Musicians, like athletes, are no stranger to the phrase, “No pain, no gain!” Many of us take physical exhaustion, discomfort and mental boredom as par for the course, and even as hard-won badges of honor for our labors. But experience teaches that in fact, pain can lead to injury, whether physical or psychological. There must be a better way to practice!
Enter intuitive practicing. This is not a hocus-pocus, light-some-incense-and-go-to-your-happy-place idea – it simply means, following your own instinctive sense of creativity and curiosity when you practice. Start off with a question – “Where is this phrase going?” or, “What if I handled it this way?” If you desire to linger on a particular passage, do so — as long as you are mentally engaged. If you are drawn to a completely different section of the piece, go there. Experiment with a different speed of vibrato, a more subtle diminuendo, a surprising change of color. This kind of intuitive practicing stokes the creative fires and encourages expression and engagement. And when your mind, emotions and senses are engaged, you are in an ideal state to create music!