Today was my 500th day in a row of practice. I am half way to my goal. There is still much work to do, but it feels like a good milestone. A birthday of sorts. In the past 100 days I reached 900 units, which is significant for a few reasons. First, it shatters my previous best hundred days of 565 units. 900 units is a lot of productivity! Second, I am now averaging nine units a day (which most people would call 3 hours of practice). I don’t see this number increasing too much. I think a good goal is to repeat 900 units every 100 days. I have created a lifestyle habit of putting in 3 hours a day, and nine units offers me a fair amount of time to work with. I think a good goal at this point is 4500 more units over the next 500 days. That would equate to 7095 units over the 1000 days. I have grown so much as a player, but that means that 63% of the units on this journey are still to be practiced. It boggles my mind to think about how much more growth as a player there is to come!
There is much that has happened over the past hundred days. Much challenge to meet the goals. Sometimes it even feels like resistance. Recently I played in an ensemble where there was a member that said (I am paraphrasing): ‘I’m not like you applied professors, I’ve been a band director for the past 20 years’ as if that suffices as some kind of excuse to sound unprepared. They said it in a way that implied that I sound ‘good’ because it is my job to do so. It’s ‘built in’ to my life. I wanted to scream at them= there is NOTHING built in to my job that makes me sound better. I work 60 hours a week doing my job. Then on top of that I put in 3 hours every day- time I don’t get to spend with my family or sleep etc. in order to sound ‘good’. Nothing comes ‘for free’. As frustrated as I was, I realized that the further I go, the smaller the number of people that really understand what it takes to get there. I never considered that aspect of practicing and improving.
That particular experience caused me to think about the changes that have occurred over the past 500 days. It’s not the embouchure change. It is the 1000 embouchure changes that have happened. It’s not the emotional battle. It’s the thousand emotional battles that you fight. It’s not the breakthrough- it’s the thousand breakthroughs that you experience. The hurdles just keep coming and the act of moving forward in order to jump them (or knock them over) becomes the new existence. The very concept of “right now” in my playing or state of mind cannot be explained as if it is a fixed point in time or space. I have come to embrace the fact that even this point has a trajectory- it cannot represent anything more than this point because tomorrow will be a new point. We often think of players and how they play as if it is a fixed level. For some it might be. But for me, I like this existence of constant motion and improvement. I doubt I’ll stop at 1000. That’s just another arbitrary point. Much like climbing a mountain, the last hundred feet are considerably more challenging than the first hundred (temperature, oxygen level, fatigue, etc.). I am starting to realize what is still ahead of me. For the first time, I can see it for what it is, and I am ready for it. Game on.
Consecutive days with at least 1 unit of practice= 500
Consecutive days with at least 2 units of practice= 247
Consecutive days with at least 3 units of practice= 228
Consecutive days with at least 4 units of practice= 222
Consecutive days with at least 5 units of practice= 148
Consecutive days with at least 6 units of practice= 140
Consecutive days with at least 7 units of practice= 128
Consecutive days with at least 8 units of practice= 55
Consecutive days with at least 9 units of practice= 55
Days 0-100- 393 units
Days 101-200- 394 units
Days 201-300- 343 units
Days 301-400- 565 units
Days 401-500- 900 units