Why Do We Practice?

Why do we practice?  At the surface, the answer is obvious: we practice to get better, right?  But what does it mean to get better?  Better than we are today?  Better than the guy in the band we saw last night?  Is that what it means?

A few weeks ago, there was some gunk going around and I caught a case.  Fever, cough, hydrant nose, and so on… the usual, boring drama.  Although I hated it, for a day or three, I couldn’t even think about picking up a guitar. 

Of course as soon as the worst of it had passed, I had a guitar in my hands again.  But I could tell I hadn’t been practicing.  My hands didn’t do the right things.  My music felt stiff.  Stupid, even.  I wondered about that.  I mean it had been only a couple of days.  After some thought, t seemed to me that the problem wasn’t purely physical. 

Now you can assign any label to this effect you like.  In my personal cosmology, I imagine that we have nonphysical as well as physical qualities.  I imagine our nonphysical qualities to be very close to the essence of light and music – or maybe vice versa.  Whatever: I imagine that this nonphysical aspect influences our music to a great degree.  

Can it be that as we practice, we become less and less concerned with the dividing line between our physical being and our music?  Can it be that as we practice, this division melts?  If so, it would mean that the vehicle of our physical skill, together with our instruments, serve to transmit the spirit of our music.  Thus, when finely tuned, our physical skill provides a significant -- occasionally transcendent -- experience to both our audiences and ourselves. 

So I think that maybe when I had my cold and didn’t practice, that that division became stronger.  It became something of a barrier to my musical expression.

This would imply that we practice, not so much that we can become better, but rather so that we can release into the world that which makes up our spiritual nature, namely, music with soul.  It seems that we practice so that we can let the musical ideas inside each of us get out unencumbered by our physical selves. 

Thus we practice so that we become, in a sense, invisible.  We practice so that all the listener experiences is the music.  Of course this has implications for how we practice as well as why.  I’ll have to think about that some more

© Michael C. Glaviano 2009 - 2016