I recently watched a
on Youtube all about Kendo masters in Japan. For those of you who don't
know Kendo, it's the Japanese art of Sword fighting, what would have
been the Samurai long ago.
What on earth has that got to do with music I hear you ask?
Actually, quite a lot.
The documentary was about an hour long, and it showed the build up to the 8th Dan gradings that take place twice a year in Japan.
What was interesting was this..
To even be accepted to TAKE the exam, you have to have been a 7th Dan for 7 years, and you have to be a minimum of 48 YEARS OLD!!
There were guys there in their 80's taking the exam, and had been taking it for about 20 years in a row and failing 20 years in a row.
Still they practiced daily, and came back year after year.
What can WE learn from this?
1) Discipline. How often do we actually practice the important things?
One of the guys on the documentary practised just ONE single strike for an hour per day. If he can do it,
so can you, and gues what, you're going to be pretty damn good at something if you practice it for an
hour each day!
So even when your
"seems" boring, just remember the long term goal, and focus on that. I
violinist the other day that was absolutely amazing. I asked him how long he'd been playing, and how long
it took him to join an orchestra.
It took him 11 years to
be good enough to join an
orchestra and he's now been playing for around 47 years. Guess what....
He STILL practices his scales. That's why he's so good.
2) Patience. In the West, we always want the quick fix and the instant result. Sometimes, the ONLY way to get good at something is practice, practice, practice and practice some more.
If you're getting frustrated with your composing or music skills, just remember the little old 80 year olds that have been doing the same moves for DECADES.
And think about the violinist. Would YOU wait 11 years to get good at something?
Did you know that you
even need your instrument to practice?
Many professional athletes and musicians practice IN THEIR MIND the moves and techniques that they want to master.
It's a scientific FACT that your brain cannot distinguish between what happens inside your mind, with what happens out in the real world.
The same neurological pathways are fired when you do something in your mind, as when you do something for real. This is why when we think about things that were sad, we sart to feel sad, and when we think about happy times, we smile.
Here's a little routine you can do to get even better at your music.
1) When you get into bed, decide on ONE thing you want to improve
on your instrument or composing skills.
2) Spend just five minutes, mentally rehearsing it, MAKING SURE
YOU PRACTICE IT PERFECTLY IN YOUR HEAD WITH NO MISTAKES.
3) Make sure that when you do your mental rehearsal, you are associated
into the image. Basically what this means, is that you feel yourself
doing it, rather than looking at an image with yourself in the image
(I hope that made sense).
4) Repeat daily.
5) See how much of a difference it makes in your playing/writing
The great thing about this exercise, is that you can apply it to
any area of your life that you want to improve.
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