A bit more than half-way through my master studies I realised something had happened. Something had changed in how I looked at folk music, what I thought it meant to be a folk musician and how I saw myself as a (folk) musician. At the same time I discovered that, without feeling that I made any technical progress when it came to playing the violin, I still developed a lot in my playing. A development that had more to do with what I did with my ability, rather than with increasing my ability. I realised that what had happened was a development in my mind. I allowed myself to do things that I hadn’t allowed myself to do before, even if I had the technical ability and the musical ideas. Somehow I had opened up some of my mental barriers.
Before I started studying at music academy, folk music for me was strongly connected with social events. It was music that belonged in a social context, and the social context provided its meaning. For me, doing (playing, listening to, dancing to etc.) folk music was a social act, something I did together with friends. Also as a performer, I strongly acknowledged the power of the context, and took pride in considering myself as a tool for a greater purpose, to provide the music that was right for that occasion, be that a dance evening, a wedding or a funeral.
In the third semester of the NoFo-studies came a turning point. That’s when I really started to be comfortable with the label Artist (for myself) and Art (for my music) and that created a great feeling of freedom: If what I’m doing is art, and I am an artist, then I can do whatever I like. I don’t have to feel constrained by the idea of tradition and ‘traditional playing’. Not that I dismiss the idea of tradition and traditional playing as a source of artistic knowledge, inspiration and material, but rather than seeing it as goal I started using it as a spring board, a point of departure. In the end, this left me with a completely new feeling of freedom in my playing. For me, the shift from Function to Art was what I needed to free myself from some of my inner limitations.