“Practicing is a form of meditation.” — Frank Hamilton 

After I graduated high school, I spent a year abroad as an exchange student. If you’ve ever lived in a strange place, you know it can produce a different form of stress. Pretty much every day after I got home from school, I’d get on the piano and play away for a while. One day, my mom for the year made an observation: “Playing the piano for you is like sewing is for me. It’s a way to relax and get rid of the day’s stress.” 

I hadn’t really considered that before. But she was right. And she still is, although now it’s the fiddle or banjo or mandolin or whatever. I will often pull out a songbook and work my way through it, seeing how songs sound, trying out the same tune of a different instrument, doing what my dad used to call “piddling around.”

Is that practicing? Maybe? I’m not working very hard, at least it doesn’t feel like I am, but I am building a feel for the song and a feel for the instrument and experimenting on how to bow a certain passage or discovering tunes I really want to learn eventually or tunes I’d rather skip for now. So my brain is definitely getting a workout. 

But at the same time, I feel relaxed and rejuvenated when I finally set the fiddle back down on its stand. So, yeah, that kind of practicing IS meditation, if meditation’s goal is to calm you down.

So if you spend your fifteen minutes piddling around, that’s great. It is practicing. 

~ Maura Nicholson