Friday, January 17, 2014

Another frenzied practice session?

With so much music to rehearse and so little time, how do you respond? Is it going to be another one of those frenzied, aimless practice sessions? Question: is it better to play a lot sloppy, or a little well?  What's more important for our training, quantity or quality? Which comes first?

Usually when under time pressures, we quickly forsake quality for large quantities of flailing. Ten fabulous notes however, are way better than a thousand notes that no one would ever pay to hear. Wouldn't you prefer even a smidgen of gold to a wheelbarrow of dirt?

Imagine a firefighter shooting water on a burning building.  You wouldn't expect to see him randomly and frantically spraying just anywhere? We would hope he'd be patient, deliberate, and thorough, conserving his resources, and getting the job done quickly.

Or, consider the major league pitcher who can throw 110 mile-an-hour fastballs, yet he beans batters half the time.  Similarly, no one would go to a careless heart surgeon, or pay to watch a tennis pro with a chronic double-fault problem?

Just as the firefighter, the ballplayer, the surgeon, and the tennis pro cannot afford to perform poorly, so too the musician must have a mindset of discipline, quality, and accuracy even in the practice session. It's not pressure or an impossible task.  It's a positive rethinking of our approach. Every notes counts. It should remove nervous stress and make practice more efficient and rewarding.   Replace frenzy with organized music-making. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Escaping the Cubicle!

Picture two very different scenarios.  One is a boring cinder block practice cubicle, the other is a spectacular concert hall.  The next time you sit there in your solitary confinement, visualize an entirely different venue!  No one ever made it to the second without excelling in the first.

One of the problems with practice rooms is the sterile and uninspiring environment. Acoustics are always horrible, your sound evaporates instantly, and nobody is there to listen. (Can there be music in the forest if there is no one there to hear it?)  Maybe you should have a colorful mural painted on your practice room wall just for realistic expectations.  Then add some piped in crowd noise, applause, the tuning A, and the tapping baton?  Next, add some terrifying and inspiring maestro pics, and your practice efficiency could be revitalized enormously. 

Now your are ready to begin your playing session.  Remember, you have no notes to waste, no trial starts, no getting lost, no transposing break downs, no intonation clashes, no rhythmic malfunctions, just pure, enjoyable music-making!

Yes, you must work, but you must also perform. Make getting used to it a fun project.