Musicians can form highly beneficial relationships with their instruments that but these relationships can vary widely and are not based purely on monetary value or rarity of the instrument.
The case of famous violinist Min-Jin-Kim’s £1.2 million 1696 Antonio Stradivarius violin being found by police and returned to her after it was stolen outside Euston station in 2010 highlighted obvious crime prevention issues. Her reaction when it was returned however also highlighted the importance to her of the relationship that she had clearly formed with a very special instrument prior to its theft.
Press reports at the time of the instrument’s return featured quotes from Min-Jin-Kim where she described her “devastation” and feelings of “responsibility” for the loss, and her “elation” and feeling on “cloud nine” at its return. It would of course be easy to put this down to the value and rarity of the instrument but it’s likely that she felt she was being re-united with a special instrument with which she had formed a special and valued relationship.
This idea of forming a beneficial relationship with an instrument is supported by research carried out by the University of Finland’s Cognitive Brain Research Unit the findings of which were published in May in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts (see http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2012-32428-001/).
These research results showed that many musicians express a close relationship with their musical instrument, with those feeling ‘at one’ with and considering the instrument as ‘part of themselves’ experiencing more confidence and less anxiety when performing. The musicians who felt this satisfactory and beneficial relationship with their instrument also appeared to enter a state of intense concentration which the study’s authors termed a “flow state” of “effortless attention” which sounds akin to what many musicians may recognise as being ‘in the zone’.
What about those musicians who have appeared on the surface at times to have little regard for their individual instruments such as well known guitar smashers from the rock world Pete Townsend or Jimi Hendrix?
When on-stage guitar smashing was still relatively young Pete Townsend explained in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 1968 about his anger over the lack of audience reaction to his first accidental breakage of his guitar that he described as “precious to me” leading to a deliberate making “a big thing of breaking the guitar”.
In the case of Jimi Hendrix it is now known that he swapped his favourite black Stratocaster (sold at auction for nearly £250,000 last year) for a cheaper model in order to destroy the cheaper substitute in his famous Monterey Pop Festival performance of 1968. It seems that even those who have publicly destroyed instruments are unlikely therefore to be destroying their favourites – those with which they have a special relationship.
Gary Bridgewood of renowned London fine stringed instrument dealers, repairers and restorers Bridgewood & Neitzert describes his understanding of the special relationship between a musician and their favourite instrument:
“Finding an instrument that feels and sounds just right, like it’s a part of you, and seems to feel easier for you to play than other instruments can undoubtedly have beneficial effects on your playing and your confidence in playing. This could mean spending a bit more on finding the right instrument. It can also mean that some musicians will feel more comfortable with an instrument that their peers admire and like and sounds great to the audience. If you’re particularly happy and comfortable playing a specific instrument, and playing in a particular venue and atmosphere in my experience you can reach a kind of deep concentration. This can lead to you producing a level of performance and connectivity with your fellow musicians and the audience that is special and would be hard to replicate. A good relationship with a trusted and loved instrument can be an important part of producing good music and good performances.
For more information call Gary Bridgewood on 020 7249 9398 or visit http://www.vivaceviolin.com/
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