Day 29, Karate Kid

Time wise today was a day of rest.  Funny though, I still practiced about an hour and a half.  I guess everything is getting bumped up here.  Originally my goal was four hours but I find myself playing for a total of 5-7 hours each day, so I guess it only makes sense that my new day off is 1.5 hours.  It felt like a day off, playing that little.

With my mind made up at the beginning of the day that it was OK to rest today, I felt somehow much freer to practice and have fun with it.  Since my goal was to just be relaxed all day, my practicing was relaxed.  Instead of feeling like I had a laundry list of things to practice (as most days are, just out of practicality) I was able to use the time today to practice only what fascinated me.  Today this was my ongoing project of “reinventing the wheel” with tone production.  I’m making many changes up here, physical and conceptual, and so far they’ve all been taking me in a great direction. I want to see how far I can take it, and how soon I can make this habit.  I ended up really enjoying myself in practice today.  Of course I always like playing.  I didn’t enter the field of music for job stability or to make piles of money! (though I wouldn’t turn it down :)  It got me thinking: why are some practice sessions merely okay and others totally, completely, unabashedly fun?

The big difference for me between a practice session that is great and one that drags is the speed at which (and the creativity with which) I’m able to troubleshoot.  Beating my head against the wall over that one stupid passage?  Not fun.  Finding a clever and reliable solution to a tricky problem?  Loving it.  Because then I get to move on to other things and as a result I’ve covered more material in less time.  Productive practice sessions make me feel great.

Soooo how do I troubleshoot more quickly?  Today’s idea came from a yearly masterclass with Burt Hara who always finds an excuse to tell his Karate Kid story.

There’s this scene in Karate Kid where Danielson sees Mr. Miyagi’s bonsai tree and wants to have a go at trimming it.  Mr. Miyagi stops him before he haphazardly starts cutting this tree and tells him that before he makes a single cut, he must visualize the perfect bonsai tree.  Then he could start cutting.

This is a terrific anecdote as it relates to music.  How can you troubleshoot if you don’t have your final goal in mind?  Sure little disparate issues can be “cured” but without a reference image for what you want the final product to sound like, what’s the point?

Today’s short amount of practice was spent comparing what I’ve got to the blueprint in my mind of what I want.  And with that I was able to work faster, more holistically, and not need to sweat the small stuff.  Again, yesterday’s slogan of “if you can hear it, you can have it” served me well.

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