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Midori Goto, one of America’s premier violinists, came to Eugene in July to thrill audiences of the Oregon Bach Festival. Since one of her passions is teaching children and young adults about music, she devoted much of one day to leading master classes. I was among those fortunate enough to watch two of the sessions, when she coached six talented teenagers who had prepared music to perform for this virtuoso performer.

I have played violin since I was two years old, and so I can tell you that playing the violin is hard. Playing it as well as these six young people did — even harder. It takes years of learning to master every tiny muscle in the hands, arms, neck and entire upper body. But it’s so much more than that. Much of being successful in music is the mental control.

What I saw of Midori’s coaching left me tingling with excitement, not only because I am passionate about my violin music and the playing my kids do, but because she shared wisdom that all of us can use as parents and human beings.

Midori Residency 19-1Courtesy of Oregon Bach FestivalMidori spoke to some key secrets to success in music — and life. From her work with these talented kids, I was reminded of some crucial pearls of wisdom:

Lesson 1: Being amazing at something takes work, and lots of it. These kids weren’t born incredible violinists; they worked at it. Thousands of hours of practice, repetition, discipline and finding the joy in the process — that’s what makes you great at anything. The majority of people who are at the top of their field, be it music or medicine or business, will tell you that it took them a ton of work, dedication and time. Midori, as amazing as she is, spends several hours a day practicing her violin. But she always sees room for improvement.