Mistakes And Discoveries

For all my talk of playing every day and focusing your practice, I still fail to do these things at times, even after almost forty years of playing music.

For instance, I set a practice challenge goal of an hour a day, and have stuck to it except for last Saturday. I spent the morning working on FiddleHed content and then feeling the need to resemble a human being 🙂 I went for a walk and talk with my friend Tim from Ohio. After a nice chat I went to an Indian music concert with my friend Pete.

I got home at 11pm and after taking care of a few things, started to practice. After a half an hour I was nodding off with fiddle in hand. I know, I know, I know! I’m always less productive at that hour, but I still make that mistake.

Balancing Life And Work

As my friend Tim says, “Sometimes life gets in the way.” It’s important to be kind to yourself! I’m actively working on this. Though I didn’t have the most productive practice session, I got to hang out with friends and come closer to the mystical balance point between life and work.

Another way to be kinder to myself is to realize we are humans who, through making mistakes can make discoveries. Sometimes moving away from your instrument and practice can lead to fresh insight and ideas. It’s similar to taking breaks from work. A break can refresh you and your mind, creating space for new solutions to problems.

You can discover new ways to do the same thing. Or new techniques and exercises to practice them. I often get ideas for tunes and songs while practicing. I allow myself to work with them when they arrive, or else I will forget them and new ideas will be less likely to visit. I try to record everything. Here’s a tune I wrote on the first day day of the Fall Practice Challenge called Branching Streams.

Balancing Focus And Discovery

Here’s a good strategy to focus on things while leaving space for discovery: limit your practice goals for a session to one main thing. Time-permitting, leave some time to for other less focused activity: playing old favorites, working on other skills or allowing yourself to explore and discover.

Here’s a lesson on how to make the most of your limited practice time: One Tune, One Scale, Ten Minutes.

How has your fiddle practice helped other aspects of your life?

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5 responses to “Mistakes And Discoveries

  1. Actually I am a classroom teacher but am blessed to teach a just for fun ukulele club after school which has made my day. I have kids who have never picked up an instrument and kids who are with me for year 2. Music should be FUN!!!

    1. I’m a classroom teacher as well–5 periods with 7/8 graders and the two classes of bluegrass music are the last two periods. I love it that you are doing an after-school ukulele club!

  2. Funny I just read this BLOG entry…. I have not picked up my fiddle since school started [I’m a 4th grade teacher]. The beginning of the year is chaotic and there was no time for my fiddle. I maintained my twice a day ukulele practice but could not focus enough on my fiddle. I’m a real newbie…I taught myself [with your help] to play fiddle in May of this year. This summer I spent an hour a day plus on both instruments with emphasis on fiddle. By end of summer I had some cool tunes under my belt and I felt pretty good about my playing. I signed up for your subscription……and then school started. End of fiddle 🙁 But today…. I sat down and tuned my fiddle friend and away we went. Good times! I was amazed at how easily it flowed back…Ok sure there were some ugly squawks, but my point is the “vacation”while perhaps too long really opened me up to my fiddle practice. So it’s back to my twice a days with both instruments.Thanks for being here when I was ready to return.

    1. @Ann, I could have written your comment–I’m a teacher, too, and ever since September 5 I can barely find time for my own music. Luckily I get to teach two classes of bluegrass music grades 7-12, so I’m getting something in the way of playing strings. Hang in there! ~connie