Friday, June 21, 2013

Are we having fun yet?

At one point I was practicing compulsively, and it was getting to me. It was becoming an unwelcome grind. So I decided that I wouldn't practice at all unless I really felt like it. It surprised me when that lasted only a few days, because I realised that I liked practicing. So I practiced ... a bit. My practice schedule soon got longer and longer, but never to the point it had been at before. I still enjoy practicing, but if it feels at all like a chore I'll just fool around for a while or get off the drums completely and go do something else. 

That suggests to me that having fun is a factor that can enhance both my dedication and my productivity. Hmmm … so what else does ‘fun’ affect?

I've always believed that I learn better if I'm enjoying something. Education theory has finally caught up with that notion and now declares that learning should be fun! It seems that being anxious, fearful, irritated, bored, resentful, etc. is not conducive to learning. I know that my students do much better, learn more, and put a lot more effort into their work when they enjoy it. And I'm a pretty demanding teacher.

Your level of enjoyment also affects your playing. If I'm not in a good headspace, things can get pretty dicey. I've missed more than a few cues because my mind was somewhere else. Even if you're not preoccupied, your playing will not be as good if you're not grooving on the moment. Even your creativity suffers, so you owe it to yourself enjoy the moment the best you can.

My wife, a social worker, always tells her clients to ‘reframe’ … take the idea or issue that's bothering you and turn it around. Look for a positive viewpoint of that same issue and let that define your attitude. When I took a job with a country band years ago, I thought that I'd drifted irrevocably away from my dream. I was lucky in that the musicians were great players and great people, but I still had to reorient my thinking. And it wasn't long before I found that I was playing in the best country band around, thanks in part to my ability to adjust and reframe. Had I sat there and moped about not playing jazz as I'd hoped to do, chances are I'd have found myself out of work on top of being miserable.

So rejig your mindset if necessary and get out there and have some fun. You'll be much better off in so many ways.
-rb

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