Day 63, Breaking a Plateau

Practice: 2.5, Concert: 3 hours.

It just hit me today that I have only one week left in Aspen. It also occurred to me today that in the past two weeks my progress has been waning or even plateauing. I haven’t been reaching the amount or quality of practice that I was in the first few weeks here and have noticed the difference when I listen to recordings of my lessons. I’m less than satisfied with my sound nowadays and the quality of some of my excerpts is not at the level that I want them, especially a few days before the mock audition. I don’t regret a single minute I’ve spent practicing ensemble music, but I’ve kind of let it take over my life. Instead of planning my day ahead of time I’ve been practicing or not practicing based on mood, hunger, tiredness, and just generally doing whatever I “felt like” rather than an amount of work that I know I would be satisfied with.

Again and again I mention that you can’t really quantify progress, but I think I personally have a “minimum” I need for maintenance and another greater minimum amount of practice required for growth. I’ve only been meeting the first amount for the past two weeks. This also brings into focus the fact that no matter how much I’m rehearsing, that time doesn’t function the way practice does. Unfortunately for me this means that my algorithm for “half of a rehearsal would count as practice” is kind of worthless.

In the spirit of carpe diem and wanting to make the very most of my last week here in this wonderful place, I’ve mapped out every single day until the festival finishes in terms of when and how much I’ll practice. If I can follow the schedule (and it involves starting at 8am on most days) then I’ll get my four hours in, ON TOP of rehearsing for 4 hours in the afternoon and performing West Side Story by night (about a 2.5 hours commitment). To help keep track of what I’m practicing and when, I’ve also made a table of all the excerpts with a column for each day of the week. Doesn’t get much nerdier than this. For nerdier anecdotes, please comment.

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