Brian's Guitar Journal / Practice Tips

Day 112 : Soul Suckin’ Jerk

Some days my morning practice sessions are full of amazing discoveries and staggering breakthroughs that make me really excited to be doing the kind of work I’m doing. The rewards are so satisfying that most days I jump out of bed before dawn and can’t wait to get into it.

Today is NOT one of those days. Don’t get me wrong. I still got up. I got straight to work. But after a few minutes I could tell it just wasn’t happening. I had trouble staying focused. My hands were all over the place. Instead of thinking about how I could add more challenges or musicality to the exercises, I was watching the clock and basically dragged my guitar over the finish line.

Inevitably, and often without warning, these “off” days happen. These are the days where good musicianship is truly earned. If making music was all non-stop fun and excitement, our music would be weak and shallow. Even though a great many people want the ability to make music, days like today are a sort of natural barrier that restrict entry even to some truly passionate people. The feeling you get after a bad performance or even a bad day of practice (where you feel like your actually getting worse) certainly makes me want to quit, and many people do just that. That’s why it’s important to make long term commitments. I don’t feel good about how today went, but I’m certainly not going anywhere because I’m committed to sticking this out. I just have to wait until tomorrow.

I think it’s important to hold yourself to a high standard if you want to see good results in your work. But it’s also important to give yourself a reasonable break once in a while. I mean, it’s not like I’m taking the day off or anything. I still came in and put my hours in. Hopefully that still counts for something. Luckily for me, days like today are infrequent.

I say that “off” days show up with no warning, but today kind of makes sense. This is the end of a long week at the end of a long month. I’ve been doing the exact same practice routine for the past 22 days in row, so it’s feeling pretty stale and needs to be revised. Even the weather outside is cloudy and kind of gross. Also, I should step back and realize that I’m coming off a few weeks in a row of tremendous progress that has spoiled my expectations to the point where a normal day seems dull and difficult.

There also are a few external things that I know I should be doing better to ward off days like today. I think of them as the big 3: eating, sleeping and exercising. I’m currently not doing any of them as well as I have in the past. Last night I stayed up too late watching “Generation Kill” so I didn’t get enough sleep. Yesterday I started the day by eating a spaghetti burrito at 5:30am (thank god no one reads this blog), so yeah nutritionally I must be in a pretty bad place right now. I think I did the elliptical on Monday or Tuesday for like 15 minutes and that was my big push to get back on top after several weeks of no exercise. Really firing on one cylinder (the music cylinder) is not sustainable.

Perhaps the last thing I need to do better is simply not dwell on this kind of negative stuff. Maybe even choosing to write this post wasn’t such a good idea. Well, it’s not like any other cool ideas came to me today, it was either this or no blog post at all. Anyway it’s written now so I can move on with the rest of today and hopefully come in tomorrow swinging harder than ever!

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