My last entry (which feels like a lifetime ago) I wrote about veering off of the “Habit Highway” and charting a new course. For starters, I can now say that it was the right decision to do so. Part of me just wishes I started veering off the roads years ago. Sometimes we get wrapped up in checking off the boxes in our university programs and we forget to really listen to our own playing in a way that is raw and true. Yes there are recitals and ensemble auditions and weekly lessons etc. etc. etc. that need to happen, but sometimes I wonder if the system would be better if it allowed for growth the way it actually happened (which is not linear and weekly). Had I just really listened to what I really needed, I would have done this years ago. But let’s not dwell. Onward!
What has amazed me lately is the number of days that I clearly felt like I was in a new place. Things were different- better. A new level of abilities with the old level completely in my rearview mirror. It seems as if this epiphany is happening more frequently. Just when I think I’m at some new significant place in my playing, BAM!- the next day things take a turn and I discover a new level. Sometimes this new level takes days to acclimate, however, the gestalts are happening at a greater rate. It seems as if I am approaching the singularity with my playing. Could I be approaching the boiling point? Almost daily I find myself saying “I’m in a new place- and THIS time I mean it!” You’d think it would be the opposite (the better you get, the harder it is to break through to the next level) but in my experience lately it has been the opposite. Today is day 592 of practicing every day without missing. I have averaged 3 hours a day for 146 days, and 144 of those days have been 3 hours or more (and I really think the consistency is key). On the one hand, plateaus may be harder to break through. But on the other I am racking up WAY more units than before. What started as “just play every day” has turned into “can’t stop won’t stop- 3 hrs a day” and with (not surprisingly) great results. The real question is how far will this go? Will I reach a point that makes me say “oh well, I guess talent is what you need to carry you further”? Frankly I doubt it. I see no limits and I feel fantastic. I soloed with our top band yesterday and I slayed it. It is starting to feel consistent, like I know it should have always felt. I’m going to keep gaining and keep climbing. I’ve started to hear stagnation in my students (many of whom are not getting consistent practice time every day- like I used to be!). I don’t take it personally, but I recognize that is where I used to be. NO MORE! I am truly a better player today. And THIS time I mean it!