Practicing and Goals

This doesn’t mean that you won’t achieve any goals. It means that when you don’t try to continually reach your larger goals,

it will actually allow you to reach these goals. “Dream” about your larger goals, but concentrate on smaller goals, For example, practice a section of a tune you are having difficulty with rather than continually playing the entire tune. Your goal is to be able to play the entire tune, however, a particular difficult section may continually get in the way.


Every phrase of a tune is like a tune itself. I learned from a mentor of mine when I was younger, an artist, that every part of a large oil painting should stand alone as a complete painting as well. So give each phrase or even one measure of a tune your full attention when practicing, and feel good about your accomplishment when you master it.

What makes music students play through a tune over and over again without addressing the problems created by difficult sections of the tune? A large part of this is ego, thinking “I should be able to play this tune”; “what’s wrong with me”; etc. Actually this is more like “super ego,” the critical part of the mind which keeps the ego in check. There is also of course the matter of patience. It does sometimes require a good amount of patience to achieve musical goals. Musical tasks are a matter of physical and mental training so there is much to work on. Sometimes you simply have to invest a good amount of time.

The learning, practicing experience as a goal in itself.

Side Note: I have learned these concepts by helping students learn for over 30 years and also by being a student myself for 50 years. I have experienced all the same difficulties. I have had some very good teachers however and I also have been self-reflective about all these matters. As I have learned to practice in a more fruitful way, I have achieved more and found more enjoyment in what I’m doing. Enjoyment of the process is the Key. People tackle difficult tasks all the time, puzzles, shooting hoops from larger and larger distances, doing handstands, etc, and they have fun trying to achieve success. Music study and practice can be like this as well.

This will be a short blog with my ongoing thoughts about the musical learning process.

More Later: Happy Practicing!

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