This evening I was practicing with my wife, who is a flutist. We have been playing the same repertoire for a couple of years now and have performed it a lot. We performed the same program over twenty times in mid 2016, and we're about to perform it again five times next week in Beijing. So how do we keep playing and practicing this repertoire without getting totally sick and tired of it?!
It's all about your mindset, and a simple change of wording can sometimes have a powerful effect on your mindset.
Practicing vs. Enhancing: the dictionary definitions
Read the definitions carefully and note the different connotations that the words produce.
* The customary, habitual, or expected procedure of something.
* Repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.
* A period of time spent doing something.
* Intensify, increase, or further improve the quality, value, or extent of.
So my question to you is, what is it that you want to enhance in your playing? Now that you've got an idea of the definitions, let's give some examples and compare the effect of using 'practicing' with 'enhancing'.
I am practicing my scales this morning
I am enhancing my scales this morning
I am practicing the mood of Recuerdos de la Alhambra
I am enhancing the mood of Recuerdos de la Alhambra
I am practicing the phrasing in Bach's prelude
I am enhancing the phrasing in Bach's prelude
When you are enhancing then there is no end result, only infinite progress.
When you hear a great musician perform, or see a great athlete in action, you are witnessing many many hours of enhancing, not just mere practicing.
I am constantly enhancing my warm up/technical work material. I've been playing the same exercises for a long time now (scales, chords, arpeggios, etc.), yet I still strive to enhance even the most simple of things, such as playing an open string or playing a C major scale.
Below is a video of a warm up that I filmed in real time (live on Facebook). It's unscripted and unrehearsed, and I let my intuition guide me through a bit - just as I normally do when there's no camera on (I filmed it on an Ipad, so apologies for the flipped image!).
Enhancing can be short term or long term or a combination of the two. I will probably use a similar warm up tomorrow and enhance many of the things that I thought needed enhancing today. Sometimes I might spend a lot of time enhancing one thing in the moment.
Let me know what you would like to enhance in your playing. Try and be specific.
Swap the word practicing for the word enhancing and see what it does for your mindset!
Dr. Daniel Nistico is a passionate performer, author and educator who specializes in the performance practice of 18th and 19th century guitar music. Daniel's teaching and research aims to revitalize the concept of being a well-rounded musician, with emphasis on topics like harmony that can lead to deeper musical understanding and provide tools for composing and improvising.