I definitely go through phases in my practicing and music-making where I crave the challenge of something difficult; then other times I'd simply like to enjoy the skills I have and play something that is comfortably do-able.
Of course, the thresholds of "difficult" and "doable" will be different for every player. The "doable" music for someone who plays in the New York Philharmonic might be the "difficult" music for a college student or dedicated amateur musician. The "doable" music for a college student might be extremely challenging for someone who has been playing only for a few years.
At any stage, music can feel "difficult" if it is new and not easily sight-readable, or if it has techniques that are challenging, like fancy bowings, double-stops, fast passages, awkward fingerings, dissonance, complex counting, difficult keys, etc. This can be exciting and invigorating, if you are feeling motivated and if your efforts lead to incremental progress. On the other hand, if the challenge is too daunting, it can be frustrating and discouraging. "I'll never learn this!"
Ironically, something might be "easily do-able" simply because you've already done it - it is well-learned and ready to go. Recently a fellow musician described a certain piece as being "hard to learn, easy to play." That may sound crazy, but it can be very true! After you've worked very hard on certain pieces, they can stay with you and remain "easy" to play - especially if you revisit them frequently. Playing the "easily do-able" can be a real virtue in this way, keeping your chops up by moving your mind and fingers through music that you play well, and continuing to improve it. (We Suzuki teachers call it "review"!)
So within those parameters of your own playing and progress, what is your inclination, at the moment? Do you wish to enjoy and improve on the do-able, or to push your limits with something that feels more difficult and challenging? What are the things that motivate you to try the "difficult"? What benefits do you derive from playing the "easily do-able"? Please participate in the vote, then share your thoughts on finding the balance between "difficult" and "do-able."
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