You sit down and start playing. Maybe you are trying to get a new technique down. Perhaps you’re after speed. You start out innocently practicing and then it happens.
Your brain begins to interfere. It starts saying things like “I can’t do this” or “I’ll never get this down.” Immediately after these thoughts, your fingers begin flailing. The notes become more elusive, and the technique becomes harder to nail down.
Somehow, you never make the connection. Henry Ford once said, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”
I am a big believer that anyone can do almost anything. We just have to take the time and initiative to figure out how to do it.
When I was sixteen, I had locked myself out of my car. I tried and tried to get in. I remember going back into the house and announcing to my mother that it was impossible to open the car. Mom went out and managed to pick the car lock.
Mom looked at the word “impossible” as a challenge. Backing down from a challenge was not an option.
Let’s prove the point with a little experiment. I actually use this experiment with my students.
First, write the words “As you think so shall you play” on a piece of paper. Honestly, you can make up your own phrase. This is just a reminder that your brain has a lot to do with your playing.
Next, say “I can do this!” out loud about ten times. Usually, I have my students get louder and louder every time we say it. Now start playing. Try to play it perfectly 5 times in a row.
This is by no means an instant fix. You still have to put in the time and practice. You still have to make sure that your fingers are doing what they are supposed to do.
It will do two things for you: Firstly, it will make your sessions more bearable. No one likes the boss that always finds fault with everything. Why do that to yourself? Secondly, it will help you improve much faster. I have seen this cut my students’ practice time in half.
Part of the reason it cuts the practice time in half is that it keeps your enthusiasm up. By keeping up the enthusiasm, time passes more quickly and enjoyably, so you get more from your time.
So this might not be an instant fix, but it sure comes close.
Play in the Key of You!