“Let’s promise each other, 2011 is the year of living dreams. Let’s all promise each other that we’re gonna reach out in sight. We’re gonna grab that piece of something that we always wanted, the special thing in our lives, and we’re gonna persue it no matter what.”
– Jared Leto
Happy 2011! Belated, surely, but still relevant as it is only the seventh day of the year.
Initially I was contemplating writing something on economics here (or, more specifically, the concept of the free economy, the economics of the ’00s, and where we are) but I chanced upon the quote above and thought I should perhaps address something more fundamental here – new year’s resolution(s). And if people ever achieve them.
TIME had an article earlier this week on 10 Commonly Broken New Year’s Resolutions. I am sure we can relate to some of that, cringe a little and laugh nervously at ourselves for Yet Another Failed Resolution. Any wonder why people shudder when you ask them about their resolutions?
Looking back to my 2010 (and 2009), I have to say most of the time it’s pretty tricky. I don’t really have a set resolution per se, more like things I’d like to do regardless of its time-goal. Of course, in 2009 it was easier (goal: finish thesis, get First-Class honours. Accomplished? You betcha!). In 2010, however, it has been a year where things get slightly adrift.
In 2010, I started my career. I started on the violin.
By the end of 2010, I had quite a year in my career life. I was (still am) with the violin, registered for Grade 2 practical examinations in 2011.
On the first note, I felt a sense of accomplishment looking at the (im)possibles I had achieved, but I wished it had been different, naturally. But I shan’t complain. It was a steep but good learning process.
On the latter note, I felt a sense of pride when I run through pieces that are substantially more difficult than when I initially started. There were times when I plateaued in my progress, and honestly they were discouraging. One doubts oneself, as if one’s lost their ear for pitch in merely a day, or the inability to play as fast as the previous round of practice, or to sightread badly. I have difficulties in playing expressively for the slower pieces (something I’ll really need to overcome), but my strengths have been faster, constant-tempo pieces, my ability to ‘cheat’ with sightreading (which gotten me through a significant amount of lessons mid-year when I was too busy to practice adequately), and my ability to know if I’ve gone off-pitch (intonation has been an area in which I’ve received much praise from my many teachers/sub teachers – I may not have perfect pitch, but after a year of playing a fretless instrument as pitch-sensitive as the guqin, one’s ears do get better at noting if a note is too high or too low)… so to have off-days, they do get discouraging.
I have been asked frequently if I have a new year’s resolution in 2011. Perhaps I do. Perhaps I don’t.
Let’s build on the pre-existing ones from 2010.
I’ll focus on picking a job that allows me to have a fulfilling career life – one filled with things to learn and challenges to face, to grow dynamically/professionally, and to also have a life.
As for music, a tangible goal will be to play the Prelude from J. S. Bach’s Partita No. 3. The piece stands at 4 pages long. Most recordings stand at 3 mins 30 seconds. It has almost constant-rhythm, filled with sixteenth notes. 4th position is almost a certain. Almost a mad goal, considering where I stand at the moment in terms of technical capability.
Though honestly I don’t feel daunted. I think I am making good progress on my other pieces. Tackling this would be easier, mentally, than sorting out the other thing, honestly.
I won’t be tackling this piece yet, however. Initially I gave the piece a little test-run but I realised no, I am not ready for it, yet. I should be better at others. Learning/memorising a new piece is not a problem for me, but to get my fingers to be physically ready for the gymnastics of the Prelude should be my goal. I will only be starting on the Prelude for real at mid-year.
Meanwhile, I have been doing practice pieces that have similar structure to the Prelude (Baroque-themed pieces with similar fingerings; constant-tempo pieces), in addition to trying to be as pitch-accurate (perfection is abstract) in everything else I play. And scales. Oh how I realise the importance of scales.
I will also be recording myself playing my ‘best piece’ by the end of each month, so as to chart my progress. Call it the build-up before the climax.
Meanwhile, here’s to practice, practice, practice, … and by the end of 2011, I want to prove the world that there’s nothing impossible, not if you set your heart and your ears to it.