It's not uncommon to see everyone looking for some kind of quick fix.
Don't we all want to feel more rested without having to actually give up more hours to sleep, be fitter without having to exercise more, or be better at something without having to sacrifice hours and hours a day?
Fast food, food delivery services, Cliff Notes....all kinds of things around us tell us that we can be better for almost little or no effort.
I'm not buying it.
If you are a musician at any level, you may already know (or at least suspect) that there is no replacement for putting it in the work. One of my teachers growing up called it "woodshedding" (I actually still use this term a lot - I like it's meaning, but I also like it because it makes my students look at me like I have two heads.)
Basically, if you want to get something tough done, you've got to take it out to the "shed" (somewhere you're by yourself), make a mess, and get it done.
Still, we often take shortcuts without even realizing it, and I would argue it's because they are prevalent in our culture. We don't exactly value you things that require us to be there for the long haul before we see results.
In teaching, I find this is something that I really have to show my students. Most of us are impatient in some way, but they are growing up in an impatient era. So we often do the work together - our "woodshedding" is communal. I think that they need to really experience the positive outcomes of doing the work to be willing to do it in their own practice time.
In my own practice, I sometimes have to remind myself that if I stop checking my email or thinking about that meeting I have tomorrow and just spend the half hour or hour I need on a technical piece with the metronome, all of my subsequent practice will be better, more productive and progress more quickly.
A side note here: I'm not talking about spending hours and hours aimlessly. What I'm talking about is slowing down and taking the time necessary for intentional practice and practice methods.
I was reminded of this while working on a piece this week that has a lot of scale patterns in unusual modes - they were both not in my fingers or in my ears, and the only way to get them there was to woodshed. I took the tempo WAY down (by half!), worked in small groups, then slightly larger groups, then just slightly quicker in small groups and then slightly larger groups, and so on.
Two days later, I can hear where the piece is going and it lays well in my fingers. Had I not done that tedious work I would still be banging my head against the stand trying to go fast, learning a bunch of bad habits, and not making any real progress. (Admittedly, I made most of the progress on the second day - things take time to sink in, even when we do it right!)
In the world of auto-tune, filters, fast food and endless distractions, sometimes we all need the reminder that: There is no substitute for doing the work with intention.
Hi, I'm Morgann! Flutist, teacher, aspiring yogini, and life long learner figuring out how to create my way through life one crazy idea at a time.