Hello. My name is Andrew and I play guitar. BUT>>>
I do a lot of other things. A LOT…of other things.
Being in my mid-twenties, I find that the amount of time, in a given day, to invest in music has not really diminished; however, it has altered drastically since the days of long hours spent in the practice rooms of Skinner Hall at Vassar College.
In order to find enough time to practice, considering you have a part or full time job, you have to feng shui your time around a bit. You should take a hard look at what is most important to you and what you can leave by the wayside, just so you can devote a little more time to music.
The things you discard, in order to find time to compose, practice, listen, etc, should really be the clutter of your life. So…you might ask…what is cluttering my life? The answer might be simple to some, and much more elusive to others. This question begins a series of far more personal and uncomfortable questions you will have to deal with in order to make progress as a musician.
I am not a fan of sacrifice. I believe whatever you give to a passion, whether time, or focus or financial investment, is not detrimental to you as a person. It is beneficial. What are we sacrificing for music? If you just take a minute to brainstorm the others things you would be doing if you were not a musician, I think you’ll surprise yourself…
Go ahead, brainstorm for 3 minutes, in a text document. I’ll wait…
OK…here are my other things I would be doing, if I didn’t do music:
1. Searching high and low for a meaning to my life (and most likely, coming up confused and empty feeling at the day’s end)
2. Watching way more television and wasting at least 25% of my day
3. Hanging with lame people
4. Maybe getting a job at some high tech company (seems to be the best outcome, but even that would lead to me being bored and unfulfilled after a few months)
5. Flat out broke!
Okay. So music is a necessary and critical part of my life, as I am sure it is for you. I really can’t stand it when people ask me where I went to college…I tell them Vassar, and they ask why the hell I’m a musician, I could be making butt loads of money working at a Fortune 500 company. Don’t get me wrong, I understand where these folks are coming from, it’s just that they have no clue where I am coming from. If they truly listened to my music, maybe they would get it.
Which brings me to my next point…
The collective attention span of society is frightening. Music has seized being a spiritual or even a semi-spiritual experience for people, at least, lots of people. This is due to the fact that music is everywhere, all the time. No matter where you turn, someone’s car, or the bar you’re in, or the super market, or the baseball game or the computer and TV ads that are drowning you in low quality music, both compositionally and sonically, all weigh down on your attention.
I have a habit of really listening hard to whatever music is playing around me, no matter the source and trying to pick apart as much as I can from it (ie. chord progressions, drum feel, orchestration, etc) It makes crappy music interesting to me. Some people I know just write “bad” music off as “bad” music. But let’s be serious, as Duke Ellington said, “There’s good music, and then there’s the other kind.” The other kind is not bad, it’s just not noteworthy.
Back to FENG SHUI>>>
The first thing I did in order to remove clutter from my life was actually add a new element of discipline to my life. I added exercise. I used to think that exercise was taking away from the time I could devote to practice, when really, it adds to your energy and disciplined nature. I now exercise everyday for at least 45 minutes and at most an hour and a half. This has given me the focus to regiment my time on the instrument and not spend too much time on any one thing.
Secondly, I have blocked practicing off into 15 minute segments. Something in this vain…15 minute warmup, 15 minute finger style practice, 15 minute free play, 15 minute speed exercises, etc. This has made my practicing much more focused and productive. I think this has a lot to do with Parkinson’s Law: work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Do not give yourself too much time to practice. It doesn’t pay to sit in your room with your instrument for 7 hours and get nothing done. Set your goals for the following day the night before. Just try it out and see if it helps. Uberefficiency can be reached if approached in the right way. Have very clear goals and then go enjoy your life. Give Parkinson’s Law a try and please leave a comment and let us know how it worked out for you.
So in closing my first post >>>
I would like this blog to be a warm place that anyone may enter, whether they are musicians, adventurers, or just music lovers.
This is a place for ideas. Let’s share ideas on how to be efficient and effective musicians.
Please comment 🙂