Having written two posts already about releasing the guilt surrounding practicing and taking a more relaxed and focussed approach I must now make an argument for, in support of, and cheerleading practicing. In an impromptu speech to my students at a Jam Recital I was heard to say, “I know I don’t require practicing to participate in our community. But, that doesn’t mean ‘don’t practice.’ Take a moment to remember how good you would like to be at your craft. Your ultimate vision. Then weigh that against how many years you have left in your natural life and see if, perhaps, you should get to practicing!” What I meant by that is that if you practice once per week at your lesson you will improve gradually, over time. It will just take a muuuuccccchhhh longer time to get to a place of having more fun playing and singing more advanced pieces that you long to sing and play.
It’s all about balance. Take a couple of deep breaths. I’ll wait… Now, picture yourself vowing to practice 4 hours every single day in order to get really really good. Now imagine yourself trying to meet that expectation and failing about half of the time. It’s not that just super busy and trying to do most things in your life that way (How we do anything is how we do everything!) It’s that you’re a human being and sometimes you don’t feel like it, or you have a migraine, or there is a hike calling your name, or your general anxiety is now meeting your seasonal depression, or whatever. So, how do you feel about practicing now? How does it feel in your body as you just imagine it?! For many of us who try to summon our will power and discipline ourselves to practice for an unrealistic amount of time for a vague goal like “getting really good,” it becomes a tight little box with a label on the outside that says, “Ways To Feel Bad About Myself.”
This is why I created the “Inspiration Method” of practicing as opposed to the traditional discipline model. Let’s shake off the tightness that happened when thinking about failing your practicing and flip it to something exciting. Imagine yourself in your ULTIMATE musical form. Are you on stage? Do you have a band behind you? Are you making awesome musical arrangements with your family? Now, envision what it would take to get you there. You would need to teach your muscles to do what they needed to do to play or sing that song you are doing, easily, right? I mean, so you can focus on your adoring fans. 😉 How do you teach your muscles? Repetition. So take what you are working on with your amazing teacher home and do it as many times as it takes to train your muscles and your mind to get you closer to that ultimate goal. How does that program sound to you? Check in with your body. Is it tight and tense like before when we were talking about the discipline model? Or is it more fun and filled with possibilities?
Music at its purest is an adventure. It’s a journey toward mastery. It’s a way to understand and connect with the world in a deeper way. Don’t judge. Don’t shame. Don’t focus on what you didn’t do. DO let your inspiration run the show, so to speak. DO encourage others in their music-making. DO stay in a state of curiosity. DO practice.