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  • James Danderfer

Yes, Practicing Should Be Enjoyable, If Not "Fun"


Good morning and welcome to the Sunday nowhere-near-Morning News Post!


Had a great time talking with my fellow musician and friend Geeta Das on the "Monday Noontime Instragram Chat" last week. The subject was, you guessed it, practicing. After talking about the nuts and bolts of what tools we like to have in the practice room (we agreed on metronome, timer, and mirror), having a good space to practice in (pro tip: a "good" space should have kinda "bad"/dry acoustics so you're forced to deal with your sound in less optimal settings), and how to stay focused, we eventually arrived at a question: "Why do we practice?"


The answer(s) can quickly get as deep as you like, as you start to ask "What is music?" and "Why are humans so connected to it?" and then of course "What does it all mean?!?"


But for our purposes, let's keep it simple: We practice for the enjoyment of music and to get better... so that, little by little, we may access even more joy/freedom in music. Notice, I will say "for the enjoyment" of it and not "for fun." It's semantics, really, but "fun" seems somewhat easy and shallow, while "enjoyment" just feels right to me.


I've heard some musicians (and great musicians at that) say that practicing should be neither fun OR enjoyable, and that it's just hard work. And I understand where they're coming from; if one is committed to achieving a high level of play, there is a lot of work to put it into it. However, as Geeta and I agreed, IF ITS NOT FUN/ENJOYABLE, YOU PROBABLY WON'T KEEP DOING IT. You will either give it up, or burn out, or "best" case scenario you keep playing and end up sounding, well... pretty burning, actually, but entirely joyless.


To be clear, when I get a chance to practice I'm not exactly jumping for joy about it. It's still work, and I still have to be very focused with whatever time I've got. But it's work which really engages me. After playing music for decades, I remain as curious as ever about it and I am excited to get better, and ONE of things I'm excited to see improve is my enjoyment of music. So, I keep that as a high priority in the back of my mind whenever I'm practicing.


Maybe you can relate? Maybe you've been burned out before? Feel free to write something in the chat; always love to hear from you.


Happy practicing and I'll see you next week... maybe even on Saturday Morning! Thanks for reading! JD


ps. I'll be playing the music of Artie Shaw at Frankie's Jazz Club this Sept 16/17. Swing on by!

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