Doc Severinsen , age 89, blowin' the house down with the Guardians Big Band on "I Want to be Happy."
We signed up with the best intentions. Now we sit guilty and discouraged. Getting inspired to practice is difficult. What to do?
Before you throw in the sheet music, so to speak, try this.
Put on your walking shoes and go for a long walk. Long enough to perspire. This will get the "happy" hormones firing on all cylinders. Happy hormones will inspire you to sit down and tackle the music. Try it, it really works.
Proof? Google "Happy Hormones" For a longer read click on this.
This blog is full of posts on how to practice. It dawned on me today that the phrase: Connecting the heart with the eyes, ears, hands, and intellect sums it all up.
Eyes: Traditionally this has been the main focus of piano pedagogy. Worked great if reading was your strength. Frustrating if not.
Ears: Many amateurs play by ear. Works great but, a real limitation for most. In my professional experience the ceiling of your potential is reached much too early. Too many amateurs play the same limited repertoire year after year.
Hands: The pit of mindless repetition. Musician as robot. Married with the eyes, it has bored countless students for centuries. The belief that if one just repeats the darn piece enough time you can master the work and express it's beauty is a self-limiting paradigm that needs to be put to rest.
Intellect: Rarely do music students ever consider the role of the of the intellect. Specifically, knowledge of the structure and history of the music they are playing. Knowledge of how the body makes music. Knowledge of how to connect the eyes, ears, and hands into well-polished and creative process.
Recently in Rome Italy I spent a week at the Rome Summer Jazz Workshop. They believed the first step to playing Jazz was imitation. They had this down pat. It was nothing like I experienced in all my education to date. It was intense, it was fun, it was effective, it was inspiring. I've taken those ideas and put them together in a form practical for piano students to do at home. We've been at it for a few weeks now, everyone is very happy.
The practice process goes something like this.
Music is an aural art. Why not change the way we practice to take advantage of new effective methods and technologies?
More on this in the next post.
You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.
I'm a professional pianist and music educator in West Toronto Ontario. I'm also a devoted percussionist and drum teacher.