A couple of definitions of practice are:
1. "perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one's proficiency."
2. "the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method, as opposed to theories relating to it."
In the last 5 years I have realized how significant practicing is for my continued growth as a musician, and really, as a human being. Devoted practice of an instrument (or singing) has been a primary part of my daily life for many years now - truly beginning in college which was 2003-07 - and was immediately followed by grad school. So, it's been a good run of time. There's a lot of things to say about practice - way too many to address in this early morning rant. So for the sake of this particular blog entry I'd like to just focus on two primary aspects of practice - or two primary principles - that I must adopt interiorly as a part of my personal value system if I hope to have any true and lasting progress and development (at least as my experience has shown.) Those principles are: discipline and love. (I'm thinking of love as: devoted attention, proper placement of "weight" and "focus" in my life, and selfless motive/action) I've loved music ever since I heard it - and I've loved playing the guitar, piano, singing, writing music, etc - ever since I started playing over 20 years ago. But that passion means nothing if it's not cultivated by discipline. The flip side rings true as well - I can have all the focused discipline in world, but if it's not supported by love then it's just a mechanical exercise for the ego. I think one of the most important aspects of the love perspective is selfless motive - creating the affirmation that I'm practicing my instrument and craft to bring "something" to others. (That "something" will be different for everyone, but a performing musician who has clearly spent years on becoming a channel for creativity can have an deep impact on people - especially in a live setting.) It's important to notice the results - the fruits - of practice. Namely, more significant freedom in playing live. Or in the studio, or teaching, or in whatever setting you demonstrate your craft. Another word on the love aspect - what I've noticed is we demonstrate our love for the people in our lives through action. Sure, it's accompanied, and maybe even fueled by very strong feeling, but my feeling of love for my parents, spouse, friends, etc is demonstrated through how I behave and interact with them. By listening, being considerate, offering levity and humor, cooking, taking out the garbage, cleaning the house - all the life stuff done with attention and thoughtfulness - even (maybe most especially) when I don't feel like it. This leads to spending TIME on the thing you love. Spending time and showing up no matter what. Devotion. Devotion is one of the many results of applying discipline and love. In most recent years I've started to treat my practice time with as much discipline as I can muster - because I want to push myself - I want to fight for becoming the absolute best musician I can be - because it has been in most recent years that I truly have seen this is what I'm supposed to do. I've tried other things, explored other options, looked down other streets, but I am continually left with my primary passion as also being my livelihood. So, I owe it to my family and the Universe, Spirit, God - Whoever - to get up early every morning and get to work. And that IS where discipline starts = set the alarm for 5 or 5:30 am, get up, and get to work on my guitar. And push through to 2,3,4 or more hours of practice a day - 5 to 6 days a week. My gigging life has slowed down and I am fine with that because I want to hit the pavement with new ideas, fresh love and a clearer channel to give music to others. I know new songs, grooves, EP's, albums, are around the bend - just have to trudge the path daily and let the inspiration flow through practicing - whether I want to or not - get up every day and get to work. At the end of the day it all leads to = joy. THAT is worth it and my hope is that energy will move others somehow, someway, to their own joy.
Please leave comments on any of your thoughts, or if you would like to me to elaborate on any topics, etc. Thanks for reading! Cheers
I've got ALOT of thoughts on music, performance, teaching, and living life. Broadcasting my more personal thoughts on social media platforms has never resonated for me, so I figured it's time to start a blog - this feels like a place I'll be able to open up and share the many experiences I've had that shape my relationship with music and the people in my life. I hope to keep my writing as unfiltered and unedited as possible so as to keep it authentic.
The last couple of weeks I've especially been reflecting on what my impact is - what am I putting into life and how it affects my sphere of influence. This has been an essential part of my daily mindset for many years now, but lately it has become more apparent - I have (we all have) a unique opportunity to impact others - whether it be "positive" or "negative". I prefer not to think it terms of absolutes - "all or nothing" thinking - but when I scan over my daily habits of thought feeling and behavior it is abundantly apparent that there is either a negative or positive charge I put out into the universe. Like throwing a rock in a pond where the ripples move outward in all directions - inevitably I continue to find whatever I put out into the world I receive back - and so much of this begins with my thought life. I think we can all agree the qualities of love, kindness, and courtesy (among many other synonmous qualities) are "positive." The qualities of hate, violence, rudeness, impatience, self-pity (among many other lovely things) are commonly held as "negative." It's of course easy to recognize these manifestations in others - in society, on the news (which I try to avoid), and our closest relatives/friends. The treasure hunt for peace of mind begins with finding the darkness in me and setting out to eradicate it with the powerful qualities of love, kindness, generosity, honesty, etc. I have found the seeds of negativity begins in my thoughts and therefore the seeds of love and peace begins in my thoughts.
Ok - wow - didn't know all that was going to come out right away but there it is! And, I don't know if anyone is going to read ANY of that - but who knows, maybe someone will come across this and it might be helpful. My reason for starting this blog is ultimately to try and pass on the priceless lessons I've learned from others who have selflessly shared their life lessons with with me. SO, hopefully this may bring some light and hope to anyone who may stumble across this page.
I think I will end up writing mostly about music, but all this stuff I went into today will certainly be woven throughout. After all, the practice, performance, teaching - all of it - is only going to be as positive as I make it. As a result I believe I have a shot at getting out of my own way and letting the art move through me to touch others. At the end of the day, I don't want this ("this" being my music and career and even this blog post) to be about Adam - building up my "image" or marketability or any of that shit - I just want to make real music from raw life stuff and put it out there for someone to hear. However that continues to work out we shall see - but I couldn't be more grateful to be doing this music thing full time day in and day out. It's been an insane amount of work for this to be my reality as a musician - looking forward to sharing what that work looks like and how it might help you reach your goals. Cheers till next time - and if you read all of this thank you for sharing some time together and please leave a comment below!