Things to Remember

As a musician, your learning is never truly done. That is probably true for most vocations, but especially true for musicians. We must continually work on our craft, or we may backtrack and lose skills. 

When I was a student, first learning all of the amazing Coordination methods, I made a list of the things I needed to remember: squooshy knees, loose jaw, breathing from the diaphragm, heavy left elbow, loose thumbs, right arm weight, etc. I would put this list on my music stand as I practiced, and scan the page every few measures to make sure I was remembering everything.  As I progressed in my playing, the list changed.

These days, all of the methods I wanted to ingrain are now ingrained, but there are still certain tough-to-break bad habits that creep back into my playing when I'm tired or stressed, or if I'm working on an especially difficult passage.  Over the years, I came up with symbols to remind me to avoid the most egregious of my bad habits, and still write these in my music at trouble spots.

I've been asking my students to make similar lists, and keep them close as they work. The most difficult part of being a musician, I think, is the immense self-discipline it takes to break bad habits and form new, healthy ones. Only if you continually expose yourself to an idea you want to become part of your playing, will it happen.

Happy practicing! 

P.S. My solo in the Vaughn-Williams went rather well last weekend. :-)