I was in church this morning listening to the choir and orchestra. As I was watching the talented musicians, two of the violinists caught my eye.
One of the violinists was playing with keen focus on the sheet music. Each stroke of his bow was controlled and precise. The sound emanating from his instrument was pleasant.
The other violinist sitting next to this young man was playing the same music at the same tempo, but with a joy that was hard to ignore. Even though her arms, hands, and fingers were causing her bow and violin to make a beautiful sound, her body was moving dramatically and rhythmically. I’m sure the notes she was playing were as precise as the violinist sitting next to her, but there was a freedom in the way she played.
As I tried to listen intently to these two musicians, the sound coming out of the young woman’s violin was clearly richer than any of the other violinists. She immersed herself in the music as if she were the only person in the orchestra. I doubt she was worrying about who was looking at her or if anyone was judging her performance.
One of my biggest challenges as a baseball and softball hitting coach is to convince players to trust the swing they worked so hard to perfect, especially in games. I tell them that each at-bat should be a performance. It is an opportunity to showcase the final result of hours and hours of practice in the batting cages. However, each performance should be more for the hitter than the crowd in the stands.
Of course, the violinist in church was performing for the congregation, but what I observed was her love for the music and a display of her personal form of worship. She trusted all the hours of practice would help her to express herself when it came time to play her music in a concert.
Hitters should express themselves at the plate and perform because they love the game. They should be excited to share their talents with those who appreciate a well-executed single, a double off the wall, or a long home run. Hitters should be thankful for the opportunity to use the talents they were blessed with to play a game that is fun and a welcome distraction from the pressures of life.
Baseball and softball hitters should perform like the master violinist who gets so lost in the music, the violin appears to be playing itself. I always tell my hitters if they swing with freedom and confidence in games the same way they swing in practice, then they will marvel at the way the bat explodes into the ball as if it had a mind of its own.
So, get in the batter’s box and swing the bat like a master violinist. As the ball approaches home plate, use the bat like a violin bow to hit the ball with the right tempo, at just the right time, and at the perfect angle. Finish the swing like the bow smoothly and powerfully finishing the final note of music. Then, take a bow as the crowd acknowledges and appreciates the successful performance that surely came from your soul.
** Glenn Donnellan (pictured above) combines his love for playing the violin with his love for the game.