A popular topic of debate among musicians is the issue of practice. How much should a musician practice? How long? Should a musician practice in the morning, in the afternoon, or should practice be evenly distributed throughout the day? What should someone do if he misses a day of practice? How much should a musician warm up each day? Should practice routines be altered based on rehearsal schedules?
These questions might be relevant if practicing were like writing for this blog. I sit down and execute the routine of thinking, typing, and later clicking “Publish.” However, practice is full of idiosyncrasies. It is a very personal habit, and relevant questions do not include “how often” or “how long.” Instead, a musician must consider how he or she practices.
Practicing is like exercise. It requires a goal, a plan, a timer, and brutal honesty. It should be efficient, productive, and focused. The goal of practice is measurable progress. It is a very scientific process. A musician must recognize a problem, devise a plan, find creative ways to solve the problem, and objectively measure results.
Playing for hours and hours without focus is counterproductive. This might lead a musician to unknowingly reinforce bad habits. Problems may arise that might need additional work to solve. It is important to be honest with oneself and to consciously practice only that which needs work.
I do not intend to imply that experimentation and improvisation do not have their place within the musician’s daily life. However, I would argue that improvisation and experimentation with the intent of finding new sounds or new ideas is a different type of practice. It is a different type of creativity. Practicing is a problem-based creative process. When practicing, the musician must ultimately seek to make music.
I’m a Senior in high school. I’m getting ready to graduate. I’m ready to study music in college in the Fall. But May 1st is creeping up on me quickly, and I need to decide where I’m going to go to school.
I honestly can’t see myself doing anything else but music. When I was applying to colleges, however, the influence of others persuaded me to keep my options open. Not only did I apply for two instruments at some institutions (horn and jazz piano), I also applied for double degree programs with music and academic majors.
At this point, I still have these options. I’ve been accepted to various institutions for various instruments and various double (or triple) degree options. Last year, I thought to myself, “I’ll just apply for all these programs and see what happens.” I was putting off a decision. This time is different. In about two weeks, I have to decide.
I’ve been given much advice along this journey. I’ve been told to pick somewhere relatively affordable. Debt is bad. I get it. I’ve been told to pursue a second degree in addition to music. I’ve been told that it’s unwise to study music exclusively. I’ve also been told that it doesn’t matter too much at the undergraduate level. If I want to completely switch directions in my life, there’s always grad school.
My passion is music. I think I want to continue to study both horn and jazz piano. It’s weird. It’s different. I have yet to think of a job suited for a French horn player/jazz pianist. That doesn’t mean I can’t make one.
To conclude my rant: I believe that wherever I decide to go to school, I’ll get out of my education only what I put in. Opportunities will come only if I seek them out. I must constantly remind myself to push forward. This world is too big and too competitive to not take an active role in one’s education, musical development, and career.
This is the result of 14 bars of music, a Korg Monotron Duo, some guitar pedals, and some virtual instruments. It’s hardly a cohesive work, but it might be interesting nevertheless.
Consider this a loose representation of my current state of mind. I’m in the process of deciding where to go to college next year, and it’s not an easy decision to make.
(Source: christopherfrick.com / Christopher Frick)
This is a tune I wrote a little while ago recorded live in my home studio. After looping the drums, I played the synth bass and Rhodes simultaneously.
Download “Baking Pollution” for free here: http://music.christopherfrick.com/track/baking-pollution
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