I keep coming back to this idea of practice. As a music teacher, that’s what I deal with on a daily basis. It’s weird, though. When I was a music major in college, I thought scales and arpeggios were this evil chore my teacher made me do. She’d tell me every week, “Practice these every day.” Did I? No, of course not. I was eighteen and thought I knew everything about the flute. I practiced my songs and band music, but very rarely the scales. Just enough to fake my way through my lessons (I hope my professor isn’t reading this). But I’d wonder why I was having difficulty playing my solo or technical exercises.
After I graduated, I became a teacher and it finally hit me about what she was talking about and why she wanted me to submit to this daily torture of scales. They are the building blocks of everything in music. To truly know them, you have to live them and breathe them, and the only way to do that is to play them over and over and over, every day. I began practicing them the way I was supposed to years ago, and it was amazing that in such a short time, I was playing things I never could in college and sounding awesome at the same time. Wow – if I had only figured that out years ago…
So, I think about my writing, and challenge myself to do these same things. I sit down every day. I practice writing prompts or free writing, maybe change-up a scene from another character’s point of view. The key is to write, even if I have no clue what will come, and enjoy being in the moment of words flowing across the page. The more I do it – the more I practice the words – the better they flow. They may not be the best yet, but I can see them growing and maturing.
Writing this blog has stretched me as a writer and forced me to put these ideas into practice. I sat down at my computer a few minutes ago with no idea what to write, but now, have a clearer picture of the things that have been in my heart. I suppose as a musician, the idea of practice was etched there years ago. The coolest thing now, I don’t think of practice as a chore the way I did when I was a teenager. I love it and find the best things inside me are what come out. Whether they are on the page or through my instrument, they can be beautiful music.