Practicing on a "Macro" Level

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I was talking with a student the other day and was discussing practicing on a “macro” level instead of a “micro” level. Let me explain…when I was in college I thought that I had to learn everything immediately. It led me to practice absolutely everything on a “micro” level. Getting enough mastery on a concept just to meet the requirements of each semester. I realized that I wasn’t thinking about my practicing outside of the one or two weeks that my assignment was due and it led me to develop practice habits that made me feel inadequate when I couldn’t pull together an idea I was working on in a couple of different practice sessions. Don’t get me wrong, practicing on a “micro” level was helpful in many ways and taught me how to practice and focus on many concepts and ideas in a short amount of time, but it wasn’t helpful on the “macro” level.

What I mean by macro is this; sometimes in our practice we forget that the concepts, ideas, and techniques that we are practicing are things that will be under development for many, many years and possibly even the rest of our careers. Often, instead of enjoying that process and taking it slowly, spending time on the nuances and being patient with our struggles, we feel as though we have to rush the process and have some kind of product at the end of our couple of hours, weeks or months that we had set in our minds. We have a problem accepting where we are in our development and just coming to terms with the fact that we can’t be good at everything and it makes our practice time feel almost overwhelming.

Recently I’ve been trying to train myself and my students to think more long-term or more “macro.” To understand that while some concepts are perfectly ok to think in the short-term or “micro”, like prepping for an audition or repertoire for a concert, not all of our practice should be like that. There are some concepts like developing your sound, technique, facility and improvising that, in my opinion, should be approached with a lot more patience and understanding of where you are musically. I believe that when we allow ourselves to actively differentiate between the two that we can be more relaxed in our practice time and hopefully also enjoy it more!

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Anthony TaddeoComment