Practice 101: Scrapping it All.

A few weeks ago I penned the article I intended to post today. This morning, however, I scrapped it all.  I didn’t like it. It didn’t feel right.  It didn’t fit me; it didn’t fit my style.

Sometimes, music is like this.  No matter how much I would like a student to learn a particular piece, or you want her to learn that special song, for some reason, it just doesn’t fit.  It’s like putting the left shoe on your right foot. Possibly, the notes or rhythm aren't coming together. But, more often, the student isn’t connecting with the story of the piece or in general, she isn't connecting with the the feel of the piece.  The genre doesn't fit her at this juncture of her life.

Each piece that your student plays tells a story. Sometimes it’s a very short story; perhaps the song even tells a 'music theory' story that your student needs to learn.  

Maybe, she can't figure out what story the piece is trying to tell.  It's conceivable that she really just 'doesn't care.'  She simply wants to move through this song, to get to the next song, in order to complete the lesson book as quickly as possible.

Our lives are kind of like that. Each of our lives tell a story. Your child’s life is telling a story; and, her story is not yet written. Her music education is just part of her story. In practicing, her story is unfolding.  She’s developing discipline to practice daily, even when she’d rather be doing other things; she’s gathering gumption to stick to a task, even when it’s not easy; she’s learning poise, perseverance, the pleasure of a job completed, and well done.

There are so many lessons that your child is learning that go well beyond notes and rhythms. Maybe she’s learning to notice that one “white-hot” emotional phrase in the piece.  Maybe she’s learning to keep her mind focused even when she’s playing the same eight beats for thirty minutes.

So, back to that piece that isn’t coming together. Does she scrap it, or does she keep plugging away? Like life, the answer is: “It depends.” Many times, in the music, there is a lesson, a concept that needs to be learned. If we skip over that lesson, rest assured, it will pop up later and “bite us in the behind”. Other times, however, in the “big picture of life/music lessons,” the lessons learned in that particular piece are negligible.

When I was a Kansas farm-girl, my mom would say, “Stick that in your craw.” At this moment, I think this idiom is apropos.

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