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  • Writer's picturerhapsodydmb

THE JOY OF "PRACTICING"

Updated: Feb 2


I was recently talking with a piano teacher who hails from Kentucky, when she corrected something I had said. I mentioned "practicing" my piano and she stopped me to insistently affirm that "It's not 'practicing'--it's 'playing'!"


From that conversation forward, I aver that I do not "practice" at all!


I'm an avid reader of all things musical and musicology, not to mention poetry of a certain down-to-earth easy-to-understand kind to which I best relate. One of the nicest comments I ever received was an evaluation of some of my musical poetry that a friend had read, someone who declared "you write something like Emily Dickenson." I was thrilled because Dickenson is my favorite poet of all, yet I had not consciously been imitating her, and wish that I had her especial poetic talents, to be sure!


One of the pending unread books I picked up a few days ago is "The Art of Practicing: A guide to making music from the heart" by Madeline Bruser, a piano teacher in New York City. When I read this below comment on her website, I was convinced there was something in Bruser's book for me:


If more people read this book, perhaps we might see an increase in the number of inspired and joyful music makers who, rather than viewing practice as a punitive activity, regard it as the supreme opportunity to explore their own creativity.”

–American Music Teacher Magazine


I was taken by the book's Foreword by violinist Yehudi Menuhin, who as an endorsement of Bruser's book said:


""...(Practicing) is a refined art that partakes of intuition, of inspiration, patience, elegance, clarity, balance, and above all, the search for ever greater joy in movement and expression. This is what practice is really about....Too many generations have been twisted into slavery and suffered the consequences of frustration, all manner of aches and pains, physical and spiritual,as well as mental depression..."


Without one doubt it is joy with which I look forward to re-starting piano lessons soon (for the first time ever in-person!) with my fourth teacher, Amy Brooke (Berkeley, CA). It is in that very spirit of joy, happiness, and fun that sometimes I dress up for my piano lessons, especially if I am working on a piece by a Russian composer, pretending to be a "fine Russian countess" with hat and long dress, as I did in the photo above.


Humor, laughter, and joy are not antithetical to progress and improvement in technique and musicality, nor do they obviate seriousness in my endeavor, nor I hope, in yours!

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