It’s that time of year – do you have your list of accomplishments for next year? May I offer a piece of advice about making New Year’s resolutions – DON’T!
Don’t make a list; don’t set a standard at which you hope to perform; don’t decide how many hours a week you’re going to play, don’t pick 12 songs you’re going to learn next year.
Do dream, explore, be curious, marvel, share, listen, experiment.
Here’s the thing: if you’re reading this, something in your soul has cried out for music. That’s big. Why would you tether a voice coming out from deep inside you with numbers you think up, other people’s success plans, expectations you can’t be sure are appropriate?
(This is my take on musical development – I don’t claim to speak for the entire teaching staff at FHS, or any other music teachers. If you disagree with me, here’s food for thought! I’m curious to hear how you see it.)
Let’s say you decide you’ll practice half an hour a day. You’ve just set yourself up to fall short. How’s it going to feel when you miss days, or only get in 15 minutes? What’s it going to do for your motivation to keep track of your failure? Be honest – beating yourself up is exhausting and, in my experience as a music teacher, not a sustainable incentive.
Or maybe you exceed your goal, and practice 40 minutes a day. Yay! But that bar was too low, and you might just have played an hour once in a while if you hadn’t had your eyes on that 30 minute goal!
And how much time did we just waste discussing time instead of doing music?
The voice that brought you here will guide you if you listen. Play when you want to play, listen when you want to listen. Try routines if that’s helpful, just don’t use them to measure success.
Of course your skills need to be fed and used in order to grow (although incubation is also doing its thing while you go about your business!). So find ways to make it easier: leave your instrument out, tune it at the end of practice so you can grab and play when you have a minute. Keep or take music in the car. Ask your kids what songs they’d like you to play so they can sing. Try to pick out your favorite holiday song by ear.
Know that the random ideas you sometimes get about what to do next musically are far more powerful than lists and schedules – they’re your inspiration.
And inspiration trumps everything.
But you know that. Against all odds, you’re here, surrounded by people who want you to succeed. We know you can do it. And we’ll make it fun.
I hope your next year is filled with wonderful surprises, beautiful music and many, many loving friends!