Watching the Grass Grow

Posted: November 19, 2010 by Paul H in Tips & Tricks

GrassYou know that feeling of practicing something and it just doesn’t seem to get better? I do, because progress happens like the grass grows. Have you ever watched grass? You never see it grow, but come back in a week and it needs to be mowed.

Reality is, if you practice something regularly, after a few weeks it will be a little smoother, or you’ll be able to play it a couple clicks faster on the metronome. The process of mastering an instrument is a future shock kind of thing. Progress happens, but not when you’re paying attention, it’s gradual so you don’t notice it.

If a friend watches you play something on the first day of the month. Then you practice it everyday. If he sees you play the same thing at the end of the month, he’ll notice the improvement, not you. It’s kind of like time-lapse photography. When I was young and practicing like crazy, after a gig a friend might say, wow, I never saw you play that well. I remember thinking he’s crazy! I didn’t notice I was better because I was too close to see my gradual improvement. 

I can always tell if my students are practicing. For instance, my student Klaus from Santa Clarita. When Klaus started with me he could hardly play because of a left hand injury. His goal was to get good enough to play in a band. Klaus had a full time job at the gas company so he didn’t have a lot of time to practice, but he did practice consistently, about an hour a day. After a year or so, Klaus put a band together and was gigging almost every weekend!

The secret is not practicing eight hours a day. It’s an hour a day, over many days. Or if you’re really serious maybe two or three hours a day, but be consistent.

Bottom line; don’t watch the grass grow, but practice consistently and you’ll be shocked in the future.

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