Thought #3 on music practice

Let me share another small thought on my journey at the drumset.

Preparing drum rudiments infographic

I am following Drumeo’s blog with avid interest and am very glad to Jared and its team for the free lessons from so many different drummers. Today I picked a one-hour long lesson on a topic I was not especially interested in, but as my habit, I watched it anyway (with the same spirit that I taste new food and read books – how I can decide beforehand that they are not interesting?). I noticed myself moving the focus on the content of the lesson to the way the drummer-lecturer talked, played, answered questions. I had a great hour watching that man totally at ease, shining with calm happiness.

After that lesson I played a bit on my exercise pad, not very much, but I have been more focused on my movements than other days, especially while playing a special metronome exercise that lets the metronome play for two bars, then keeps it silent for two bars, then play again. The difficulty is to keep the time when the metronome is silent, and land on the first beat of the metronome when it starts again. I noticed that if I took care of keeping the amplitude of movements regular, I was also able to meet accurately the metronome when it came back. That was the key. There is little contribution from any mental skill, just a round movement, that I calibrate when the metronome ticks. Of course the difficulty of the exercise can pose a challenge, therefore practice on the movement is required. But yes! What a change of perspective. I wasn’t often told that the movement generates the time/speed of a piece – or maybe I wasn’t able to understand, at that time.

So my focus now is to get that fluency in my movements. It derives that other things are less important. Playing at concerts, for example. There will be more about that on a future post.



On time visualisation

Last year I experimented a bit with visualisation of time, both past and future. I was not really happy with agendas: one page per day doesn’t give enough overview, one week per page misses the monthly overview, one month per page doesn’t allow to zoom over my occasionally very busy days. I don’t find electronic formats and programs especially useful either. Now my present setup is: online calendar with all appointments and monthly view, and a simple paper notebook where I use a page a day with all the things I plan to do that day. I also have a blackboard with colour chalks where I write down what I want to do that is not yet allocated in time, or I didn’t manage to do that day. I have cyclical checks of what is to be done in next weeks/months and fill my brain RAM accordingly.

(Do have a look at Pretty Pretty Planners, from Calvin Was Right. I find them so cute!)

Still, this setup misses an overview of the whole year. Therefore, two years ago we used the Berlin transportation yearly calendar: an A3 sheet, with one line per month and one yellow dot per day. We hanged it in our kitchen and marked each passing day with a cross.

For 2015 I wanted to have more content for each passed day, so I bought a plain A3 light cardboard sheet, completely black. I then replicated previous year’s layout and created a table, with a cell for each day and a row for each month. Every day I had fun drawing the most relevant event of they day, or simply the day number. It ended up as a very colourful picture of the whole year.

As last year I made a lot of changements in my life, I felt the need to see where I was and where I was going, with the broadest perspective possible: so I made a A3 calendar of my whole life. The inspiration came from Tim Urban of Wait but Why.

I don’t post pictures here as it would be too easy to grab content out of it; but the overall feeling I got when I filled it with my school milestones, the countries I lived in, the big events, the big decisions, and see where on that piece of paper was my today, was the same feeling you get when you see Earth from space. It looks meaningful, gracious, finite. And you see the space around it. There is no such perception when you struggle on its surface | with everyday battles. From space you don’t see the dust, the details, the disasters (except the very big ones), the anxiety of all life forms. I highly recommend to do a similar calendar, especially if you have already several years to fill, and take time in observing it, as if it was someone else’s life. I have come back to my everyday chores with much more perspective – and therefore serenity.