Last week I was reading Seth Godin’s blog on Sight Reading and it got me thinking about practicing. He said he never practiced his clarinet, like ever, and the teacher would scold him for only practicing 3 or 4 hours that week. I was the same way, a good sight reader, and so it appeared I could play better than I could.
But I’ve come to realize, practice matters. A little known fact, is I went to CU-Boulder on a bass clarinet scholarship. That’s right folks, I used to play the biggun. In the Spring of ’89 I closed the case on Big Clara Net, never to be opened again. You see, I was failing music theory. Actually to be more than fair to myself, I didn’t have an F, but a grade of C or higher was required to move on to Music Theory 2. I got a tutor, studied super hard and used my whole brain to understand the concepts. But music theory is a lot like math… and now I have a degree in English Lit.
What I didn’t know, is if I had practiced my instrument more, I would have passed music theory.
The arts aren’t about talking about doing art. They aren’t about formulas, logic and math. The whole thing hinges upon actually doing the art. Music isn’t just about theory, you have to practice, play and create. Writing isn’t about a laptop, pens, tablets or books, but about sitting down every day to write and create something larger than yourself.
Further, to all the education systems cutting their art programs, art isn’t about viewing it on a video game or computer screen. It must be experienced, taken in and put back into the world as a new creation. Our children need the schools to provide opportunities to practice their music, visual and dramatic arts. Students need to practice to find out who they are, to discover their purpose.
Today, because of the public education art programs I was involved in, I’m a vocalist and percussionist. Clanging cymbals and banging the gong doesn’t require quite as much practice as clarinets and vocals, but does require a lot of rhythm and counting.
Counting? I probably should practice math more. Nah.