Should We Practice Today in 2020

I write this the week of the 2020 election, but this is not a new question. Within the context of a pandemic, a divisive election with permanent and large ramifications, and an indefinite freeze on performance opportunities and income for most people in our community, many of us are asking if and why we should practice an instrument.

It’s hard to feel like preparing for a musical future matters when so much else is at stake.   And to some degree, it doesn’t.   But gifting yourself a positive musical experience today might.

The goal of practice is to improve, to make sure we sound better tomorrow than today, to learn.

But the point of practice is to engage with music.

If you decide to spend your limited time practicing your instrument, I hope it is meaningful and fulfilling today. That it enriches your life now, regardless of your career.  And if it doesn’t, ask yourself if there is a change you might make so that it could.

If your answer is no, that practicing won’t make today better–more interesting, more fulfilling, more meaningful for you or for someone in your community– you don’t have to do it.  And I hope I am not the first person to validate time off or lack of motivation in music for you. 

If you do go to your instrument, I wish you a productive session. I hope it builds the skills you will one day be paid to use in live performances you love, for audiences you inspire.

I also hope it is more.

I hope music practice is something that makes your life better, today, right now, as you do it.

 

And then I hope you vote and that you bring a relative with you.

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These ideas are not ones I invented alone in my practice room. They are my version of messages from a variety of people who have asked and answered this question meaningfully for months. If you are looking for more, here are two of my favorite musical perspectives on practicing this year. Feel free to share any of your favorites as well.   

Jason Haaheim, timpanist https://jasonhaaheim.com/the-most-teachable-era-in-human-history-for-the-necessity-of-expertise/

Christine Carter, clarinetist https://christine-carter.com/blog/motivation-in-isolation/

If you are looking for sources of meaning:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-matters-most/201808/5-sources-meaning-in-life-and-how-tap-them

If you have questions about voting:

https://www.betterknowaballot.com/ 

https://www.headcount.org/talk-about-voting/ 

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Jessica is a classically-trained clarinetist based out of Florida who loves psychology, collaboration, and public access to education.  She has a BA in psychology and BM in clarinet performance from Northwestern University, her MM in clarinet performance from BGSU, and is pursuing her dm at Florida State University in applying performance psychology to clarinet performance.

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