Sunday, December 12, 2010
How DO you get to Carnegie Hall?
This time of year always seem to be full of concerts. Today we played the second of three band Christmas concerts, all in local churches. I will be helping out at a Christmas pageant at a friend's church next weekend. And I played my two Auf dem Strom concerts a couple weeks ago. I really love playing and I am grateful for the opportunities that I have. A colleague at work recently asked me how much time playing in the various music groups takes. I realized that she was thinking only about the rehearsals and concerts. I said, "In order to play the music I want to play, with the people I want to play with, I need to practice pretty much every day, in addition to the rehearsals with the groups." She was surprised. I think many people who don't play an instrument would be surprised at the time it takes.
I have a demanding job in the daytime (I teach 4th grade) so I have a limited amount of time to practice, but I try to put in 45 to 60 minutes a day, more if I have a lot of music to learn or need to build up strength for a performance. I know other nonprofessional musicians who practice much more than that. We do have people in our community band who do not practice. That is the choice they have made and they can still have a lot of enjoyment of playing with the group and socializing.
The exciting part of practicing is setting goals and seeing improvement! Every year since I started playing again has been full of returning ability and improvement. I have worked on technical things that I didn't have a lot of success with when I was younger, like intonation, lip trills, and Kopprasch. It was a revelation to me how much working with a tuner could improve my sense of pitch. If portable tuners had been invented when I was in college, my life would have been different.
I'm looking forward to more chamber music, orchestra concerts, and band concerts. I could not do this if I didn't practice as much as I do. Though it takes discipline to practice after a full day at work, it is rewarding, just as working out at the gym is rewarding. So, though I'm not headed for Carnegie Hall, I'll keep on practicing.