Now the crux of it all, the part where we get our hands dirty. After a long arduous search for the perfect practice space and the tediousness of preparation is in the past we can begin to dig into the music, the sirens’ call to which none can save their triremes from the foreboding rocks along the shoreline. However! Keep one eye on the clock. How the time is spent is every bit as important as the content with which you practice. Spending too much time on any particular aspect of the routine can cause one to lose sight and will inevitably snuff out the flame of determination. Time used wisely will heighten the level of productivity. Let’s take fifteen minutes and apply it to warm up with a recess for recovery and relaxation. Perhaps another quarter hour upon a piece that needs a firm hand buffing the tarnish.
We need not always start from the genesis of a piece but can hone in on any specific section thus providing precision to your mind and mindfulness to your time. This is, in fact, an exercise so don’t hesitate to kick the spurs and drive that stallion with persistence but be wary of the time gone by and take a step back when you feel exhaustion or pain coming on. We don’t want ourselves hurt. Within these time restraints remember that it is the repetition of activity that strengthens the pathways of the neurons and allows for a super highway of information leading to peak performance in time. If in the midst of it all you do find yourself slowly filling with frustration over an aspect of performance or the piece itself, it is well to return to an old favorite singing with sweet memories of youth or set the heart free and improvise. Keep it enjoyable, and maybe, at the end there, treat yourself to a reward for such swell practice.
The progress does not halt when the instrument is returned home and the practice room door closes behind you. Musicians also practice what can be called visualization. In a sense this can just be running over the music in your mind and painting a new reality in which the only existence is the musician and the music. Visualization can keep the mind in shape even while the body lays dormant. Outside of extra practice is also the realm where we decide which habits are enforced and how we drive ourselves back into the bosom of improvement. A musicians mind is always flooded with music so keep it up!