There are so many ways of looking at “practice,” probably hundreds of ways, and as you know, I always promote the “play, don’t practice” philosophy as a way of really making music. Of course, we must really keep playing regardless of what we want to call it, so I find that it’s most of all, important to honor this need we have to improve our playing at all times.
I find that these days, my sheer love for playing is what drives me to “practice,” but I like actually setting musical goals for myself when I do play. Of course, this is a time when my schedule is filled with many recording responsibilities, FIVE album’s worth, as a matter of fact! But what this means for me is that I have actual specific pieces of music to work on, and each project is different. There are all-acoustic finger-style recordings, flat-pick acoustic, full band, overdubs, duets, you name it, and all of it stretches me in various directions. This is really good for me, and what I especially love is the challenge it means as well.
So as a result of all this enormous “need” I am now practicing more than ever, and really loving it. You’ll find this to be true too, as you try to grab any free time you may have from your daily toils and troubles so can truly enjoy playing the guitar! I like to “push” myself, always into newer and newer musical territory, and of course, you just never know what may actually come along that you will have to adjust to. This means anything from new musicians you have to work with to a broken fingernail! It all means adjusting to a new situation, which will undoubtedly mean a “shift” in how you are approaching that given piece of music.
There are times when one can actually “over-prepare” for something, and this can be very counter-productive, as we never really know how it’s all going to go down once we hit either the studio or the stage. I feel that it’s better to know the music well enough so you leave yourself open to freedom and creativity when it comes time to “shine.” The energy level, the interaction with others, the overall sound and vibe are all things that are likely to change your approach once it’s really time to perform or record, and I like to leave myself comfortably open for when such challenges actually present themselves.
So remember, play and practice as much as you can, but leave yourself totally open to whatever may come along. If you are prepared enough, you’ll be sure to always turn these new circumstances into positive musical experiences! Play on!!