Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Planned Practice

Practice isn't an accident. It doesn't just happen. You don't just stumble into a 3hour practice session.

Practice is a deliberate act. It's a focused, committed, and planned occurence. If you plan your whole day out and don't plan out a specific time and length for a practice session, chances are it won't happen. And if it does, it won't happen in a structured or planned fashion, thereby stunting its effectiveness.

Here's the big point...WHEN YOU PLAN YOUR DAY, SCHEDULE YOUR PRACTICE SESSION IN THE SAME WAY YOU SCHEDULE A DOCTOR'S APPOINTMENT, A COLLEGE COURSE, OR A HOT DATE. This means getting out your calendar, or Blackberry, or iPhone, or the back of your hand or whatever and blocking out a period of time devoted solely to practicing your craft. My relationship with my wife didn't happen by happened through me purposefully planning time with her...getting out my calendar and writing her in.

This is how a sample day looked in college for me...

5:30am-Wake up and shower
6:00am-Breakfast and devotions
6:30-9:30-Practice Snare and Drumset
1:00pm-Jazz Band
2:00pm-Practice Mallet and Keyboard Instruments
4:00-6:00pm-Practice Drumset or attend Ensemble Class

Practice was never an accident and it very rarely took me by suprise. I very rarely FELT like practicing at 6:30 in the morning...but it was a time that I was up and no one else would bother me. While we're here, let me say a bit about FEELING like practicing. I don't care if you feel like it or not...just do it. Practice is work. Monotonous work. Yes, sometimes it's a blast...and alot of times it's not. You don't need to be inspired to practice. It's a decision. I planned a practice session and I'm going to attend said practice session and work through my practice outline for that day. The payoff is that when you get on the gig, things will flow smoothly and effortlessly...and this is the time to really enjoy your playing. I love my practice times too...but I'd be lying if I said I enjoyed the process of banging my head against the wall, constantly pushing myself to play things I'm not able I said, alot of times it's just plain work.

I think the biggest question is "Do you love playing this instrument?" Anything worth loving is worth working for...and working hard.

Planning and attending a purposeful practice time consistently is the only way to improve on any kind of measurable level.


Dale Botha said...

Hey Stephen

Just found this article. I like it...I'm terrible at planned anything...I've learned to hard way...but I'm definitely going to put together a praftice schedule. Even if it's just to get to a lesson with my teacher. I may extend it to a specific time and duration..later :)

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