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