life, but it branches into other parts of life as well.
When I go in the “funk” not only do I not want to practice, but I have trouble doing my homework, don’t want to write (one of the main reasons for my unfortunate lengthy absence from blog writing) and find myself getting frustrated very easily around others. For many musicians, this can be similar to a depression. The “funk” usually entails losing inspiration and moving away from the mysticism and spiritual nourishment of music, and getting fed up with the over academic nature of music and the work involved. It can be debilitating to many people, and for example, when I am in a “funk” I almost always gain wait and stop working out.
In this upcoming series, I am going to outline some precursors and warning signs to the “funk” and quick remedies and solutions to it. This past “funk” that I am on the back end of was a very lengthy one, and gave me new insight into music and ways to stay motivated and avoid frustration and ways to lose your motivation. The “funk” can never be avoided, but it can be treated and shortened with some heads up knowledge and some simple techniques.
About the Author
Admitted into the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music at age 16, Nicholas Hart is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Music degree as a scholarship student of Albert Laszlo. A product of the New York City Public School System, Nicholas attended the Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division where he studied with Eugene Levinson. Nicholas has performed in Solo, Orchestral, and Chamber ensembles throughout New York City in venues such as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and Symphony Space. Nicholas enjoys a long collaboration with the New York Pops, having performed with them and being one of the first recipients of their Martin J. Ormandy Memorial Scholarship. Additional studies include masterclasses with Harold Robinson, Timothy Cobb, David J. Grossman and Pasquale Delache-Feldman as well as summer study with Bret Simner. Nicholas has performed with such artists as Aaron Rosand and David Bilger, and aspires to play in a major symphony orchestra after college.
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