Thursday, February 5, 2009

Practice Practice Practice

"We perform what we practice."
"Only practice on the days you eat."
"Practice makes better."
"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time"
Or my friend's small black button on her coat, "go home and practice".

How many ways can I encourage, nudge, nurture, foster, engage the young artist? Musicians can't just show up and BE great. (That only happens on TV, like American Idol) Musicians BECOME great when they work out the details. I want to push, I'd like to nip a little on their heels, but I refrain. I can't make them love this. I can lead them to the music, I can be a good example. I am trying to ask the right questions and put the numbers out there. After all this is mathematical. If you want to be memorable, you spend the time at the bench. What goal can I set before you in a small attainable way that sparks your inner fire to do more, go higher?

Minutes per day, hours per week, it's not glamorous, nor is it a mystery, really. I remember sitting in the basement practicing and hearing kids play ball in the open field next to our house. I got out there eventually. I didn't mind the process, most days.

February is that revealing month as end of the year goals start to look out of reach. It happens every year. We eagerly said "yes, of course we can" accomplish this or that. The wonderful thing in September is that it's all true. We CAN accomplish the goal, if we put in the time, slowly, daily, working toward May. It's what our country will realize soon. "Yes, we can" will take daily hard honest work.

If I didn't practice as a tortoise, slowly and steadily conquering the road, February now looks bleak. 10 weeks until May is over. The task too mighty, the deadline too near. Minutes a day now better become hours. It's not always the talented that rise to the top - it's often the hard worker. Bach once said that everyone would have as many compositions if they worked as hard as he. He believed more than talent he had a stronger work ethic than most. Yikes.

I have a fantastic quote on my wall from Jon Kimura Parker. "I practiced this and this and this (imagine big black sharpie arrows pointing to the program notes), even when I was completely sick of them!"

How many ways can I encourage you? Go and practice. You can do it.


  1. I am not a musician. I took piano lessons for a couple of years when I was a pre-teen, but the hours of practice, I could not do. To this day, I love listening and working to piano music. However, when it came to bowling, I could go for hours. As an adult semi-pro bowler, I grew to love the quiet hours of practice. I guess it seems funny to think of bowling as quiet with all the loud bangs and crashes, but my mind would always settle into stillness. Frame after frame, game after game, hour after hour, I would throw. My practice sessions would start with quiet acceptance that I this was my path. I was not a "natural" as were some. But my success was rooted in repetition and tenacity. After the first half hour, I would begin to hit my rhythym and was soon lost in the subtle nuances of each and every shot. On non-tournament weeks I would easily shoot 50-70 games. If it was a tournament week, there would be another 20-35 games. At some point the lines between practice and performance blur. They are one and the same. In the end, it was always just me smashing down as many pins with the ball as I could. Yes, you can!

  2. I found you through Ronda's Wonderland, and was just thinking I should check it out. I am not musical, but my two nieces play the piano and a few other instruments and they would agree "practice, practice" is the way to learn. My huband is musical and has never taken lessons, but can pick up a lot of instruments and just start playing. Not sure how he does that, I would scare the mice away if I were to try to make any music.

    I too like Ronda used to bowl. I loved bowling and was not really that good at it. I loved the visiting with friends each week just as much as I loved the bowling. Due to arthritis and back problems I will never be able to bowl again, but I sometimes pick up that Wii remote and bowl a game or two with the grandkids. I bowl better on there than I ever did in real life. Again, hubby was natural at that also. But he too cannot bowl due to injuries also. Oh well such is life.

    Sounds cold in Minnesota, I am in So. CA and pretty much know nothing about snow. Keep warm.

    aka Mrsupole


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