On Slow (Enough) Practice
Okay, I get it. Slow down.
In my experience, this is by far the most frequent practice advice given. In their exceedingly popular music blogs, Noa Kageyama asks "Is Slow Practice Really Necessary?", Gerald Klickstein explores "A Different Kind of Slow Practice", and Daniel Coyle shows us all how "Slow is Beautiful."
Okay, I get it.
For determined practicers, the problem is often not that we don't practice slowly. The problem is that we don't know how slowly. We show up to lessons insisting that we have been practicing slowly (usually we're not lying), and we hear week after week to practice slower. But slow is boring, and slow is confusing.
How slow is slow enough?
THE LONG(ER) ANSWER:
I turned to the idea of mindfulness. Most basically, mindful practicing meant being aware of everything, all the time. When I did that, I practiced slowly and deliberately enough to see relaxed, lasting change.
Without going too far into the psychology and meditation side of the movement, I found an ideal practice tempo by tapping into multiple senses. Specific questions helped:
Focusing on real-time sensations rather than long term goals slowed me down. I practiced less angrily. Repetitions felt like experiences, not like plateaus. The absolute best part about it, though, was that everything sounded like I wanted it to sound. I was like a kid in the nerdiest candy shop ever.
Now for THE SHORT(EST) ANSWER:
No: Practice so you can do everything right.
Yes: Practice so you can do nothing wrong.
Happy (slow enough) practicing!
5/10/2014 01:28:43 pm
I'm reminded of an interview with actress Laura Linney, who told of a director who started the rehearsals of a production with, "Now we don't have much time, so we'll need to work slowly."
6/27/2014 05:28:33 am
The philosophy you stated in this blog post reminds me very much of Madeline Bruser's excellent "The Art of Practicing" book. Nice blog.
6/27/2014 08:52:55 am
I wasn't familiar - thanks for reading and sharing!
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