If you’ve ever been down the road of counting calories to manage your weight, you may have learned a valuable lesson about practicing.
Colin and I both had a similar experience early on in our calorie counting journeys. We were using an app (MyFitnessPal) to log everything we ate. And then the temptation arose just to eat a bite or two of something small, and because it was small, why bother going through all the trouble of logging it? We very quickly rejected that temptation and laughed at ourselves because the reality of the situation was that whether or not we logged it in the app, the calories would have been consumed. So whether or not we were honest with ourselves, the truth was that we would have eaten more than our calorie goal. (We also found it interesting that we both faced the same temptation with the same result in the same day!)
This is the same thing we all face in our daily practice.
I ask most of my students to fill out a practice checklist every week. They are supposed to use it to help guide their daily practice, and then they are supposed to bring it back to the lesson to help me gauge whether I have given them too much, too little, or just the right sized assignment. In reality, no matter whether or not they are honest with the checks and time frames on the checklist, I can tell based on their progress whether or not they practiced well that week.
I have detailed my practice processes (for both piano and voice) in previous posts. In that process, I only increase my tempo if things are going smoothly and they feel easy. But here is another place that temptation can sneak in. We can succumb to the desire to just get the piece up to tempo. “I just want to be able to play the piece.” But if we are not honest with ourselves in analyzing how our practice is going, or specifically how that last run-through of the page or section or phrase went, we can end up letting those mistakes sneak in and solidify themselves. I don’t just evaluate how things went at the end of each week or even at the end of each practice session, but at the end of each run-through: was that correct? If not, what happened? Why did that happen? How do I prevent it? And THEN I try again.
Honesty really is the best policy and it really does get us where we want to go faster!
You can’t not log the calories consumed and then wonder why you aren’t losing weight when you weren’t truly sticking to your goal! You can’t ignore the mistakes that happen in your practice and wonder why they’re there when you try to play up to tempo!