This has been a recurring theme at PIFR this year. Practice, practice, practice is the mantra of any student musician. Indeed, preparation is necessary for any performance (and for living, for that matter). But there is more to this preparation than simply practice room punishment. It is a far more refined, absorbing and all encompassing journey than we often allow it to be.
Starting with the mundane:
Ritual is something I have often avoided. I resist the idea because it can be pointless, mindless, or restricting. But there is a place for routine that I have never embraced, and limits my potential on a daily basis. It can create structure, familiarity, help hold on to personal identity, and allow for new possibilities.
I am therefore keen to find some small daily rituals that work for me over the next few weeks.
An organised technique (or practice structure):
Far more related to flute playing, I WILL be changing my approach to the structure of my practice. This is not so much a change in mindset, but a change in my thinking about how I grow my playing. After listening to Lorna share her approach to technique, I have been struck by how clear, simple and delineated it is. It does not allow room for confusion, doubt, or insecurity in the physicality of producing sound. To reduce flute playing to breathing, air and co-ordination means so much guess work is taken out of the process.
I am therefore going to unashamedly borrow ALL of her practice and technique approach which she has so generously and whole heartedly shared with us. Of course this may change over time as my needs and focus shifts, but it is a wholly good place to start.
I have also realised how much I have fallen into the trap of end-gaining. Something in Alexander Technique is that once a good result has been achieved, the next step is never to repeat the result. It is to repeat the process. This goes against so many little tendencies in practicing. The temptation to ‘check that note works’ for affirmation and security, the mindless repetition of notes to rote learn passages (muscle memory is developed at least as well in repeating processes rather than results), and broad retrials of failing passages in the hope that they will one day improve. Practice has become worry about the result, rather than focus on the process.
So lets get back to a healthy, calm and diligent process each day that nurtures rather than demands from life and musicianship.