Practicing: The Cure for Everything?

[5/13/08 editing note: I corrected the spelling in the title; I’m sure “pracricing” (as I had mistyped) is great, but I don’t know what it is!]

The supportive comments responding to my last post are much appreciated.

During the brief period I had the privilege of studying with Leonard Rose, I discovered that his advice regarding almost any challenge in life was more practice. When I transferred to Juilliard from the North Carolina School of the Arts, I experienced the big-fish-in-little-pond becomes little-fish-big-pond syndrome, and was depressed. “Practice like hell and get good,” Mr. Rose told me. He had escaped “that hell hole of Miami” and got himself to the Curtis Institute that way. “And now,” he explained, pointing out the obvious in his endearingly and amusingly (to his students) self-praising manner, “I am a very big fish.”

And that seemed to be his answer for everything. Couldn’t get a date? Practice, get good, and girls will want to go out with you (I didn’t have the nerve to tell him it was guys I wanted to go out with). Not enough money? Practice like hell, get good, and you’ll get hired for more gigs.

Fast forward thirty-plus years to my first session with my new therapist. After listening to my list of sandwich-generation care taking responsibilities, she asked what I was doing to take care of myself.

I was stumped.

Reminding me that at the start of a flight we are told to put our own air masks first, before assisting others, because passed out we’d be of no use to anyone, she assigned me homework, to come up with something to do for me.

So I decided to start practicing regularly. Including scales and bow exercises and vibrato exercises as well as music my students are working on and, of course, works I’m preparing to perform. It’s required some discipline and boundary setting. And it has done wonders.

I went into music because I feel the most alive, the most myself, when I am playing. When I am playing well, I feel fundamentally good about myself, no matter whatever else is going on in my life.

It turns out Mr. Rose was right. Depressed? Practice like hell and get good. (Or better.) It works.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Practicing: The Cure for Everything?

  1. Gottagopractice

    Profound.

    I feel sorry for all those people who have to run or meditate to get a glimpse of what we find in the practice room. All that time, and what do they have to show for it?

  2. Elaine Fine

    Well said, Eric.

  3. sarah

    thanks for this

  4. Ran

    I went into music because I feel the most alive, the most myself, when I am playing. When I am playing well, I feel fundamentally good about myself, no matter whatever else is going on in my life.

    Beautifully said. Thank you.

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