Practice: Music, mind, & body
(3 min read) I subscribe to ‘The Daily Stillness’ which is a collaborative, maker-type, Daily Create / Connect type activity that is based here. Today’s short blurb hit me like walking out into a field after being in the woods. The message in a very few words:
Practice: Do it.
that was what I read via twitter on my phone early this morning, and then I looked at the actual email and saw it said more than that:
For me, this means a lot on many different levels. Let’s take the most literal first:
A little over a year ago, 5 students and I did an impossible journey where we raised lots of money and went to California to learn and teach- together and with others. It was a living, collaborative educational experience in the true sense of those words. We even had a poster designed for us and our theme/slogan was Don’t you quit!
We called ourselves Musiquality and it was all about bringing quality and connection through music. The experience was so epic that we decided to write about it, and make a book. That has been this summer’s project – to write the book, and I have been doing it with my student (recent graduate) co-authors.
2. Do it and don’t quit.
Writing a book is tough. Sometimes words pour out and other times, well, it has been two weeks and I haven’t written a thing. I see people use the #dailywords hashtag on twitter, like here —> . When I am writing these act as a positive influence, but when time passes without writing it is like a tug on the skirt by a small child to remind me that I haven’t done it yet. Today the ‘do it and don’t quit’ was not a negative annoyance, or a reminder of my own failing, but a reminder that I can – and I will. Watch for my own #dailywords report later today.
That brings me nicely to the third point:
What can I say about this? It just makes me smile. In a sentence – YES YOU CAN. I never cease to be surprised by what people can accomplish, and it doesn’t take Olympic greats to make me say this – although it is impossible to not be completely impressed by the refined dedication of those international athletes. Every day, every person can do something that has an impact and makes a difference and that allows them to grow. To live. I know I am optimistic, but I do genuinely believe that.
4. Every day.
Coming back to the Daily Stillness post, there was more – there was text. The suggestion was to read a short post by the author Kathleen Hirsch about practice (HERE). It is a fantastic post about finding stillness in mind as a daily practice – through religion, through breathing, through whatever- but every day. As a musician practice is part of daily life – and routine gets into your blood. I have woken others by shouting PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE! in my sleep. Really. (ok, it was my husband, and he forgave me) People say if you don’t practice for one day then you know it, if you don’t practice for two days your friends know it, and if you don’t practice for three days the whole world knows it. It is like eating or washing –
and then it hit me:
It is all connected.
Yesterday I had a physio appointment because I pulled a muscle very deep and it was causing me pain. The lovely physio gal and I were talking about being fit for purpose. I love to talk sport and fitness, and have had a blissful summer full of running and yoga (and typing and practising) and she loves to talk about people and how their bodies work. I was saying that as musicians, we often do not realise what strength and stamina we need to support the specific muscles we use in music making.
Anyone who has seen a string player hold the bow will know that the positioning looks relaxed but takes a whole host of different muscles to, say, holding a fork. The physio gal commented that it is about awareness. Knowing how we work, what needs supporting, what basic levels of activity and fitness we need to prevent injury all help as we spend hours practising musical instruments.
It is all connected.
I wrote about my concert last week in a series of posts, and the bits that I wanted to go better, happened when I was not still – when my mind was not still. It is something I don’t practice enough, quietening my mind.
Mind. Body. Music.
They all go together. Practising one without the other is like eating without drinking. Sleeping without waking. To me they suddenly seem that polar and connected.
Why is it then that it is so easy to push one aside? I will work hard and not take care of my body, or not eat well, or… the list could go on. These things are important and sometimes it takes a proverbial slap in the face – like my gimpy leg – to remind me just how important it is to take the time, to make the balance, to practice.