My Father recently passed away because he courageously decided to put an end to his battle with cancer. Before he left us, he gave me some great advice: “Roxanne, don’t be afraid, it’s a waste of time.”
I have learned everything that is important about music from my Dad. He just happened to be one of these extremely disciplined people who practiced regularly (Daddy playing the same section of some piece of music he was working on, occasionally driving everyone else insane in the house, but it was always worth it when he finally performed).
He was always interested in the musician’s expression of a piece, and how it made him feel. Most important thing was the interpretation of the piece of music. That is why he would practice as he wanted to make sure that he felt completely comfortable so that when the time came for the solo, he would not slip up because he was not sure about the form or the notes or the timing. Everyone practices the way that works for them, but practicing from a place of fear is disastrous.
When practicing I have to see it as a pleasant activity. If I allow myself to think that I am practicing to make an impression, to make sure I do everything right, driving myself or pushing myself to make sure that I NEVER make a mistake, this puts pressure on me that ultimately will interfere with my energy to practice. If all that is wrong with me and my practice time is all I am thinking about, this will affect the outcome of my practice time and ultimately my performance.
My goal is always to progressively get better than myself and not anyone else. Why? Because I am not competing with anyone else and there is only one Roxanne Goodman. I am developing so I can progressively get better.
My Father knew that as musicians we have a lot of stress to deal with (even if most of that stress is self-inflicted) and we must focus on what is important; practicing so we can progress and finally feel extremely comfortable to express and interpret the music we are performing. For my Father, this was the most important element of practicing and that is why he had no issue doing it.
So, to those of you who call yourselves procrastinators (one of the most common symptoms of procrastination is fear of a negative or unknown outcome), try to remember that this is not a competition, that you are practicing so that you can easily express YOUR interpretation of the music you are working on and please enjoy the process.
I will leave you with a funny little true story:
A double bass player and his wife moved to a new neighborhood in Toronto and wanted to get to know their neighbors. The double bass player’s wife went next door to give two complimentary tickets to the neighbor for her husband’s upcoming show. The neighbor asked the wife if her husband is any good as all he could hear was the mistakes being made during his practice time! The wife assured the neighbor that it would be worth his while to come out to the show. The neighbor was awe and star-struck by the talent and skill that was demonstrated in the performance. The double bass player told the neighbor that if he only played what he felt comfortable with, he would never get better, so during his practice time he played things that challenged him which ultimately developed his skill and effortless expression.
Please don’t give up on yourself, just keep on practicing and you will progressively get better! And remember, “don’t be afraid, it’s a waste of time.”
The Confidence Booster