Philosophy: What is virtuosity? (An analysis that crosses Yoga & Music). April 2019

28 | 03 | 2019
Philosophy: What is virtuosity? (An analysis that crosses Yoga & Music). April 2019

5 years ago, someone told me that I’ll never play the piano because of a serious injury which didn’t even allow me to take the cellphone.

However, in spite of this injury and its consequences, I could play the piano, as I do everyday, with the help of a master, draconian discipline and the love of music. What’s more, I’d like to share some things that I learned during this experience.

In this post, I’ll write a reflection about anxiety, mentality and also fake illusion of virtuosity which implies that “to be good” could be a dead end.

It’s been a short time since I discovered Yoga, discipline which was always in front of me but I had never practiced before. In addition, Yoga has become in a big business due to the visual attraction that it offers, distinctly connected with lifestyle, strong and agile bodies which are able to reach the virtuosity, concept that means the quality of being extremely skilled at something, in other words and related with my musical experience, something difficult to reach. On the other hand, in my opinion, there are 2 types of virtuosity: the forced and the natural. The forced refers to when you want to reach something difficult to reach, for example: the attractive, the slogan, what you watch on Instagram, the specific or special difficult thing that the person you admire does. On the contrary, the natural refers to when your goal requires discipline, technique, time, balance and not only self love but also love regarding all the difficulties which you have to deal with. When I was an adolescent, I had one of my first forced virtuosity experiences related with music. In addition to other musical pieces considered virtuous too, I could play Rhapsody in Blue which its difficulties were focused on speed and fingering being unfortunately, an example of forced virtuosity.

What I’ve learnt through music regarding anxiety and virtuosity:

Virtuosity without the proper technique may cause chronic injuries, so it’s fundamental to have a master who can be your guide when you practice (I imagine that it works with all kind of disciplines). If you feel pain it’s because you’re doing something wrong, just stop and look for someone who can help you. Studying in a Conservatory or University is not a synonym that you are learning properly, so It’s fundamental to understand the difference between someone who can teach you and also the real concept of learning. However, there are many universities, institutions, academies and schools in Chile which their main object are selling classes and certificates but not learning how to apply a great technique in order to avoid injuries. You should know that even if you find excellent teachers in these institutions it’s your responsibility to listen them, yourself, and eventually make progress.

At the same time, anxiety is an enemy, because pushing oneself towards to a virtuosity out of the natural timing tends to cause bad consequences. In my experience as a musician, I can say that once you manage the basics of technique, you’ll find yourself with the “aura” of what you practice and then, the experience will be more meaningful and deep.

I’ve been very determined with my study about music for many years. Consequently, one of the things that I’ve learned during this process was to understand that the speed and difficulty are nothing, at least in music. Music is a language, one of fine arts. Its objective is express, share and also culturally contribute with ideas, values and feelings, in other words, it’s not a competition (excluding free market in music business). Moreover, there are some people who think that music must make that the person who listens can find itself through the music, idea which is related from aesthetics and also concepts as beauty and truth developed by Platon until art deconstruction, specifically, in "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” by Walter which is applicable today to the value of music in the digital paradigm. So, I could complete the phrase in this way: speed and difficulty are nothing more than a tool (one of many), which are more significant if there’re connected with a path, speech, an expression, in other words, being a mean and not a goal.

So, music is an space of expression that implies an internal search, both language and also "what to express" are present in each active composer. This reflection is fundamental to understand that "to be good" in composition has only one parameter within the personal universe, more specifically connected with technical and expressive tools consistent within an aesthetic (existing, non-existent, eclectic or not). Therefore, I invite you to read the following questions, which I consider important in my experience, to know your own position which you are situated within the musical paradigm: Is it good to be virtuous? Why? Why do I want to be virtuous? What am I expressing with that virtuosity?

Once you understand this, we can talk about "Music Business", which it is something completely different as composers do, because it has its own rules. The objective of music business is to manage music profits where new creations are treated as products to make money. That’s the moment when you must choose whether you follow their rules or you own rules, because there is a possibility that the market will offer as “good” something that’s not actually what you created (in the internal search). In this case, virtuosity could mean a kind of auditory pornography (considering pornography as "glamorizing of an activity", as well as the food porn or the lifestyle that is promoted on instagram, where this glamor is grotesquely celebrated), which seeks to offer you something just educating the importance of virtuosity, but is it really valuable to you? Does it contribute on your path according to what you want to say: do and what makes you happy? Why?.

Yoga, according to my short experience, is a personal journey, the same as composition, because it has its own rhythm and limits which are just imposed by the abilities of the person who is practicing the discipline. Besides, improving the technique also involves the need to look for a master who can help you avoiding injuries and being your guide in order to be your best version. I must clarify that I haven’t read neither Yoga books nor about its philosophy yet. However, through practice I can see: feel reflections of my musical path, furthermore, the questions and conclusions that I share here make me enjoy the moment of being an apprentice without anxiety or virtuous pretensions because I really enjoy the trip.

Therefore, from my experience, virtuosity should be despise as a goal, it’s ironic that in general, virtuosity is almost unavoidable if you have discipline. However, I invite readers to enjoy the path, listening and asking yourself about your expectations, where you are going, why and how, as well as to situate yourselves in the experience of practicing, both composition, piano and other paths, like yoga or another "discipline”. As a pedagogue, I’ve seen

people reaching the
virtuosity without knowing the next steps and the reason why that
happen is because these people haven’t asked themselves and
reflect about the content on this post. Virtuosity is a
consequence. What matters goes beyond: discovering it is in
your hands

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