May 082014
 

Practice or play? If you are a musician, you will need to make a decision sooner or later. Well, at least some kind of decision. Yep, because naturally, musicians fall into two groups. One of these groups is where the so called natural players are. They soak up music easily, like a sponge. They also seem to naturally ooze it throughout their lives. As you will see, it’s not always as idyllic as it sounds like. The second one is the group of the hard workers. They are more like athletes, with their endless training. They are involved in a constant, disciplined and rather scientific research of perfecting their musical knowledge. Fine, but which way should you go? Practice or play?

Practice or play – a musician’s dilemma

Hehe, you thought I was going to give it away this early? Well, not yet, my friend. So what does the natural do, um, naturally? Does he practice or play more? As you have guessed, he learns a couple of things on his own, pretty early on. And then he plays those things. Over and over. Can you see the problem yet? Yup. There’s not much progression that way. If there is any at all.

Practice or play – a musician’s dilemma

And the hard worker? He attacks the problems with theory and science. He practices his ass off very systematically. With pulling out methods to eliminate all kinds of different problems. Problems that are not related to the music he wanted to play. Oops. That’s practice for its own sake, and there’s no music coming out at the other end. Ever.

Practice or play – a musician’s dilemma

practice or playDo you know which one you should go for yet? Exactly. You should do both, and get a balance at it. Practice and play both should come into… um, play. But with a couple of guidelines. You should only ever practice stuff you want to play. Or things that are related to what you want to achieve on your instrument. So if you are a copycat musician who loves to do covers, you need to systematically build up a repertoire of covers. If you are a composer who wants to play his/her own music, you need to find ways to be able to play what you hear in your head. And get better and better at it. For the natural ones, it means, they need to force themselves to analyze the technical barriers and get over them with practice. Instead of changing their own tunes so they can play it the way they can already play. And the hard workers need to secure some time for some free, joyous play, with total abandon. Man, that’ll be hard.

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