It was easy to practice when I was in music school. My major required me to show continued progress each week in rehearsals, lessons, and performances.
I knew that there was an expectation I would be prepared and playing better at each rehearsal, so I went straight to the practice room every day, usually first thing in the morning before there was so much chaotic distraction from other practicing students.
When I have a gig coming up, it's easy to practice. I squeeze it in between lessons, listen to pieces I'm going to perform while I do other tasks. No problem, there is a deadline ahead to be ready for.
When I'm not a student, there are no performances, AND there is a global pandemic, it's harder to prioritize practice. Oh, I'll do it later.....well, I could answer those emails....whoops it's time to teach.
Usually if this happens I have a lot of guilt for being lazy or unorganized, but I actually think it's deeper than that.
I have played the flute long enough to know that if I start to play and really (I mean REALLY, like no phone in the room really) get focused I will feel better. Not because I'm proud of myself or busy thinking how great I am, or how I'll win some audition, or "look at me I'm so productive" - no, better because it is amazing to focus on just one thing. One physical thing that can be almost meditative when you get into your practice groove.
So, why do I avoid practice and then give myself guilt trips?
Because when there isn't a goal on the horizon, practice takes on a whole different spin. You can start to think, what's the point? I have nothing to prepare for. Or, you start to wonder what opportunities could even exist in the future (this is a strange time, after all).
Newsflash: the future is none of your business.
You have no way of knowing what tomorrow, next month or ten years from now will bring (if you do know that you should be making millions on predictions and not pursuing a music career!).
We cannot base our lives on desperately planning for or imagining things that are completely out of our control (please note, this is different than having goals). This will only leave us constantly distracted and desperately grasping at whatever thought or project looks most tangible.
Now is when sheer willpower needs to take over. Not the kind of willpower where you wait for inspiration to strike, but the kind you build through taking consistent daily actions. The willpower you have because you know what is best for yourself.
The pandemic won't last forever. You won't lack for somewhere to perform forever. How can you stay in touch with yourself and your music if you don't explore, play and keep moving?
This is the time to do it anyway.