Blog # 61: Time Away
This past month has been an interesting one for me. When I'm in New York, I tend to play a lot of house sessions, rehearsals and Jam sessions(2-4 a week usually). I also like to practice about 5 hours a day(and I haven't taken a day off since I had my wisdom teeth removed in 2003). But scheduling rehearsals, practicing that much, and booking gigs was burning me out. About a month ago I was playing duo with my friend Deric Dickens and he sent me the bootleg recording he made afterwards. We were playing in a drum room(totally dead acoustically) and I heard a ton of things that I felt I needed to work on in my playing. Soundproof rooms are pretty unforgiving on trumpet. I decided I needed to get away for a while and doing some very specific shedding on weaknesses I heard, work on some bad habits and avoid playing with people for a while.
So for 3 weeks I didn't schedule any sessions, avoided all music related calls and just practiced like a madman. I even went back to my parents house in Philadelphia for a week to get further away from any distractions. I was practicing about 6 hours a day, but my practicing was lot more focused, specific and I felt that it was a lot more productive. I learned there is a big different between practicing just to maintain your ability and stay in shape and specific goal-oriented practice. When your mind is clear and focused you can get a lot more out of your practicing. It felt really good to get away and work on some things and last week got back into the scene and scheduled a session/rehearsal everyday. I definitely felt that I had made some progress during my time away(with music, you're never going to feel completely satisfied, but I felt I made some significant improvements).
Its been good to come back out, see my friends, play some sessions and gigs. I still feel like I am riding an intense practice period, but now I'm going to try to balance it with playing with people again, at least for a while. The funny thing about the little hiatus is that it felt so productive, I have the urge to take another one already. I may try to do this once or twice a year. I want to continue to improve and that's why I've been so drawn to music. Its really endless as to how far you can take it.
Its good to make a list of weaknesses and things you want to fix in your playing and then to get working on 'em. Bad habits die hard, so you gotta be mindful of them everyday. The practicing never ends, but there are times its more productive than others. I always really liked jazz/improvised music because I view myself as the thing I'm working on and the performances and CD's as just a gauge to where I am at any moment.