I was never particularly enthusiastic about practicing. Even into my grad school years, I probably spent more time every day creatively procrastinating and avoiding practicing than I spent actually practicing.
Case in point, one of the reasons why I was so well-read as a kid, was that reading was a parent-endorsed activity (vs. watching TV). I learned that being in the middle of a book seemed to reduce the frequency of reminders to practice, so I always had a book handy. Until they wised up to…
by Noa Kageyama, Ph.D.
Like every good student, I dutifully (though grudgingly) practiced my scales from an early age.
Of course, once I was old enough to practice unsupervised, I happily avoided scales as often as I could get away with it. Like taking my vitamins, it was something that I knew would be good for me, but I wasn't sure exactly why.
It wasn't until I was in my 20's, that the lights went on, and I discovered why I should have been practicing scales all along.
So why are scales and etudes worth our time?
For much of my life, I thought that being "musical" was a matter of operating by intuition and instinct.
Playing louder or softer because it felt right. Taking more or less time because it seemed to make sense.
That served me pretty well for a while, until one day I had to learn an unfamiliar piece of music for which there existed no recording, and I struggled.
For once, it seemed that simply feeling the music and going with whatever naturally came out wouldn't get me to where I wanted to go.
Earlier this year, I stumbled across a restaurant which serves the best chicken tikka masala ever. It was so good, that one day, I ate it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Of course, I quickly ruined things by eating it so frequently that it ceased to be the magical concoction of chicken and spices it started out as, and slowly turned into blah. Chunks of blah, garnished with julienned blah and finely chopped blah, in a sauce of blah.
We've all experienced something like this in our lives.…