YouTube has never really been my thing. I have seen my share, of course, as a passionate, 21st century consumer of information, but I prefer reading – in fact I will often skip a news story if it’s only available on video. But since I started playing the violin, I’ve started watching YouTube videos about playing the violin. I don’t know much about the instrument, caring for it, the accessories available, different types of violins available – it’s a whole new world and I’m having fun learning about it.
Part of me feels a little strange watching strangers and getting advice from them online. I’m involved in another formal pursuit of learning, my karate practice, and while I have pursued some martial arts videos online, I have a relationship with my teachers that makes videos, especially of the instructional variety, seem a little silly. I have amazing teachers – why would I need the sound-bite help of people I don’t know? Now that I’m a bit further into my karate practice, I have some discernment as it pertains to evaluating others’ instructional methods, of course. Mostly, that discernment tells me that there’s no learning the martial arts from watching YouTube videos, much to the chagrin of many commenters!
I’m trying to decide if the analogy holds with the violin. Karate-do is a path. The appellation “-do” in Japanese language and culture implies a pursuit that is meant to build character, a pursuit that is part art, part intellect, part body – many say spirit. Most people would agree that music is certainly all of those things. Taiko drumming is a Japanese form of instrument and performance that applies the type of serious study and development of the individual of a -do form to percussion, for example. The idea is embedded in Japanese culture with all kinds of learning that are worth spending a lifetime on – I just posted a couple of days ago about the Suzuki method containing some of the same ideas about serious musical study developing character.
A main difference I see between the ways in which I’m practicing karate and the violin is that I only have 30 minutes with Teacher per week, compared with the hours I have with my karate teachers. Still, many of the YouTube violin videos seem targeted at people who don’t have a teacher at all. I suspect much of my online exploration will subside as I absorb the basics and begin to have plenty to go on in my own practice and with the advice of my own teacher. In the meantime, I hope my impatience doesn’t get me into trouble.
Thanks for reading.