I had an important conversation with a violin student this week. We spent an entire lesson on ‘finding meaning in what we do’.
J__ is a remarkable fiddler. From the first lesson he had with me, it was clear that he was motivated. I see it in other areas of his life, too. I get the feeling he does well in whatever he sets his mind to.
There is a piece of music that he became obsessed with — Bistro Fada. If you’ve seen Midnight in Paris, you’re familiar with it. It is fun, incredibly difficult and was a few levels ahead of where J__ was 6 months ago. But he was determined to learn it.
With focus and a lot of hours, J__ learned it. And in the 2 months since that moment, his motivation has declined significantly.
Earlier this week, he confessed that he is has lost his drive in violin. Which led to our extended conversation about ‘meaning’ and asking ourselves the hard question ‘why am I am doing this?’
One of the benefits of learning music is that it gives students an opportunity to practice life. Because learning the violin requires a commitment to a discretionary activity, at some point we wonder — why are we doing this?
J__ loves conquering challenges. That drive got him to a high level of playing. But it has run its course (for now, anyways).
I’m not worried about J__ quitting music. It is clear that he loves playing and people love playing with him. Plus, he has more than enough skills to enjoy music without another lesson in his life.
Discovering what he likes doing beyond ‘succeeding’ is his next frontier. Is it writing music, performing, playing with friends or something else entirely?
At some point, we all hit a point in our lives where we ask the question— why are we doing this? Years from now, J__ will likely face the question again in some other area of life. But he’ll have more experience in answering it than most people his age.