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Tip #1 – Not Enough Chops in the Day!
One of the biggest complaints I hear from a lot of people who are incorporating playing / practicing into their daily lives is that there just isn’t enough time in the day with work, school, family, and obligations. Well, one thing I’m finding for myself is that doing this full time, there isn’t enough “chops” in the day to practice EVERYTHING that needs to be accomplished just to maintain everything. Range, tonguing, reading, improvisation, flexibility, strength / endurance, ear training, scales, arpeggios, licks, chord progressions, speed drills for fingers / tongue, Clarke Studies, Arban’s, etc.
So just like someone who feels like they don’t have enough “time” I am having to delegate the tasks in a systematic order so that I can touch on things weekly vs. daily. Let’s face it, I’ve tried to practice between 4 and 8 hours each day and can easily do that because I get EXTREMELY wrapped up in what I’m doing. But by the 3rd day, my chops are SO tired that I’m essentially useless on a gig or even in the practice room. Once your chops go – sound, flexibility, range, etc. go with them!
So your first tip for today is to delegate tasks for each day with the allotted time that you do have. And don’t worry about the time that you don’t have, because on the other side of the spectrum is burned up chops. It IS true that you do get stronger by playing more often and consistently – but only to a point because we’re still dealing with fast twitch muscles that require / demand rest.
Tip #2 – Sometimes the BEST Lessons Are –
Putting ourselves into situations that can cause us to crash and burn… HARD! It’s a HUGE blow to the ego, NEVER feels good, but just like cutting yourself or burning yourself, we tend to learn VERY quickly how to prevent future pain.
As you all know, I’ve been on this improvisational journey for about a year and a half… I essentially wanted to shed as hard as I possibly could in hopes that it would be enough to learn what I needed. But just practicing in my room (shed) wasn’t enough. Without performing live it’s impossible to fully gain the experience, confidence, and skills that we hear our super heroes use each and every time they perform! The first time I crashed pretty hard was at a jam session. I got lost in the chord changes, my time went out the window, and I was EXTREMELY embarrassed. It took me MONTHS to work up the courage to stop making excuses and go back. But by going back, I’ve started to gain the skills on learning how work through my mistakes on the spot and actually turn them into something other than mistakes.
One of the most impressive examples I can give you is with comedian Jeff Dunham… you’ll recognize him as the puppet-master who performs with Walter, Achmed the Dead Terrorist, and Jose Jalapeño. If you get a chance to watch him either live or via television, he routinely makes mistakes in his act. It’s live, after all and things happen. But what amazed me the most about him was his ability to flawlessly and seamlessly work his way out of the mistakes / errors by poking fun of himself, and other tactics to fully recover and not fold or crater on stage.
Musicians MUST learn this skill as well… if you let a wrong note, missed chord change, missed note, or wrong rhythm train wreck you, it’ll be a tough road to hoe! But by getting out and performing, you’ll gradually learn the skills necessary to recover from the inevitable.
“Most people are so busy knocking themselves out trying to do everything they think they should, they never get around to do what they want to do.”
Have a GREAT week!