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Riley Music Academy Music Cast: Feel the Pain!

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Feel the Pain!

You may remember I wrote a blog last week about the monotonous automation of music practice and do you know what?  I actually inspired myself to do some proper work!

That was the positive aspect of last week… then came the pain!

I did something really stupid.  I challenged a friend of mine to some sort of musical duel as if we were medieval knights and instead of broadswords at dawn, we would bombard each other with bebop licks.  I thought the challenge would be so easy and sent him my first draft with an air of mild confidence. Then he sent me his version in return.  Holy crap was I far behind!  In a way it was good, because I knew I had to pull my finger out, but the next day, during my practice session, I fell into every trap imaginable and took the musical helter skelter to the pit of shattered dreams!

Here are some of the demons I fought on that pitiful Sunday (see if any ring true with you):

  1. Anger – I’m usually calm and easy going but every so often, when my fingers don’t play what I want them to play, I get mad.  Real mad!
  2. I’m not cut out for this / bad technique – I assume that because I’m not classically trained, I can’t do something.  As if all other musicians have perfect technique and somehow I’m some freak who has blagged his way this far with laughable finger agility
  3. I should have done this years ago / too old – This particular challenge has been on my list for about 15 years and I’ve avoided it all this time.  So rather than actually do it, I think that the ship has sailed
  4. My ear isn’t good enough - again, I imagine that all other musicians must have super smart ears that can identify any interval and can immediately recreate any tune (you hum it, I’ll play it, sort of thing)
  5. It’s too fast - the classic pitfall. I attempted the task at full speed (c.240BPM) with terrible results.  Then I chose a more obtainable tempo (120BPM) and wept as I was so far away from 240!
  6. I must need new equipment – well…it can’t really be my fault!  Can it?  My action is too heavy.  I have been playing this instrument for a long time now, maybe I should find something more fit for purpose
  7. Why bother - so what if I’ve had this on my list for 15 years, I’ve obviously not needed it.  Maybe I should just play to my strengths
  8. Everyone else can do it and I cant – okay, so I’m hitting rock bottom now!  I start to imagine all my musical friends playing this insane tune with ease and glancing over at me with disdain
  9. Distractions – my kids are joyfully playing LEGO Batman on the Playstation.  Maybe they need help with it.  Also…. I’m hungry!

Have you experienced any of these issues?  Do you feel my pain?

Music is a wonderfully joyful art form but at times it really sucks!  You have to ride the rollercoaster, be prepared to be tenacious and work hard.

Its now Thursday and things are looking up for my challenge already.  The scars of Sunday’s practice session are still visible, but I have hope as my learning curve is trending upwards and I’ve improved a lot in a short time.

So that just leads me to my final bit of (perhaps slightly surreal) advice for this week…

Choose you opponent

Setting yourself challenges is a great way of digging deep and getting some work done.  Choose your opponent carefully though:

The Pond Fish – If you want your ego massaged then nothing is better than being a big fish in a small pond.  Challenge people who are beneath you in skill level and feel smug when you win!  Win prediction – in the bag!

The Snail – Someone who chips away very slowly at the task but reaches incredible results.  If you dither and procrastinate then this opponent will eventually hand it to you.  Win prediction – unlikely, unless you pull you finger out

The Bullfrog – the daddy of all tasks.  Challenging this opponent will lead to misery and you will quickly lose motivation.  Win prediction – “Pain”*

*deviating from my usual Star Wars references; I’ve decided to quote Clubber Lang from Rocky III

The Dragonfly – majestic, inspirational and with superior skills but will lead you to your goal and not ridicule you in the process.  By challenging this opponent you will not only achieve your task but will you will both be better people for it.  Win prediction – ultimate victory    

Comment below – I’d love to hear your opinion (I read them all)


2 Comments Add a Comment
  1. Andrew Gibbs
    February 11, 2016

    Ha ha, it’s a relief that those demons are not just sitting on my shoulders. They obviously get around.

    Thanks for the reassurance/ encouragement.


    • Jay
      February 11, 2016

      Thanks Andrew

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