One year of practice

It’s been one year since I started practising the guitar regularly in November 2015.

Back then I envisioned spending two hours a day practising. On any one day, two hours might not seem much, but it’s not easy to repeat that day after day. There have been periods of several weeks when I didn’t pick up the guitar at all. That dragged my hours down. There has also been the occasional day when I’ve practised for much more than two hours. In April I began keeping a diary, recording what I did each day and how long I spent on my repertoire. From that I can say exactly how long I have spent practising: 1 hour 36 minutes a day. So I have fallen short of my target but have still managed a decent amount of practice.

Has all that time spent practising improved my musicianship? A resounding Yes! Fewer mistakes, better control of timbre, improved sight-reading, more critical listening. I’ve also refined my practice routine, increased the scope and difficulty of my repertoire, and amassed dozens of recordings that show improvement. Most importantly of all, I believe my playing is now more musical than it was a year ago.

So what’s not to like? Well, first, I haven’t committed as much to memory as I’d intended. I started off well, memorising every piece I was learning, but I soon got into the habit of moving on once I could play a piece by sight. You can hear the page turns in the recordings. Second, I suffer from performance anxiety while recording, even though I know I’m the only one listening and I can discard a poor recording and no one will be the wiser – what’s that all about? I’d like my playing to be more uninhibited. And third, I seem to be blessed with unbreakable nails, but even after a year I don’t know what the best shape for them is.

Am I as enthusiastic as I was when I started? I would say so. Enthusiasm waxes and wanes though. There are times when I don’t feel like playing and, at least for an amateur like me, I think it’s a good idea not to play then. I don’t want to start thinking of practice as a chore. Other times I am much more diligent. How to cultivate that diligence?

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