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The Violin Retreat Diaries - An introduction

In this time of lockdown I’ve been really enjoying reading articles and books or listening to podcasts that have absolutely nothing to do with the current pandemic. It’s great to escape, to learn, to remember past ways of life and to hope for future ones.

At the beginning of this year, before coronavirus changed our lives, I intentionally ‘self-isolated’ myself for a week in Lendalfoot, Ayrshire on the Scottish Coast. The purpose of my retreat was to practise, to read about music and to listen to as many inspiring recordings as I could. I was desperate for a stretch of time completely free of administrative and note-learning responsibilities to focus on long-term goals; to improve technical aspects of my violin-playing but also to give myself space to be inspired and really think consciously about what kind of musician I’m striving to be and what my musical priorities are. I had no idea that only 2 months later I would have all the time in the world! But of course it felt totally different; during that week in my seaside cottage there was no anxiety, no stress, no fear. So I don’t share these diaries as an example of what one could be doing now. It was a week of intense study and immersion, and was designed as such. It would be unsustainable over a long period of time and that’s without even mentioning the detrimental impact of this situation on our ability to be creative. In writing up these diary entries I’ve tried as much as possible not to add anything new that might subconsciously want to draw parallels with where we are now because I want people to enjoy a distraction. I’m no writer (apologies in advance!) so I’ll be happy if a handful of people read this and find the creative processes interesting. Feel free to cherry-pick bits you’re personally interested in.


I had six full days of work on my retreat so will share one day at a time. Each entry includes practice notes, an examination of a technical study through a pedagogical lens, commentary on articles from a couple of Strad magazines, and reactions to some fantastic recordings. Each entry will finish with the Recording of the Day.

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