Have A Life Away From The Drums

How often have you heard some musician, especially a college music major, brag about all the time they spend practicing: “I usually practice 6-8 hours a day. I get up, have some coffee, then jump right on the marimba/drum set/timpani/etc.” Even professional musicians with established careers will talk about the hours of practice they still put in. 

I'm all for practice and improving my skills, but there's a limit to how much time practicing can actually be productive. One problem that being in a practice studio so much causes is, isolation. You become that person who is rarely seen, the hermit musician. But it also goes the other way, in that you rarely see anyone else. And seeing your barista or the pizza guy everyday does not really count as human contact.

Your practice room can become a prison cell if you let it.

Another thing is that you miss the world around you, all the things happening right outside your studio door. Isolation may help you to focus, but it's a very myopic focus. And if we are always cloistered away, we can't bring anything new or fresh into what we are doing.

Seeing the outside world, and other people, helps with our creativity and perspective. We can come back to our work with a clear head and perhaps hear things differently. Maybe you'll notice that something you thought was perfect really isn't, but you got so used to hearing one way that it became a false perfection to your ears.

Tips for making your practice/rehearsal more effective:

  • Go outside often
  • Breathe in some fresh air
  • Go for a walk and experience the world around you.
  • Go get some food at a restaurant, not just the same sandwiches you bring everyday.
  • When you get coffee or tea, stay at the coffee shop and relax, taking in the whole experience instead of getting it, to go.
  • Switch up your practice routine: if you always practice in the morning, practice in the afternoon or evening a few days a week (if possible).
  • Make sure to go to concerts and recitals in order to experience other musicians. This can both inspire you, and help you get a fresh perspective on what you do.
When you get out in the world, you broaden your horizons.

~ MB

Deconstruct Yourself™


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