Don’t Wait for a Clear Path

We like certainty.

When we try something new, we want to know exactly what to expect.

How long will it take?

When will I be good at this?

Where will the challenges be?

I won’t look stupid in front of other people, right?

We want a clear path, but we don’t usually get one. The new and exciting experiences that make life interesting and vibrant involve some degree of risk and uncertainty.

Review: The War of Art

I’m going to be reviewing books on this blog from time to time. This post is a review of Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art .

If you read a lot of books, you might agree with me that they generally fall into three categories.

Why You Should Practice at the Airport

I get some of my best practicing done in airports. When I get to my gate, I look for a spot away from other people, pull out my trumpet and a practice mute, and get to work.

The first few times I did this, I felt really awkward. It seemed like everyone was looking at me (which they were). But I now look forward to airport practicing, and I’m publishing this post from 35,000 feet having just finished a great airport practice session.

Practicing on Low Motivation

Some days.

I had one this past Monday. All the little things and a couple big things went wrong, and it was a struggle just to get through the day. I did not want to practice the trumpet, but I pulled the horn out, made a little progress, and felt a little better. It was the lone bright spot on a dreary day.

We all have to deal with bad days and low motivation. Here are some ideas that help me!

It’s Not For You

Here’s the situation: you’re performing, doing your thing.

Your thing could be playing or teaching music, speaking in front of a group, writing a blog, or anything else. The specifics don’t really matter. What matters is that you’ve prepared, practiced, woodshedded, polished, and gotten your ducks in a row. You’re ready, and you’re not taking any prisoners.

So what do you do about the person who isn’t paying attention?

Better Jazz Practice

How do you practice jazz? Are you a noodler? I am.

When I work on jazz improvisation, I mostly noodle, running through several tunes aimlessly with a play-along track: “There Will Never Be Another You,” “Joy Spring,” “I’ll Close My Eyes,” etc. It’s fun, but there’s no focus, and I tend not to get much better this way.

Noodling is not a very efficient use of practice time, and it needs to go.

5 Reasons to Learn a Second Instrument

A year and a half ago, I took up the keyboard.

My piano background was pretty meager: three years of lessons in grade school and enough scattered practice in college to get a music degree. No chops to speak of, and I’m not being modest. I did spend some time working on jazz piano voicings in grad school, but I’ve never been anywhere close to being able to perform on the instrument.