24 Feb 2016
…is also the most productive thing I’ve done.
Imagine the scenario: you’re a young, vibrant piano major working on the pieces for an upcoming recital. You’ve got over 55minutes worth of music to practice, memorize, and master (and only 2 months left in which to do it). You’ve just stepped out of your weekly lesson with the professor who is so good at piano she can practically sight read your music, and you need to make significant improvement in the next week on all 55min worth of music.
What do you do?
Do you walk into the practice room and play through the whole set? (taking up 55minutes of practice time, and not really getting anywhere)
Do you work on a single section and move onto another section when it almost sounds correct?
Or do you pick out the single most pressing moment that your teacher told you to fix, and do everything you possibly can to fix it. No extra playing, no other thoughts, just singular focus on that one aspect.
(in case you haven’t caught the way I’m drifting you, it’s number three).
The most productive practice session I’ve ever had was when I spent one hour working on one measure of one piece. (and I did that once a day for the rest of the week)
That’s five hours of my life spent working on less than 2 seconds of total music.
It’s about as sexy as doing your taxes with your wife on the night of Valentine’s Day.
But after that week, my teacher was impressed, I got the most troublesome part of my piece out of the way and went from little piano boy getting the drinks from the drinks from the locker room, to star player in the opening line-up.
All through doing the least sexy practice I’ve ever done.
Our culture is obsessed with the sexy.
…tricks from ancient cultures,
…the secret breakfast shake that Micheal Phelps uses to get gold medals at the olympics
All of these are distractions. Focus on the important things first, the least sexy.
You won’t have a story to tell that day, but you’ll have an impact that lasts a lifetime.