You’ve got to attack it from the root, Sakari.

By Just Taken Pics on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

A recent blog post on The Artistic Brunette reminded me of how scattered my mind can be in the practice room. In spite of the fact that I was preparing for my junior recital this past February, I could not seem to resist irrelevant thoughts burrowing their way into my brain and popping up everywhere like gophers in a finely-manicured lawn. Even just a few measures in, I would find myself daydreaming in some fashion despite telling myself I wouldn’t do so immediately beforehand.

Kira encouraged me to break the habit of daydreaming while I play by stopping when I noticed it occur, that way I wouldn’t train myself that it was acceptable to play while doing so. By January though, the habit had become so deeply engrained that it was pretty difficult to break. I had been doing so for so long, in fact, that I hadn’t realized it was a problem until one day she pointed it out. Admittedly, that strategy hasn’t been in my practicing as much since the recital, so surely it has crept back in like a vicious weed, multiplying in its efforts to work against the labor I had put in previously. Looks like I plucked it up without annihilating the root, and that’s called sabotage.

If you haven’t picked up on it already, I have a tendency to forget what’s good for me. Back in high school, Mr. Braunstein used to encourage me to constantly think ahead while I was playing. If I was practicing a scale, I should “hear” the next note, for example. While playing a piece (especially by memory), I should think at least a phrase or two ahead of where I was at in the music. (The benefits of memorizing a piece are also a valuable tidbit that I’ve let go to the wayside.) Doing so prevented me from making “dumb” mistakes or letting technical issues catch me by surprise. However, in retrospect, I have realized that thinking ahead is also what prevented my mind from wandering so much, which I unfortunately make a habit of during my daily activities. Performance-readiness is just as much of a mental issue, if not more, than a technical one.

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