As a musician, I think practice is often the most challenging part of our lives.
It’s easy to focus on the stress and excitement of performance and how this can become a musician’s biggest ogre. But, for many there is just as much emotional baggage attached to practice each day.
I’m not really talking about how practice can seem boring or unappealing, though this may be a symptom of the challenges faced in the practice room.
My point is that the desire to practice well does not always match the reality. There are time constrains. Other people’s lives. Mundane interruptions. The practicalities of finding a practice space. How we feel varies from day to day. Tiredness, stress, emotions and mental fatigue all influence a practice session. And in trying to do the “right thing” and battle on, the health of our practice time can sometimes suffer.
In a way, practice is reflective of the struggle to live life well.
For me, I have had to learn a practice room etiquette. This has been a commitment to be kind to myself, to avoid the unproductivity of “self-flagellation”, and always aim for the best quality of practice that I can manage each day.
To remind me of these healthy practice habits I have created my own “Practice Manifesto”, which is occasionally refined, but has remained essentially the same for the last few years. At times it has threatened to become the most neglected document in the history of the world. But, at other times it has pulled me back to solid, honouring, skilful, joyful practice habits.
It has been such I useful way of thinking that I thought I would share it. These are my own very personal practice intentions – each individual will have different ideas and not all my choices will be relevant for all. It may, however, get you thinking about how you think about practice.