Monday, February 28, 2011

The Discipline of Practice

The discipline of practice can be elusive for the busy artist... but as the virtuosic pianist Vladimir Horowitz famously said (and I paraphrase): "When I miss one day of practice, I notice a difference in my performance. When I miss two days, my fellow musicians notice. When I miss three days, the public begins to notice." When it comes to singing, muscles necessary for precise musical execution don't take long to atrophy, and so require regular workouts on a daily basis. Add to that the responsibility of performing a completely memorized program and the necessity of practicing becomes intensified. Further, the fact that I am constantly writing music, arranging songs and creating songlists or programs tailored specifically for each performance requires a regular investment of practice time in advance of each concert.

Over the years I have found ways to view my daily practice session as special time for me, like an hour spent at a spa, rather than an hour of drudgery and "homework." Concentrating on pleasant sensations connected with healthy singing, deep breathing work (akin to meditation) and body-conscious release of tension can keep me thinking about musical practice in a positive light.

Finally, practice of my material requires time-management, creativity and advanced planning. Because I currently present five different jazz/concert cabaret shows on a national level and occasionally work as a lyric soprano soloist as well (performing full-length baroque recitals and oratorio solo work), my practicing must incorporate the skills, music and memory work required for whatever presentation I'm scheduled to do next. This reality keeps me excited about practicing and diligent about the work I have to do. I am continually grateful for the positive results that come from focused, undistracted practice time and am blessed to enjoy a career that reaps the rewards of those sacred solitary hours!