One Step Closer to Habit

“Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.”

-Martha Graham

Practice makes perfect. Or does it?  Or maybe perfect practice makes perfect?  Actually, practice makes something “one step closer to habit.”  Practice doesn’t have automatic quality control, so whatever is practiced and how it is practiced become easier to do again, whether the result is pleasing to the practitioner or not.

A typical practice session:

The student starts at the beginning of a piece of music. He plays at tempo, without the metronome until he makes a mistake, or at least a mistake that is substantial enough to bother him enough to stop. He then goes over the trouble spot a few times, and continues onward until the next time he decides that an error is bad enough to warrant stopping. By the time he gets to the end of the piece, he has done the stop-start thing several time.

What has this student practiced?  He has made starting at the beginning, trying to play, looking for mistakes big enough to stop, stopping and restarting all one step closer habit.

This week, look at how you practice, look at the things you are pushing one step closer to habit.

We practice at tempos that are faster than we should be using. Slow down.

We are impatient and have a subjective sense of time. Use a metronome.

We waste practice time by playing through pieces from start to finish. Be honest in identifying your trouble spots, and begin your practice by going directly to them.

We condition habits of struggle and frustration by practicing them. Be comfortable and practice for ease. SLOW DOWN AND PAY ATTENTION.

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