As I pondered what to practice today, my thoughts shifted to how to practice. With quality of course and in pursuit of excellence. What would best serve me as a performing musician? The first piece in a performance has always challenged me, particularly as a soloist. I want to begin with a piece that has energy, yet I begin it to fast. I can not imitate a new space within my home, just need lots of different stage for that. Nor can I imitate many of the other distractions that arise from people around the venue. While reflecting on this, I also recalled how the struggle with beginning pieces is not isolated to the first piece in a performance context. So how to practice with this?
As an experiment I decided to not any warm up nor undertake any intentional acts to focus myself. Just sit down and begin a piece, even a couple takes of the same beginning. Then I did about five minutes work organizing a pile of papers, filing, chucking and get little emotional jolts of things I need to get done. I would then sit down and begin another piece, then back to the pile. Another beginning, followed by a different beginning, followed by more organizing. Research has found that switching between tasks is a strain on brains and focus.
As is performance. Things happen. People move about. Some chatter. Lights are in your eyes. External distractions abound, yet the internal ones remain the most difficult to deal with and today I found one way to work with some. I continued this for an hour, even playing an entire piece at times. Then I decided to move back from the pile and play a three song set. Horrible, it was absolutely horrible. My focus was shot. But just as if I was on stage I kept playing through the set.
This will not become my normal practice routine, but I may experiment with it again. Onwards!
Photo by birgerking