Mental approach to practice and performance



  • Hi All!
    A lot has been written about equipment and technique but little has been reported when it comes to mental preparedness. What's required? Can I buy it? Does it come in a cream or lotion? Will I need my parent's permission?
    One of the first variables is motivation but how does one establish motivation?
    Its great to want to play the trumpet or do something but that will only take a person so far. Soon the honeymoon period is over and we lose interest. That's why it's important to have goal, or a vision that directs a person's way. Say for example you establish the goal of playing one of Bach's Sarabands or Gigues. By establishing hard but achievable goals ( 5 measures at a time) a person can accomplish the vision of conquering one of Bach's pieces. However, cutting Bach into bite sized sections to learn is only part of the picture in developing the motivation to get the task done. Picking a particular time(s) of the day to rehearse and sticking to those times is key. We are creatures of habit and once we do the same thing at the same time for a period of time, it becomes etched into the things we do everyday and we become compelled to practice at that particular time. Will there be times when you don't want to practice? Absolutely! However, it is those times that we must practice and when we do, there's a sense of satisfaction in that the chore out of the way or at least that's how it works for me. An old saying that fits this topic goes something like this; "Once a person truly commits to something, the Universe conspire to assist them." The magic word is "Truly". Remember, they call it playing but it's not a game. When a person sits to practice they need to take it seriously. No cell phones, TV, etc. and truly work. A person's achievement will be a direct reflection of their commitment to the goal. This also affects a person's settled way of thinking about something also known as their attitude towards something. Instead of an attitude of "Wow, this sucks and I don't want to do it" to "Hey, I need to go practice" is a matter of he attitude towards the issue. The difference? One person "has to" practice where the other person "wants to" practice. This type of attitude is established over time by setting a vision, practicing at regular times and taking practice seriously. At some point the person develops a vested interest in trumpet.



  • I would have a hard time responding to this because music and practicing have been a part of my life for over a half of a century. A retort that has stuck with me for decades was Dave Liebman's observation that, "Practicing isn't something you like or don't like. It's just something you do".

    I practice, pretty much every day at the same rough time. Routine.
    I just have goals and back up from them, so that everything I do moves towards that goal.

    Good words.



  • Excellent subject, Dr-Mark. Like Kehaulani , under normal conditions I have always practiced every day at the same time ( technical stuff in the am and tunes in the pm, and it is never a chore, just something I do every day. And it is always hard when I have to miss practicing, like I will have to do for the next two weeks.



  • @Kehaulani said in Mental approach to practice and performance:

    I practice, pretty much every day at the same rough time. Routine.
    I just have goals and back up from them, so that everything I do moves towards that goal.


    Yes! to do otherwise leaves a person in limbo not knowing what way to go. Another variable that gets in the way is constantly practicing stuff that a person already knows. Granted its better than not playing at all but some do get stuck playing the same old stuff over and over but if that's their goal, then good for them. I've even found myself regressing back. I was working on a particularly hard Bach piece and occasionally I'd drift off and start improvising. Granted, I could stay in improvise mode for the entire practice session but I'm just fooling myself and basically running from my new dragon that needs conquering. I then (when I realize what's happening) get back in the saddle and work the Bach.



  • My goal is to channel my inner Till Bronner!

    No SERIOUSLY, playing EVERY DAY is not a goal, it's a passion. The horn connects me to my emotions. It's my daily therapy, and a hell of a lot cheaper than a psychologist (or psychiatrist) [No offense Dr. Mark]. Why would't someone want to be more in touch with their inner self? That is what trumpet playing brings to me... and to play in front of other's to share my joy and try to channel the audience... well then that is another level of pleasure.

    So when I leave the office in the evening I tell my colleagues, "Will I'm heading home to blow my brains out..." and THAT'S a good thing!



  • Always remember and never forget:
    Practice makes perfect, but nobody's perfect so why practice?

    Answer: Because if you THINK you have reached perfect, you have let yourself down as then you settle to where you are. It is my theory that there is always as better place. So that when you reach your goal, it's time to set a new goal... so you get better... and better... and better...



