There’s a strange physicality about being a musician; you practice until muscle memory trains the techniques and tunes right into you. When you’re a singer, a sore throat or a cold is a much-feared affliction and as a guitar player, you slice your vegetables mindfully. Then there’s the whole performing thing. My bud Erin and I both write for the band/sing/play guitar and agree that practicing on one’s own (and sometimes together) can be real work. It’s quite a different feeling compared to writing songs, which Paul McCartney described like this:
“That creative moment when you come up with an idea is the greatest, it’s the best. It’s like sex. You’re filled with a knowledge that you’re right, which, when much of your life is filled with guilt and the knowledge that you’re probably not right, is a magic moment.”
I have similar feelings about composition. Of course, sometimes writing is a slog too and not all fun; in truth we’ve spent the past autumn, winter and current spring season writing and finishing songs for a new album (we’re starting to record really soon!) and it’s been work. Anyway, this is about practice.
As a kid who was never put in (put through?) team sports and who did a whole lot of independent learning in alternative schools and the like, I sometimes unexpectedly rail against practice – it’s like there’s a practice reflex in me that’s missing. It’s almost as if I unconsciously expect the value of the material combined with musical ability to bear me across the waves and onto the other side of finishing a song with the band. So, to compensate, I schedule practicing into my daily agenda and try very hard not to get distracted by any sexy new ideas that show up, or at least, not for too long.
Of course, feeling like a master rules. That’s a pretty good motivator, along with recording deadlines, band practice schedule and live performances. Maybe I’ll read up more on the 10’000 hours rule, too.
Good luck to all you other musicians out there! Now get back to it.