Those Who Encourage Us
Sometimes it can be difficult to know who encourages us and who brings us down. Those we're closest to have our trust, so when they are discouraging it can be hard to notice. Which is why as a musician it is very important to have a wide range of communication and influences beyond your music teacher and family.
Whether this means chatting with other musicians online or "busking" one afternoon on a busy street corner, it's important to get feedback from those outside your core contact group in order to assess yourself as a musician. Of course, don't be surprised if no one stops to listen if you're playing outside! It just mean you're no better of a player than Joshua Bell...
If playing in public still makes you nervous (something you need to get over soon!), then try uploading your best pieces to YouTube. Think about it - you put a lot of time into learning a song, and then if you don't play it for a performance it will be lost...forever. You may never revisit that particular piece again. So I believe in the importance of recording the performing arts because otherwise there are no records of the players, just the composers. And a composer without someone to perform his piece is like writing legislation without having citizens to benefit from it.
Two years ago, one of our great violinists went from this earth. His recordings can be found on on this Youtube page. Thank goodness he took the time to record his life's work. My mother and father both encouraged my violin playing, she through her love of music and daily excitement about my studies, and he through his own fantastic playing. My brother's way of explaining his analysis of the great works was of tremendous influence and prepared me for my college theory and history courses. And of course I will always be thankful to my aunt, who bought me my very first violin.
So, I was very lucky to have a close and encouraging family. I didn't realize how lucky I was all the time. But now I certainly do. Know those who encourage you in your music. Thank them. And let go of anyone who brings you down.