Note: This post was originally published on my other site, “Gig-Ready Jazz Bassist.”
Greetings! I’ve disappeared off the face of the internet for a bit, but hoping to be back soon (along with a shiny, new e-book). I’ve been busy writing, but I’ve also been getting serious about being minimalist – as well as applying this minimalism to my musical practice. For years, I’ve been preaching, “Practice smarter, not harder.” After struggling to come up with a concise definition, I’m sticking with the adage, “Smart practice is simple practice.”
In minimalism, they talk about how people over-consume to display wealth and status – bigger houses, nicer cars, more exotic vacations, etc. Because musicians don’t always have the income for such luxuries, our practice routines often become the markers of excess and status – 4-8 hours of playing every single scale, memorizing 500 tunes, and transcribing every recorded note of a certain artist.
There’s nothing wrong with this type of practice for those who enjoy it, but for most of us, it’s not feasible. Minimalism (or simplicity, essentialism, etc.) is about removing the unimportant to focus on the truly important things. To make sure that you’re only practicing essential material, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this practice activity improve my overall musicianship?
- Does it address a limitation or weakness in my playing?
- Does it better prepare me for performance (and will I use it in performance)?
If you don’t answer a hearty, “Yes!” to at least one of these questions, you should remove it from your practice routine and replace it with something better for your musical development. It’s as simple as that…