Thoughts on Practicing

I was chatting with a student the other day about practicing.  

He’s struggling with a mental block- overwhelmed by all he feels he has to learn, coupled with a familiar perfectionism, he’s finding it difficult playing at all, much less making progress.  He’s paralyzed.  Do I ever come up against anything like this?

The answer is…yes.  More than I should probably admit.  But I’m human, we all are (unless a concerningly intelligent Bonobo’s reading this), and we give a shit about making good art.  We’re all trying our best.  I think it’s vital getting stuck in a rut from time to time.  Ruts, after all, are found on the path to somewhere.

I suggested he begin with positive association.  For example, I struggle getting up in the morning and would 1000% rather sleep til noon everyday.  So, I have a coffee maker next to my bed.  At 6:30am, the gurgling and sweet sweet glorious aroma of freshly brewing brain juice gently suggests maybe waking up might be in the cards.  I like coffee, and it’s right there, so I get up and enjoy a cup.  Since I’m up, I may as well, you know, start my day, or whatever it is normal people do.  I now genuinely look forward to the early AM.  

So, I said, try picking up the guitar while the morning coffee’s brewing.  Just pick it up, that’s all.  I’m anticipating that first shot of caffeine and, hey, I’m holding my guitar anyway, may as well move my fingers around.  Absentmindedly, no exercises, super low pressure.  Well, my fingers are moving, may as well play a song.  Shit, I played a song, lemme try running a scale.  You get the idea. 

Before you know it, maybe like 10 or 15 minutes have gone by.  Nice!  You’ve played guitar!  It was easy, and the coffee’s strong and tasty.  Put the guitar down.  Do it again tomorrow.  

Momentum, however humble, is exciting.  That 10 or 15mins of low-key strumming over morning coffee will, in no time at all, evolve into a focused 30 minute practice routine, which becomes an hour, etc.  And then tendonitis, so don’t go too crazy.

I’m thankful for:

-Bonobos and monkeys in general not being hyper intelligent

I’m just not ready for that bullshit.

-The fine folks at Pinewood Social turning the music down

People complain about Millennial’s attention spans.  Well, turn down the SPDS hipster song.  You try concentrating over that shit, Gramps.

-My friend Jarle Bernhoft being a funny dude

Check out his Instagram profile.  What a goddamn gem.  

January 5, ladies and gentlemen!