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Food for thoughtMusicmusicianpractice

The Guilt Of Not Practicing

By September 12, 2019 October 2nd, 2019 No Comments

Have you ever asked yourself what the main reason for practising is? Why do you have to sit down every day with your instrument and exercise for hours? Why do you have to spend so much time trying to come up with new music?

The main reason is that we all want to get better. We all want to improve and since there is always room for improvement (even if you’re a master), we might as well practice. This force is literally what makes us find those 2/3 hours a day to refine our craft. This is the same kind of force that tells us “You’re getting better at this, please come back tomorrow and the day after”. It might sound weird, but the more you practice, the more this compulsion to go and spend time practicing actually grows.

Every single day you see improvements, even if very little, you know that you are getting better. This energy grows within you and you might start to feel a sense of devotion to it. You might feel that is your duty to practice every day. Ultimately you love music don’t you? Then, why are you skipping one or two days of practice?

This sense of guilt and misconduct lives within all musicians. We all want to be diligent with our careers and binge watching TV or going out partying when we’re supposed to practice doesn’t make us feel bad. It makes us feel HORRIBLE!

One of the hardest things is to deal with this awful feeling. And luckily there are ways to do that:

#Swimmers do it better#

When you look at videos of Michael Phelps swimming freestyle it’s quite impressive to see how much time he spends with his head underwater. When he jumps in the water his head stays down, then only after 15/20 meters he pops his head up, picks up a puff of oxygen and down again.

You might not see any analogy with what Michael Phelps does and musicians practicing. But if you imagine that every time you practice equals the time you spend underwater, all could start to make sense. In fact, when you’re spending that 1 day off practice you are actually taking time to “pick up oxygen” before you re-immerse yourself “under practice” (or underwater). I believe it’s actually healthy to take some time off the instrument. It’s important to re evaluate your path and that what you’re practicing is taking you to where you want to go.

#Enjoy your days off#

Set yourself up for days when you know already that you won’t be picking up the instrument. For example, before the month starts pencil in your calendar a day or 2 a week when you won’t be practicing. Fill those days with something fun. Something that you enjoy so much that you will be looking forward to it. Going for a walk in the countryside, a trip to the beach, a cooking class. It could be anything, as long as it is something that can enrich your days off music and ultimately can enrich your life.

#Avoid the competition#

Last but not least, on your days off practice do NOT spend time with people who will make you feel bad about you not practicing your instrument. On internet I see this meme a lot, showing a guy sleeping and underneath an image of someone playing drums, with the caption saying “When you sleep someone else is getting better than you”. That is the most toxic trap that a musician could fall into. Music is not a competition and as Tower Of Power drummer David Garibaldi said once “Music is a long life project”. You don’t win anything by practicing more. Therefore don’t get tricked into this kind of petty competition. Avoid them at all costs.

Hope these 3 pieces of advice can help you if you’re feeling guilty about your days of non-practice. We all feel bad at times and there’s nothing wrong with it. If you have any comments please feel free to comment and subscribe.

‘till next time!

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Chris Castellitto

Author Chris Castellitto

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