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Day 163- The Hurdles Make you Stronger

I wanted to write an update days ago but life has been busy. I hate glorifying 'busy' as if it is some badge of honor and success (the busier I am, the more successful and capable I am- the older I get, the more I disagree with this) but when it comes down to it, if I have to choose between practicing or writing about practicing, I'd rather practice. So here we are...

My family and I traveled for roughly 3 weeks over the holiday/winter break, and I knew going into it that it would be one of the greatest challenges toward keeping with the 1000 day challenge. Staying with family, hotels, lots of time in the car- all make practice time hard to carve out. But this time it was different. There was a motivation that went beyond staying with the challenge. I noticed that when I was staying with family I approached the desire to practice differently. There wasn't a question about it. I wasn't apologetic about it as if what I wanted to do was somehow wrong or bad or unusual. I am a musician and I must practice every day. Frankly I don't care if other musicians (more successful or not) need to practice every day. I DO- and that's OK. I get that I am the only one out of my extended family that needs to practice, but I do have members of my family that are 'fanatical' about exercise, so finding common ground through analogy is much easier than you might think. If you respect me as a person, then you have to include that I am a musician who practices every day. Frankly I doubt if any family member would have noticed such a difference with how I mentally approached needing to practice every day. It was probably a much bigger 'thing' for me than any of them. Nobody minded. Somehow I always knew deep down this is the case- really I am just not allowing myself the opportunity to use the different environment and my family as a crutch or excuse. I still have students that swear when they go home their family 'refuse' to let them practice. I understand living in apartments etc. but why would a family support a significant investment in the form of supporting a child being a music major if they won't allow them to practice? (It is more likely students still use their home environment as a crutch). At any rate, churches, schools, etc. There is a way if you want to find it. It is easier in warm weather. I have practiced in parking garages, rest areas, etc. but you can always get creative if you want to find a solution. Finding excuses takes almost no creativity.

I found that practice while staying with family was quite doable. Yes it meant I missed out on some of the TV watching or some of the dishes, but I made sure to pull my fair share of the work and often stayed up a little later cleaning etc. There was no issue. Actually there was significant down time (even on Christmas Day where everyone is 'hanging out') to get some practice time.

Traveling, however, was a different challenge. Driving 10 hours in a day (with a toddler) meant practice would have to be highly specific, planned, and minimal in terms of time. That's OK! I was still able to do it, and it felt great. I will say that since the invention of AirBnb I have found practice on the road to be much easier to negotiate in winter months. Hotels are hit or miss (sometimes you can grab a conference room that is vacant and I know of some players who have created an elaborate pillow set up during mid-day when most rooms are empty) but paying a little more and renting an entire house means PRACTICE TIME!

Today's caption picture is an example of my set-up while staying at an Air BnB house rental just off the highway in VA. Typically I woke up and practiced (3-5 units) before starting the rest of the day- same as I would at home.

A random Air Bnb house in VA- Practicing on the Road

I made it back home without missing a day. Daily unit average took a little bit of a hit, but far better than it has ever been in my life, and wouldn't you know- I'm also a better player now than I have ever been!

Since returning, both my stability and agility have steadily improved. Today I was able to play Eb4 for 15 minutes (playing 72.72% of the time). Engaged corners, relaxed face, good sound. On January 1st I switched from D4 to Eb4 and 18 days later I have reached what took me 6 months to achieve on D4. My plan was to stay on Eb4 until June 1st (6 months on a note, then moving up a half step) but I might have to move up before then. Either way I am eager to take inventory of the steady progress. The improvement is not just noticeable in the playing (where I am as a player) but also the trajectory (the rate of improvement is increasing- or at least it feels that way). I hope your practice is productive! Let's keep going...