Posts Tagged practice

Practice Plan for 2016

I heard a TED talk or something that said that if you have a personal goal then the last thing you should do is to tell someone about it. The reason they gave was that the act of telling someone your goal gives your brain the same warm fuzzies that you get from actually accomplishing the goal. As a result, New Year’s resolutions never work because once you share them, then you loose the internal motivation to get them done. That being said, I want to share one of my resolutions in the hopes that this post will sabotage the whole thing.

My resolution is to practice my guitar more and with more purpose. As a professional musician, I play the guitar all the time but I’ve not really practiced in any focused way since college. Here’s the general plan that I’ve come up with to practice about 30 minutes, 4 times a week.

Monday – Reading practice

Tuesday – Transcription

Thursday – Tunes and Repertoire

Friday – Scales & Technique

I started last week by reading through the lessons in William Levitt’s Method Book 1. I’m transcribing Charlie Christian’s solo from Seven Come Eleven. For tunes last week, I worked on memorizing the head to “Seven Come Eleven” and “Freddie The Freeloader.” Then for scales I pulled out a textbook from college, Jerry Bergonzi’s book on Pentatonics. 

If you are a jazz player or any other kind of pro for that matter, this might seem pretty light, but I’m just trying to wade back into this so cut me some slack.

Gee, it felt good to share that with you. Now, where’s my phone? I need to go back to playing Subway Surfers.

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How to prepare for a big performance

This weekend, we’re putting on a big show. I know there’s a lot of folks who will shudder at the use of such crass terms. However, I want to be clear that musicians have to prepare for a worship service in the same way that we do a recital or a concert. We have to strengthen our voices, to train our hands, to focus our minds. Artists are given special gifts by God to do amazing things, but those gifts manifest themselves in ways that look just like learning to read, write or speak. We have to discipline our minds and bodies to produce skilled music expression. So for the musicians who lead God’s people in worship, the first and most important preparation for worship is to actually practice your part. Maybe that seems un-spiritual. The truth is that music is work and work takes…work. You have to invest time and energy in order to do it well. If you opt to spend your Friday night in prayer and fasting, you will have a mind focused on God’s wonderful grace and power, but it will not make you play the guitar better on Saturday. For worship musicians, practicing your instrument must become a spiritual act of service and devotion.

Here’s another way to think about it: loving your neighbor is expressed in action not in “spiritual” thoughts. If you see a neighbor in need and you don’t take action to help them, then you are not loving them. Faith and love are nothing if they are not expressed. Practice and preparation for worship is an act of love and faith. It’s love because you are putting the needs of your neighbor ahead of your own. Your preparations are not for your benefit but for the benefit of your neighbor who needs you to lead. If you are ready to go, then by all means sit down and rest, but if you know that you have work to do, then get in the wood shed and practice – out of love. Practice is an act of faith because you are acknowledging that your work is not in vain. Investing time in the work of worship is expressing faith that the kingdom of God is real and that Jesus is Lord. We can give our lives away as living sacrifices because we know that our lives have been redeemed for the purposes of the kingdom.

But…

The battle is not ours to fight. Well executed music does not change hearts from self-worship to God-worship. My pastor has been sharing with us about the book of Joshua and it’s got me thinking about our job as worship musicians. Joshua is a book about the conquest of Canaan. In most historical writings, a book of conquest would include battle strategy. Reading the Iliad, you get lots of descriptions of people’s heads getting split open and the glorious power of the warrior. In Joshua, you read about the glorious power of Jehovah being demonstrated. The battle strategy of Joshua is stuff like, march around for seven days and then blow a trumpet or make the sun stand still in the sky. Joshua’s army had to be ready to fight with training and equipment, but they were God’s instruments being used to win God’s victory. After you are practiced and prepared for battle, be ready to see the glory of God demonstrated in ways you can’t even imagine or prepare for.  God’s called you into this act of service, but the movement of his kingdom is one that will proceed whether you are ready or not. It’s a miraculous demonstration of power that envious, self-obsessed, vain, fearful, cynical, melancholic, and boastful musicians can be redeemed for the purpose of serving at the front lines of the Lord’s army.

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