The Problem with Practice

Practice, practice makes perfect, perfect is a fault, and faultlines change. — REM, “I Believe”

The concept of practice is problematic for me. I’m classically trained on the piano and violin (although I’ve forgotten most of it). When I was studying, my parents kept harping “Practice, practice, practice. Practice makes perfect.” I didn’t want to be perfect. Once you’re perfect, there’s no where to go. So, my playing became rote memorization, and mind-numbing repetition, totally devoid of any passion. It sounded good, but my heart wasn’t in it.

I can’t take that into writing and art.

The great jazz masters taught me something, especially Sonny Rollins. Mr. Rollins never practiced. He played! Every time he played a song, he played it better than the last time, even if the last time was ten minutes ago. When asked why it sounded different, he replied, “I already played it that way. Why should I play it the same way again?”

That I can do! I can write this story better than I wrote the last one. I can make this render better than the last one. That’s how I can grow, develop, and continue to push myself, without ever hitting that stale and stagnant point of heartless repetition.

 

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