So February is up and that means the 4 weeks of my self-inflicted music challenge have also come to an end.
I was aiming for 12 hours of music practice a week. How was Week 4′s effort?
Thanks to the 2nd day of Winterfest I almost cracked the 12 hour mark. And that’s even missing a day!
11 hours and 35 mins was achieved. So close! If I had been paying attention and tracking the time I would’ve made up that last 25 minutes. Or if I hadn’t skipped a day…. oh well…
Day 22: Autoharp 2 hrs; dulcimer 2 hrs, pennywhistle 1 hr
Day 23: dulcimer 15 mins; voice 15 mins
Day 24: voice 1 hr 45 mins
Day 25: dulcimer 15 mins; autoharp 1 hr 30 mins
Day 26: nil. What happened? Too tired and went to bed early.
Day 27: pennywhistle 45 mins
Day 28: dulcimer 1 hr 10 mins; autoharp 40 mins
Voice: 2 hours
Dulcimer: 3 hrs 40 mins
Pennywhistle: 1 hr 45 mins
Autoharp: 4 hrs 10 mins
And because it’s fun to do a pie chart I did one. After all, who can say no to pie?
Voice – not so much that’s noticeable. I’d need to be more consistent with the exercises (ie daily) to improve breath control.
Dulcimer: Definitely. Flat picking control has improved, ie hitting the right string without looking down all the time. Corresponding fingering while flat picking also improved. Chord positions not memorized, although I now have to include that 1.5 fret, so getting used to that. Sight reading of tab has improved. Beginning to relate standard music notation to the fretboard. Chop chords improved greatly – not perfected – but getting there.
Piano: Bass clef easier to read – not automatic though. Improvement in remembering the fingering for scales, small improvement in dexterity.
Pennywhistle: This was the surprise outsider – huge improvements made here, from memorizing fingering, slurring, to improved agility switching between certain notes. Upper register notes still iffy, but those very high ones are hard and I’m reluctant to go over and over them in an apartment.
Autoharp: Late entrant proved an easy instrument to see instant improvement. That is, I went from knowing nothing to being able to do some simple strum patterns and melodies of some simple tunes.
Ocarina: Only a 15 minute curiosity play. Managed to get pleasant sounds out of it. It smells funny though.
I’m glad I did it. All that forming good habits stuff works. It’s also encouraging to hear /feel the improvements after only 4 weeks.
I discovered these very important criteria/facts:
1. Instrument, music, music stand etc must be accessible and organized.
2. This means having organized spaces that are kept free of other clutter, including where I sit and where tab/sheet music is stored. Maintaining these spaces is ongoing.
3. Small chunks of time add up over the week.
4. Getting enough sleep is really important!
5. Practicing when tired is still doable, if all I do is some scales and technical exercises. I have energy for that, but no more energy to put into playing a tune. Go figure that one.
6. I used to do more vocal exercises all the time when pottering around. Why did I stop? Shouldn’t have stopped!
If anyone reading this suffers from guilt trips about not practicing enough. Don’t feel guilty, instead look at how you use your time and aim to change some of the daily habits. Yes, attending Winterfest certainly boosted the practice hours, but I discovered how pleasant and relaxing it is to do some practice after dinner and even better, how uplifting it is to practice in the early mornings before work. As long as it doesn’t make me late for work of course, practicing music puts me in a very cheerful mood to start the work day.