at the SF Jazz Festival

photo courtesy BayTaper.com

Greetings and salutations.  This is not my first “official” attempt at blogging…over the past couple of years I’ve managed to squeeze out a couple here and there on MySpace with incredibly good intentions, but they always fall by the wayside.  But dammit, this is it.  I know it, I can feel it.  I’m telling myself two or three times a week new posts (that’s it, good blogger, good blogger!).  So here it is. 

In case you don’t know who I am and you want to know more about me, please visit my website – www.travissullivan.com – this site details everything that I do in terms of musical activities and services.  Now that we’ve been properly introduced, let’s get down to business…

One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is practice.  I’ve been practicing piano and saxophone off and on for about 28 years now.  There has been a lot written about how to practice, and I think that the most important things to remember are honesty and patience.  If you are honest with yourself about what you can or cannot do you it will be easier to discover what to work on, and with patience you’ll be able to slow yourself down enough to actually focus on the material at hand.  This is, of course, easier said than done. 

We are mostly are own worst enemies when it comes to practicing.  I know from my own personal experience that I suffer from option anxiety most of the time.  There is so much material to cover and to master that it can be overwhelming, and so it feels pointless to work on only one scale, or one rhythmic concept.  When you play multiple instruments and compose like I do, that issue is compounded.  When I’m practicing the saxophone, I sometimes feel like I should be practicing the saxophone.  When I’m practicing the piano, I’m thinking about why I’m not composing.  This can, and will, lead to nothing getting done in a practice session.  Why is it so hard to settle into one action, one concept, and be single-minded and fully immersed in whatever we’re practicing in that moment?

I’m not going to offer any solutions or ideas here at this point…just observations from my own personal experience to think about.  I would like to recommend a book here though that has some excellent ideas on this subject, and has been a great source of inspiration time and time again: Effortless Mastery by Kenny Werner. 

Any ideas that people would like to share about this would be great…I’d love to kick this blog off with some nice comments.