My practice has taken on a life of its own. I was flipping back through my practice logs and can unravel the story as I see the little boxes filled in. There was a time in my life where practicing every day was not a given. Then there was a time where all I wanted to do was get ‘some’ practice every day. I essentially moved up my “zero”. Zero referring to a new minimum.
Rather than my minimum actually being zero practice, my new zero became one unit of practice (which typically lasts 15-17 minutes). There were even weeks where I got my one unit each day. This became normalized as my new ‘zero’. As an example, I might say “I didn’t get to practice today. All I did was my one unit”- meaning I did my 15-minute unit of practice (almost always working on stability) but nothing on top of that. Then something changed…
One day my zero became two units. That lasted for a month. Then my new zero became three units. That lasted from day 273 to day 278. But I quickly realized that I could add another unit to my new zero. On day 279 I started getting four units every day. I stayed there for about nine weeks. It started to feel like those 28 units per week became the standard- the new minimum. If I wanted to learn a new piece or make time for a new exercise to develop something, I would have to add it to those 28 units. That is exactly what happened. In the mid-300’s five units a day became the new zero. That only lasted a week and then six was the new ‘zero’. Then seven. For the next couple of weeks I would get seven units every day, and it became a game to see how many days I could get an eighth unit. The next thing I knew, eight units a day became my new zero. 56 units every week. Now I am flirting with getting nine some days. I equate nine units to three hours a day. It is about the same. Pretty soon I will have nine units as my new zero. 63 units every week. At that point I will most likely reach a critical mass and then switch to a focus of efficiency. We can always gain efficiency.
I remember thinking that one tiny little unit wasn’t really yielding a ton of results, but in truth, if it was the catalyst to get my mindset to shift my zero point, then it was one of the most profound decisions I ever made as a practicing musician. A little over a year later, it would be unspeakable for me to not get three hours of practice a day. Wait a minute, that sounds like what a professional might say…
If you want to develop, start by getting your zero above zero. Get in the mindset that doing nothing means you only have to do a little (more than zero, because actual zero no longer exists for you). It will change you.
Consecutive days with at least 1 unit of practice = 413
Consecutive days with at least 2 units of practice= 160
Consecutive days with at least 3 units of practice= 141
Consecutive days with at least 4 units of practice= 135
Consecutive days with at least 5 units of practice= 61
Consecutive days with at least 6 units of practice= 53
Consecutive days with at least 7 units of practice= 40
Consecutive days with at least 8 units of practice= 31
Days 0-100- 393 units
Days 101-200- 394 units
Days 201-300- 343 units
Days 301-400- 565 units
Goal for 401-500= 700 units