Monday, August 24, 2009

Practice Only on the Days You Eat

When people find out I am a professional musician many will share that they, too played an instrument sometime. Most end by saying something along the lines of, “but I didn't like to practice.” I'm never quite sure how to respond to that because the fact is I have a secret. I don't particularly enjoy practicing either.

Playing I enjoy, and there is nothing quite like the rush from performing, but practicing? Not my favorite. I think a lot of musicians feel the same way. Practicing is a necessary task to get to do the other things we enjoy about playing an instrument. For me and many others the joy we get from playing and performing far outweigh the pain of practicing, so we do it. And it is a pain. To practice effectively you have to turn away all distractions, be incredibly critical of your work and be willing to repeat things until they are exactly right. The difference between a note being in tune and out of tune is minuscule but separates a great performance from a mediocre one.

Think of it this way: you've moved into a new house and the yard is a complete mess. The grass is overgrown, there are dead flowers and several tree stumps to get rid of. It's a daunting task. After many hours of sweat labor things look better but still aren't great. Every day you work a little more and eventually your yard is beautiful. This is a lot like practicing. Some parts of the journey are enjoyable, some aren't. The end result is completely worth it. The sense of accomplishment at being able to play a passage flawlessly that used to trip you up every time is awesome.


Anonymous said...

this post was really nice. it helped me understand the importance of practising. thank you

Anonymous said...

Kind of ironic really. I love to practice but my back yard is a total mess! :-)