Practice makes you feel better…hopefully…you’ll at least be away from facebook for a while…
The best thing that I have learned since January of last year is how to practice. I was meeting with my friend Will Honaker, over xmas break, who is attending McNally Smith in Minneapolis, MN. We were talking about practicing and how to become more efficient when working on multiple areas of our instruments. He told me how he was setting a timer for himself so he didn’t spend too much time on one thing. He said twenty minutes to a half hour on one piece and then he would move on, it didn’t matter how into it he was. I thought I would try that-I didn’t tell him until he came back for spring break that his method, where ever he learned it, had revolutionized my focus, efficiency and practice routine completely. In the bigger scheme of things, this new technique was part of a culmination of things actually: I had an English professor last spring that was explaining how we, as students need to shut off our phones and facebook so that we can achieve a deeper level of consciousness or to gain deeper thought and concentration.I put the two together and found the best method of practice for me was to shut it all off! I don’t even put the bow down or change processes until that twenty minute timer goes off. Twenty minutes is just the right amount of time to be away from the world with out missing a last minute dinner request, snack attack, getting a drink (which can be an amazing motivator), or even wait to go to the bathroom–or heaven forbid, check email, texts, instagram, tweets and/or facebook. You will find that three times through the twenty minutes and you are ready to do two or three more rounds! That means you have gotten a solid hour in and didn’t get distracted hopefully. You will reach that deep level of focus and concentration that as a player, you need to get so you can get into deeper levels of practicing; your discipline will increase and so will your chops. Try it out, see if it works for you. Turn it all off and get to gettin’! I think you will be surprised at how many practice hours you gain. Best to ya!
P.S. As a side note I now realize that this was me practicing how to practice. I was learning how to accomplish the task of practicing multiple styles, technical studies, and facets of my playing in a way that I had never had to focus on in this way before. As I continued on this path, practicing became easier and easier and I really started to enjoy it, practicing became addicting, meditative, and cathartic. I owe it all to learning how to practice. I hope this helps you in any way and I have to thank Will again! With my ever increasing stack of things to practice I think I will have to go back to this method in order to not let one area of my playing suffer while I practice the things I enjoy a little more than the things I need to be practicing (like recital rep…).