I just rehearsed a new combination of musicians yesterday for a show in Los Angeles tonight, and after we were finished rehearsing we got onto talking about practicing, and how we've all been through periods of questioning how or why we practice.
Tom Brechtlein is playing drums in the group tonight and he was talking about practicing 8hrs a day for a year some 30 years ago, and how he lost his groove during that time. Meaning that there ended up being so much musical information present that it was getting in the way of the music itself. He said he fixed that by rarely practicing at all for the next year and just playing music with people. Once again the subject of communication comes to the forefront, and it's something I believe very strongly in when it comes to learning music. The more you can play with other people and interact, the more you're going to learn about what works and what doesn't, and where your place in the music is. Not to mention the fact that this will give you so much more confidence to show your voice as a musician no matter what kind of situation you find yourself in.
Dennis, our keyboard player tonight, brought up a good point that basically says "if you spend most of your life practicing in a room on your own, you're going to end up being really good at playing music in a room on your own". I think there's a lot of truth in that, and it once again comes down to communication and having an open mind and ears that will allow you to grow as a musician in a group setting. For me most of the times I perform in front of an audience there are other people onstage with me. So I try and take every opportunity I can to play with other musicians and surround myself with people that listen.
It's amazing how my perception of practicing has changed over the years too. When I was in London and also when I was going to Berklee, all I wanted to do was practice all day long. And even then I felt like there weren't enough hours in the day. When I left Berklee and moved to NYC I didn't have any gigs so there were the hours in the day. But as soon as I started working regularly there was definitely a drop off in practicing as my hours on the band stand and in the studio increased. And now, with several businesses, a home, a wife, a dog, and many other responsibilities besides music, practice becomes quite a luxury. It's something I really enjoy when I get to do it, but it's also something I never want to force, or just cram in because that's the only time I have. Quite a balancing act, but an interesting point in my life where I have a lot of music to work on, new ideas coming all the time, and limited amounts of time to accomplish what I need to get done.
One thing I do on the membership portion of www.videobasslessons.tv is upload a lot of my own practice sessions for members to check out and take a look inside my process. I'm very honest with the videos and dont' edit any of them, or mix the sound on any of them either. It's just a fly on the wall look at my practice routine and I thought I would share one of those sessions with you today. It started out early in the morning as me thinking I wasn't that inspired to practice, and goes through the process of me finding out it was not only a good time for me to practice, but I got some new melodic and harmonic ideas out of the session, and found some things I needed to work on technically in my playing.
Patience is Key, Everything is Possible, and Hard Work is Obligatory.
P.S. we're streaming this show with the band I mentioned in this blog post (also featuring Bob Reynolds on Tenor) tonight on Ustream! that's today (October 19th 2011). You can check it out HERE FOR FREE! at 9pm US Pacific time. Don't forget to Comment, Like, and Follow me on twitter!