“It sounded good to me.”
“I think that I was at 95%.”
“What?!? More like 15% correct.”
“We need to do it again.” ~ Friday Night, 6/20/2014
This was a conversation during band practice Friday night. Here we are, the physical embodiment of middle-aged men working on some music that we all know. Like the children we sometimes act like, the fault is never our own, but the next guy in the band. We, do, however, review the issues, practice the parts over and then can move on. This is not a unique scenario, but one that happens throughout the night…both in terms of the music and the vocals. As a band, we succeed or fail together as a group, not as individuals. I guess that I could play solo, like the time, in college, when my roommates walked in on me while I was playing the entire The Wall album, by Pink Floyd, on the accordion. That is right, on the accordion! In either case, practicing would need to occur.
Too often, we all wish that we could pick up a new skill and be instantly good at it. Some people believe that you have to do something 10,000 times to master a skill. I am not sure of the correct formula, but consistency and repetition do lead you in the right direction. There are songs that the band has worked on, we cheered when we reach our goal on that particular song, but needed to play every practice so that we maintained the level of play on that song. My daughter, Rebecca, just finished taking her last (hopefully) SAT. She did not open a study guide the night before to prepare for the test. She had a tutor, and then went to the Huntington Learning Center to practice over and over again in preparation. We often forget that as children, we had to constantly read, or practice (music, sports, etc.) to get better. As we get older and living in a world of instant gratification, we seem to lose the patients that it takes to improve.
There is a scene in the Three Stooges short “Disorder in the Court” where the boys break out different instruments – Moe on harmonica, Curly on bass and Larry on violin (which he really played). As you can expect, shenanigans pursue, including swallowing the harmonica and various slapstick gestures and the accompanying sound effects. There are times when I feel like our band practice was about to degenerate into such antics, due to loss of focus on a song, or frustration on not being able to find the right chords. We always take a deep breathe, play something else, then revisit the issue. Usually the break helps. While we enjoy the time together and the music we play, working towards and accomplishing something new always brings great satisfaction. We realize, however, that we are our own harshest critics. At each practice, we know who practiced during the week. As violinist Jascha Heifetz said, “If I don't practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it.”