Refine What You Do

It's so easy to grow complacent, so easy to find that groove you can ride in with little effort and maximum effect. It's so easy to become comfortable in where you are, and thus lazy in your future efforts.

We often see this in our practicing, where we continually go over the same well worn material. Just get in that groove and ride it to infinity. I know. It happens to me. That's why we need to be aware of what we are doing at all times. We can't just be on autopilot. We have to make conscious choices.

If all you ever practice is what you know, and how you know it, that's all you'll ever know.

Be conscious and choose to move forward. I often practice some of my favorite music. One reason is because I like it and it gives me immense pleasure to play it. But another reason—and this is a conscious choice—is that I'm always looking to refine what I'm playing, not just playing it on autopilot. I'm also looking for something new that I can bring to it. This is especially true of something that I've played hundreds of times. I don't want to just play it by rote, becoming mechanical and predictable. There are pieces I've played so much that they are burnt into the synapses in my brain, like some sort of memory tattoo. But each time I play them, I'm trying to get deeper inside them. I'm trying to find the nuance, the subtleties, those small, intangible things that make a performance something more.

Sometimes it's a different emphasis on a note, subtle shifts in timing, or perhaps a different mallet choice to bring out unknown textures of sound. I see all music as some sort of living entity that can continually grow and change, and hopefully mature into something more. I try not to stand still and become complacent with anything. 

How do you refine what you do?

~ MB

Deconstruct Yourself™


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