Jes Raymond

& The Blackberry Bushes

The Art of Practice Part 2

The Art of Practice - Consistency, Consciousness, Curiosity, Community

Yesterday I wrote about consistency. Today, in my quest to prove this alliteration true, I will move on the way in which we approach that consistent practice.

Consciousness -

We have to show up to practice. As in we have to really show up. I don't care what anyone says- you can't learn to sing while also driving a car or playing guitar. You need to give it your focus. You can't really practice writing while also having Facebook alerts going off. You can't practice guitar while you watch a movie. You can't meditate and make a to-do list. Multi-tasking is the enemy of practice. It is so tempting to think we will be more productive, and we are so scared of boredom. To have our practices mean something, we have to approach them with consciousness.

The first part of a conscious practice is presence. No matter what we are doing, it is always good to ensure our whole being is present. Connecting to our body and our breath, we can pick up a guitar and know that is what we are doing. We can do our warm-ups with attention on the sensations. We can scan for tension, one of our greatest obstacles and gently let it go. Use the warm-up ritual, the invoking of the muse, the "I made it here" moments to connect your whole being to what you are practicing.

The second part of a conscious practice is to set goals. It takes some time and planning, but having practice goals makes progress and learning so much faster and rewarding than sitting down and randomly following your whims. They can be creative goals- write one verse, one chorus. Technique goals- get a new lick up 10 clicks on the metronome. But they should be attainable in one sitting. If they are bigger than that, break them down further, what is half of that lofty goal. You want to learn a new song - how about getting the chord progression clean as a first step. Knowing what your goal is and when you have reached it is a great advantage in making progress.

Here's to a day of presence!