Musician. Educator. Explorer.
What if practicing more isn’t the answer? These questions came up last week during a great Q & A session with my Satellite Salon Artists Patrick and Rachel Roulet and I can’t stop thinking about them!
Twice a year I host my Satellite Salon Series, where I bring artists from various disciplines to Southern Utah University. Typically I don’t usually have percussionists for this events since we have our Percussion Festival in the Spring, but last week’s iteration of the series was a bit different since it featured percussion. Patrick and Rachel Roulet came and performed their “From Rags to Riches – the Golden Age of Xylophone” program, and it was a special treat to hear this rarely heard repertoire from the early 1900s!
As part of the Series I always host a Q & A session for our students, kind of similar to the “Inside the Actors Studio” TV show. I ask the guests various questions about their life and career, including what motivates and inspires them and what trends they see in other artists around them. One of the questions I asked was about how they get motivated and/or how they deal with motivation issues their lives. A great conversation ensued about how we practice and Patrick said something that has really helped him was to think:
What if you couldn’t practice longer?
What if practicing more isn’t the answer or is not an option?
As studio teachers we say this all the time – “you just need to practice more…you just need more practice time etc etc…” and many times this is EXACTLY the right prescription. I know when I talk to students about analyzing their schedule and time, many times we find that there are pockets of time throughout their day that they could make better use of. Kevin Bobo highlighted this when he visited last year by asking – “What are you doing for the 10 min before your lesson while you wait outside? Are you looking at your phone or are you warming up your licks? How about the 10 minutes before Wind Symphony starts? Or when you sit down in an academic class a few minutes before it begins? Are you using every bit of time to your advantage?” So yes, many times, it IS that you just need to practice more or practice longer. But, what about those times when you can’t or when that is not the problem? This is what I found myself thinking about this week.
What if practicing more wasn’t an option? What if there was no instrument, no practice room, no sticks or mallets, no way to practice more or longer….what could or what WOULD you do? Have you thought about it? Would you find another way to get better, get more educated, get more knowledge, find more solutions?