Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Perception, Reality, and the Practice Room: Why Your Practice Routine Stinks.

Ok..... to be honest, I have no idea if your practice routine stinks or not; nor will I be able to impart some magical practice schedule to suddenly make you a virtuoso. In fact, this blog will address a certain crowd. It's a club to which I used to be a member.

To which club do I refer?

It's the 'I stink, everything's terrible, why can't I play this, everything is horrible, I'm never going to get any better club'.

I freely admit, when I returned to school to restart my music degree, I was a terror in the practice room....terror to myself that is. I grunted, signed, yelled, cussed, and....on one occasion, kicked my case across a rehearsal hall so hard that it scared several people.

What on earth did I hope to accomplish with this? What possible good was I doing myself? Unfortunately, I'll bet several of you reading this blog have acted in the past or continue to act in a similar manner. Look, let's be real here. This behavior is just plain dumb.

Banging your head against the wall only gives one a headache. It does nothing to the wall and besides, the whole 'tortured artist' thing is played out. If you're doing this because you believe that this is part of how an 'artist' should act with some misplaced passion, just stop. Seriously. Stop.


Is that clear enough?

If you walk in the practice room with the attitude of 'I'm never going to get that passage right' or 'This isn't going to be very good' then your best course of action is to turn around, go have your pity party somewhere, and come back when you have the right mindset.

What IS the right mindset?

Gee, I'm glad you asked, loyal reader.  The right mindset involves a combination of science lab and child's playtime.


Ok, let me fill the gaps in that statement. Remember being a kid and playing. Let's say you were swimming. Child you decides "I'm going to swim from this point to that point underwater. Ohhhh, I didn't quite make it. Let me try to take a bigger breath and push off harder with my legs! YAY!!! I made it!"

What we often did as kids when we were playing was, in a zero pressure environment, figure out how stuff worked and, just as importantly, what doesn't work. We just need to transfer that mindset to the practice room.

"So you mentioned something about a science lab?"

Oh yeah, thanks again loyal reader. Here's what I mean about the science lab. What you were doing when 'figuring stuff out' as a kid was simply a rudimentary form of experimentation. What do the folks in science labs do? Exactly. Here's why I mentioned both-

You take the child like curiosity and enthusiasm and add the documentation of scientific experimentation. Write things down. What works? What doesn't? How did something feel? Most importantly, though, make practice into playtime. "Ok, I hit that low C at piano...I wonder if I tweaked my airstream this way if I could play it at pianissimo?" Make it a fun activity....BECAUSE IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE ONE!

"Well what happens when nothing is working?"

There are those days, huh? You're tired, you can't focus, or things just aren't coming together for some reason. There are a few options. 1: Put that activity aside and work on something else. Hit it again when your mind is fresh. 2: Go get some water and walk around for a few minutes to reset your brain a bit. 3: If it's a REALLY bad day, pack up your instrument and walk away. Explain why to your teacher, if need be, and assure them that you're hitting it again later (and then actually do!).

All fields of study have frustrations. You should absolutely try to limit yours. What we do is a joyous thing. We are part of a long and very prestigious tradition. Have fun. Explore. Figure things out!

Ok, so the next part here has nothing to do with the previous subject. Full disclosure, I'm making a small change to the blog and becoming an Amazon Affiliate. What does this mean to you? Not a darned thing, really. There will be an Amazon Banner on the blog from now on and if I mention a product that's on Amazon, I'll link to their site. This does NOT mean I'm simply going to put products on the blog to make money. However, if I'm talking about reeds, music, etc and Amazon happens to carry them, I'll make a few bucks if someone clicks on the link and buys them. Otherwise, please continue to read and comment. It won't cost you a thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment