Benjamin Coy

Trombonist

Recommitting

June 3, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Tapering before a performance or audition gives you a bit more discretionary time. You get used to being able to see your family in the evenings or accomplish something lucrative during the day. A normal day’s schedule does not include an obsessive focus on the practice room, and other interests and priorities creep in. After the event, it’s very tempting to take it easy for awhile. You tell yourself “Well, I earned a little time” or “It’s not like anything crucial is coming up, I can recover later.” Later never comes, though. You just made so much progress in your playing that just after the event is the best time to solidify that new achievement as your basic playing level so that you can continue to build from there. You don’t want to have to go back to square one next time you have something important, do you?

So fine, take a day or two at the most. But then, before you lose the strength, endurance and finesse you just developed, get back into it. This will probably require a new goal, since that will provide a direction and structure for your practice. For me, after this audition, I scheduled a recording session. I’ve been meaning to make a good recording for awhile, and I since I need a project, now seems like an appropriate time. I now have repertoire I have to prepare, a deadline by which I must prepare it, and that comes with all the associated technical and musical challenges for me to face in the practice room.

Even though there’s less external pressure, go through the same process. Make yourself a training schedule, or you’ll always find a reason to let a session slide. Keep yourself accountable – reward yourself for meeting your goals. If you accomplish all your practice sessions for a week, maybe you get your favorite ice cream or something. And, balance the carrot with the stick – make sure you keep recording your practice sessions and listening back. If you quality starts to decline, you will hear it and cringe, and that’s the strongest motivation I know.

And most of all, keep playing for and with other people. Unless you play the piano or something like that, playing alone is not fun or inspiring. Real music making is usually a collaborative project. You didn’t get into this business because you have a strong passion for scale patterns. You do this because you love making music. So make music, and that, if nothing else, will point you in the right direction.

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