Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Is Practicing Becoming Tedious?

Recently, I have been talking to a former student who has found practicing tedious. The first thing you should know is, practicing is tedious, sometimes taking years to achieve our goals. Classical music is unique in the level of craft and artistry, not to mention the pressure of repeating that high level in real time...every time. This takes practice and there is no way around it.

However, there are ways to have fun and stay interested in practicing.

  1. Be around other musicians and friends. A very close friend of mine told me to go to the school with the best people, and that's what I did. At USC and at CCM we had a group of energetic young students that consistently played for and with each other. Having a discussion about where you are and where you want to go is the best way to get there.
  2. Listen to great music. This step is often over looked in music school, who has time to listen to a symphony when you have a lesson tomorrow. However, this is the only way to figure out what music is. If you can listen to live music, that's better. And take in a variety of genres.
  3. Be creative in your practice routine. Know what and why you work on things in your daily routine. This way you can change the content and still work on the same thing. Instead of playing Rochut, play actual songs. If you are working on articulations, play some jazz.
  4. Be creative with your “truth boxes.” Playing for a metronome, tuner, and recording device can drive anyone nuts. Instead of the metronome use a beat, design your own for specific piece, or use something you find on a keyboard. Change the style of beat to fit the music. You can also use a drone or play along with a recording. You will know if you are out of tune.

If you can't listen to live music check out these places for current performances.

There are lots of etude books that use a CD.  Play with them.

Last, but not least, make sure you are having fun away from the trombone.  Exercise, join the gym, play an organized game or convince your teacher to play Ultimate Frisbee with the studio.

In a masterclass today, I heard a teacher demand a student take a day off.