In my previous blog posts in this series, I have discussed the idea of practice in a specific way as it occurs in a room and at a particular time and some of the mental and physical considerations of the experience. Once you have entered the realm of advanced practice of any kind, limitations of space and time give way to an omnipresent passion for and openness to learning, growing, observing and manifesting. I once heard someone say (and there are variations of this phrase) “I’d rather be on the beach thinking about music than be in a practice room thinking about the beach!” Once we recognize the connectivity of all things, we become more acutely aware of inspiration and ideas occurring in unexpected places. My passion for music became a passion for drumming, then percussion, then composing and then all learning. Seeing the relationship between music and math, science, language, architecture, storytelling, film making and everything else made me more receptive to influences and inspiration from all spheres.
“Spending time with Maurice White in Brazil during my time living there, I asked him where he found inspiration. He gestured to everywhere”.
Passion is the fuel for exploration, invention, achievement and longevity in any pursuit in life.
I had an interesting exchange with a very thoughtful reader of my first blog in this series. The reader wrote me asking about why I hadn’t emphasized the importance of discipline when discussing practice. It was a legitimate and expected question. I knew that I would discuss discipline in a later blog and in what I believe is its proper context. Meaningful and sustainable discipline (commitment to a practice) is born of a love and passion for an activity. Long-term contrived discipline often breeds resentment and bitterness. I have met many individuals over the years who had music lessons (mostly Piano) thrust upon them as children. These lessons came with the understandable yet ill-advised insistence on regular practice (often of uninspiring, rudimental and mechanical chores). These adults express a sadness and regret for the loss of the opportunity to develop a genuine, natural and life-long desire to play a musical instrument. I was a very disciplined young student myself, but I was driven from within and not from my parents or teachers. I would relish in exceeding my teacher’s lesson assignments. My passion to learn and improve was greater than their expectations of me.
All along the way in this blog series, the idea of practice has been one and the same with teaching and learning. So, how do we excite our students or student-selves about practice on an ongoing basis? Well for one thing, role models have always been important to me. Whether they be your teachers, players that you hear on records, colleagues with whom you perform or people who demonstrate excellence in another field, it is important to have a vision for your potential. Being inspired by others is not only the spark plug to get our passion going but can be an awesome fuel to keep us moving toward our purpose.
You can jump start your passion. Initially, if you dedicate yourself to a pursuit and you experience pleasing and gratifying results, it can ignite curiosity and commitment. No one lifts weights for the fun of it. People enjoy how their bodies feel and look after a period of exercising. If there were no perceivable benefit to the doer, the activity would eventually have no appeal. Find the enjoyable aspects of any endeavor and you will excel at it. When you have learned to experience passion in everything you do, you will not dread any task. Passion feeds passion. What makes any project interesting and fulfilling is YOU and your committed participation and imagination.