August 3, 2016

Make yourself practice - do some good

If I were to be honest out loud, there are more days when I have to force myself to practice than I care to admit.  There are always so many other things that need to be taken care of and which require my attention.  And often sitting and playing feels too decadent to be work - making it even more difficult to practice and do the work.  I know many of us have this same challenge.  (And we know this is different from the occasional, “I just don’t feel like practicing! ” malaise we sometimes find ourselves in!)

I recently came across a quote that is modifying my perspective on all this.  This is an excerpt – it was part of a talk delivered by Karl Paulnack, Music Director of The Boston Conservatory*.  I thought he made a good point – about taking ourselves seriously.  He said - 

"If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you'd take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at two AM someone is going to waltz into your emergency room and you're going to have to save their life. Well, my friends, someday at 8 PM someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft."

And he's right!  There is little more rewarding than chatting with an audience member after a performance and learning that you have created an experience that touched that person very personally and specifically.  

He goes on to say more, about our value as musicians, the effect we can have, the good we can do.  All of these are important – and we need to remind ourselves of these truths. No matter our level of play or our amount of experience, we have something to contribute, a good to give – and we have to work to bring our best when we are sharing. 

So, go practice – the world is counting on us to do our craft.

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