Musicians / Perfect Practice / Trying Something New

Posted: February 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

As a musician, you always strive to do better, learn more about your craft and expand your skill set. It’s a constant battle of thinking how can I do better, telling yourself you are good enough to even do the things you are doing now. You practice not only your instrument, but your writing, in an attempt to find that connection with anyone that will listen. At the same time you walk a tightrope knowing that at any moment your abilities could be torn to shreds by a criticizing word. The truth is musicians are the craziest people out there. We ask people to “listen to this new song I wrote,” fully knowing that we are giving them the opportunity to dismantle the very thing we pour our hearts into for hours, days and sometimes years. Its hard. Everyone has an opinion, a criticism, a suggestion. After we get over ourselves and our anger with the person WE asked for critique, we realize that they are usually right and we get back to it. Nose to the grindstone. We try new things, we write 3 lines of a song and throw the paper in the trash because it’s not perfect. The truth is we strive for a perfection that will never come. I recently read an article that you can find HERE that talks about practice. It hits on the point that the idea of practice isn’t to be perfect but to make mistakes and learn from them. INSERT LIFE LESSON HERE. I love this paragraph in the article:

But then there are times when this no-mistakes-allowed definition of perfect practice makes us afraid to try a new way of doing things – something that might help us take our playing to a new level in the long term, but make us sound worse in the short term.

Or times when we are afraid to stretch ourselves. Reluctant to explore the edges of our current technical ability to see what cool things we might be capable of. Unwilling to really take some risks and go for broke in such a way that might lead us to fall on our face – but could also produce something very compelling to listen to. Far too many students I’ve spoken with are afraid to experiment and risk sounding bad even in the practice room, fearing the judgment of students who may be passing by or eavesdropping.

I want to be trying new things, stretching my abilities and risk sounding bad, why, because as a musician that’s where we  find our love for music. Not in the familiar, everyday stuff that we know we can do, but in the things that we can’t do. The things we strive for and achieve, no matter how long it takes to get it right. The best part is…when we do get it right, there is always something more we can learn, something new we can try. It’s a never ending cycle. It’s an unending love / hate relationship that us musicians live for. It’s our passion.


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