Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Most Important Aspect of Practice

When it comes to singing– and most disciplines in life– practice is essential.  It is the skill that helps us to improve technically, develop discipline, and master our chosen fields of interest.

Yet far too often the relationship between people and their instruments– whether the voice, the piano, a football or an area of study– is neglected. This a tremendous shame as fostering that relationship is the most critical aspect of practice in my experience.  Far more important than the "what, when, and how" is the why.  When we are able to develop a love of our craft that compels us to seek out and engage in the best forms of developing our instruments, the details of practice fall into place. 

I sat down today wanting to write about this important topic, only to realize that my friend Robert Hidalgo, a terrific piano teacher in Manhattan, had already done a brilliant job himself in an email to me years ago.  I hope you are inspired by his words and wisdom as much as I still am.

As a teacher one of my most dreaded questions that I get from parents is: how much time should my child practice? As if devoting 30 minutes daily at the piano is really going to foster the love of music that I'd like for my students to acquire. More often than not, those dreaded 30 minutes of practice are the reason why many children enthusiastically quit music at the first opportunity.  

On the other hand, how can one achieve the right relationship with a musical instrument if not by nurturing it constantly? How can you take ownership of something that you don't possess? Maybe the crux of the matter resides in the type of relationship one has with music in general. Many people pursue the study of music for the wrong reasons– some are forced to do it, some seek notoriety or popularity, others simply want to emulate someone else; but few possess the humility and courage to transcend those immediate and superfluous motivations to get a glimpse of art in its pure form, and recognize the value of devoted practice to achieve some kind of excellence in their craft. 

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