  • @Dr-GO said in Mental approach to practice and performance:

    No SERIOUSLY, playing EVERY DAY is not a goal, it's a passion. The horn connects me to my emotions. It's my daily therapy . . Why would't someone want to be more in touch with their inner self? That is what trumpet playing brings to me... and to play in front of other's to share my joy and try to channel the audience... well then that is another level of pleasure.

    I liken musical discovery to stubbing one's toes in the sand and digging up what you stumbled on, only to find out that, with continual uncovering, that little pointed thing you are uncovering becomes the tip of Cheops' pyramid. It just keeps getting bigger and more substantial. That's both the frustrating thing about musical discovery - it never ends - and the beautiful, never-ending challenge of it.



  • @Dr-GO said in Mental approach to practice and performance:

    It's my daily therapy, and a hell of a lot cheaper than a psychologist (or psychiatrist)


    You sure got that right! When students ask me questions about things that are bothering them that's not personal such as study habits, test preparation, what is zoophilia, I'll do my best to help them. If its something personal, I ask if they go to church and if they do, they might want to speak to their padre or priest, before sinking a wad of money on a person who is either going to put them on a psychotropic drug they don't need or help them help themselves. Priests and padres are a lot cheaper and their confidence can be as trusted as that of a psychologist or psychiatrist. If they don't go to church I head them towards student counselling. In Florida if a person threatens suicide or harming someone, we can Baker Act them.
    Unfortunately, we don't have a mental health facility big enough to harbor us from the impending monster called Dorian. Living in Florida is beautiful except when its not and when its not, its usually dangerous.



  • @Dr-GO said in Mental approach to practice and performance:

    Answer: Because if you THINK you have reached perfect, you have let yourself down as then you settle to where you are. It is my theory that there is always as better place. So that when you reach your goal, it's time to set a new goal... so you get better... and better... and better...


    I'm a little different. I'll have moments where (for lack of a better description) I move myself. They are rare but always pleasurable. I usually set my horn down when it happens and say to myself "Damned! I couldn't have stated that any better"



  • @Dr-Mark said in Mental approach to practice and performance:
    ...what is zoophilia.

    I was convicted of that the last time I visited the zoo. They through me in the primate cage!



  • @Dr-GO said in Mental approach to practice and performance:

    I was convicted of the the last time I visited the zoo. They through me in the primate cage!


    If Tarzan & Jane didn't mind, why should the local authorities?



  • @Kehaulani said in [Mental approach to practice]

    the frustrating thing about musical discovery - it never ends - and the beautiful, never-ending challenge of it.

    Oh, man, that is soooo true !



  • @Dr-GO said in Mental approach to practice and performance:

    No SERIOUSLY, playing EVERY DAY is not a goal, it's a passion.


    Uh Oh! I think we have a trumpet junkie on board. I'm not sure what the rehab would be for this type of addiction. But seriously, you've practiced and performed for so long that trumpet is as much a part of your life as anything else. Yes! its therapy for me too! I've even noticed that I get cranky, my sinuses will begin to slightly hurt, and I find myself whistling exercises if I have to be away from my horn. Interestingly, when my sinuses hurt a little from not playing the trumpet goes away when I play. No, air isn't escaping into my sinus area, my air flow is fine and I'm a stickler when it comes to playing with as little tension and force as possible. I chalk it up to that strange and frustrating condition known as me.



  • @Dr-Mark

    Yeah there is a little bit of all that stuff in me, so you understand what I am going through today, and for the next couple of weeks...☹



  • @GeorgeB said in Mental approach to practice and performance:

    Yeah there is a little bit of all that stuff in me, so you understand what I am going through today, and for the next couple of weeks...


    Just hang in there and when you feel right, start back soft and short sessions.
    By the inch its a cinch, by the yard it's hard



  • @Dr-Mark said in Mental approach to practice and performance:

    @GeorgeB said in Mental approach to practice and performance:

    Yeah there is a little bit of all that stuff in me, so you understand what I am going through today, and for the next couple of weeks...


    Just hang in there and when you feel right, start back soft and short sessions.
    By the inch its a cinch, by the yard it's hard

    You are so cool, Dr-Mark. If it wasn't for the fact I don't like needles, I would have that little saying tattooed on my forehead so that I'd see it every morning in the bathroom mirror...☺


Log in to reply