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#093: Learning How to Do One Thing at a Time

To paraphrase the 17h century English poet Andrew Marvell,
“Had we but world enough and time,
This scattered practice were no crime.”

Andrew Marvell was referring to “His Coy Mistress,” but we might well apply these lines to the kind of practice we so often find ourselves engaged in. It’s not that we don’t have goals or that we lack the ambition to improve and grow. It’s just that there is so much wonderful music in the world and we want to play it all. It’s a big feasting table and our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, or in this case, our collection of music we want to learn far exceeds our available time to learn it.

It wasn’t quite so difficult when we had no YouTube, no Instagram and no TikTok to bombard us with videos that make us musically hungry. Instant sheet music downloads are a threat to our practice capacity as well. When we had to leaf through a paper catalog of music and order an expensive book that may take days to arrive, we gave the purchase a little more consideration. Now everything is just a click away. We watch our pile of music we want to play burgeon at the same time that our available practice shrinks. Quite the dilemma for those of us who don’t have “world enough and time.”

If you are one of those harpists - and who isn’t? - who finds it challenging to finish pieces and make the progress you want because there are so many pieces you want to play and not enough time to play them all, then today’s podcast is one you need to hear.

I promise you this won’t be a lecture on delayed gratification. It’s not a diet plan for us music gluttons. It’s a little more like an “eat your cake and have it too” strategy.

There are three keys to practice success and I’m sure you know what they are: consistency, time and focus. The most important of the three is consistency, of course. Simply playing something every day is where harp happiness starts. If you put more time into it, naturally, you will be able to make more progress. And if you focus your work during that time, that’s where you start actually seeing results. But when your time is limited and your focus is using the panoramic lens rather than the super close up focus, your progress will slow considerably. Unless you learn some strategies for prioritizing your practice. And that’s our laser focus today.

Links to things I think you might be interested in that were mentioned in the podcast episode: 

Get involved in the show! Send your questions and suggestions for future podcast episodes to me at [email protected] 


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