Practice Tip of the Week:
Play Your Instrument, Don’t Work It

We live in a world in which a lot of work is drudgery.
Some jobs are unfulfilling, and people can be unhappy
at work.

These feelings should never exist when you play music.
After all, it’s built into our language: We “play” our
instruments, we don’t “work” them.

When you are playing your instrument–whether it’s what
you do for a living or just as a weekend hobby–there
should always be an element of play involved.

Think of little kids on a playground. They’re unconscious
of time, responsibilities, outcomes, what comes next.
They’re just playing.

We have an opportunity to be like those children when
we practice, rehearse, and perform. Sure, musicians
want to make forward progress. But, sometimes this
progress is best achieved by letting go.

You can’t spend every practice session thinking it’s work!

Many musicians have difficulty letting go of their serious
side, so here are some simple suggestions to put the element
of “Play” into your, uh, playing:

· At some point during every practice session, play through
something with reckless abandon. Don’t worry about your
sound. Just play.

· Try something that seems absolutely impossible, and
laugh at yourself as you do it.

· Purposely sound bad. Pretend it’s the very first time you’re
playing, and try to sound like an absolute beginner. Play out
of tune. Use horrible tone. Lose all physical control of your

· Play a style of music you absolutely hate. Bring out all the
elements of this style that you can’t stand. Overdo it. You can
even use the body language of musicians who play this style.

Each of these suggestions can add some humor to your practice
sessions and reconnect you to “playing” your instrument.

Being a musician is fun. Recognize that what you’re doing is play.

To Your Musical Success!