I am currently reading a book by Eric Maisel called The Power of Daily Practice: How Creative and Performing Artists (and Everyone Else) Can Finally Meet Their Goals. He offers a very specific approach to establishing a routine that is regular and rewarding, and can apply to various ways of self-improvement, career, personal, etc. The book is divided into three parts:
- The elements of practice (there are twenty!)
- The types of practices you can undertake
- The challenges to establishing a daily practice
Of the twenty elements of practice, some are lovely and fun and are what got you started on your practice in the first place, but a few are hard and take effort, and those are the ones that might result in your abandoning your practice because it’s just too much WORK.
The one that struck me was the element of repetition. This is a part of practice that is difficult for even the most dedicated practitioner. The act of repeating things over and over to make them better. It’s part of the whole “Practice makes Perfect” mindset, that you have to practice something over and over till you get it right (really, the better approach is to practice till you can’t get it wrong). But it’s tedious! It’s boring, and mind-numbing, and sucks the soul of my performing. I don’t wanna!
What if, instead of approaching our practice as having to do something over and over again, with the idea that there is an endpoint at which we’re going to perfect, we approach it as a new “ask.” As a petition, a request, an intention. So that when we run a passage over and over again, we are asking for something specific to happen as a result of this effort. For example:
Today, I will sing this passage in “Cruda sorte” and ask myself [or the coloratura gods] to find the phrasing I need to make this clear, reproduce-able, and musical. Tomorrow, I may ask to try that same passage at different tempi, both slower and faster, so that I can adapt to whatever tempo the audition pianist decides to play on a particular day.
This is not the first time I have hyphenated a word to find meaning in it (see my 2020 Word of the Year).
There are many things in this book about which I can write – but first I have to finish it. I admit I’m a little stuck right now because I realized, in part III, that the author has a few points of view regarding subjects such as ADD, ADHD, anxiety, and depression with which I vehemently disagree and it’s causing me to question everything he’s written up to this point. But he is considered one of the foremost creativity coaches in the world, so I’m going to overlook our disagreements so that I can take what I need – and leave the rest.
Does the idea of “re-petitioning” sound interesting to you? Or am I grasping at straws here? I don’t think so, but I’d love to know what your approach might be to keep things fresh, whether it’s yoga, singing, exercise, meditation, or whatever. Drop me a comment below and let’s hear what you think.
Stay tuned for information on an upcoming panel discussion called “What To Know/What I WISH I’d Known About College Auditions,” coming up on June 30. You can find more information HERE
(and it’ll be the focus of Thursday’s blogpost)