Developing a system of practice

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A system is a complex whole whose components are related between them. When it comes to practicing music there are many things we work on in order to improve our skills. So we have different components that are related and share a common goal: our growth as musicians.

It is easy then to draw a parallelism between complex systems and our practice. During the last year and a half, I have been trying to figure out how to create a good system for my practice. I had an abstract idea of what I was looking for, but I couldn't find the way to make something real of it. Nevertheless lately I have experienced a boost in my motivation towards this goal. It was after spending a really good time with the great drummer Kendrick Scott.

Kendrick has a really strong system about the way he conceives music and drumming, and how he relates it to his life, and the goals he pursues. That gave me new insights about this topic since I found some important things I was missing in the practice system I was trying to create.

Different elements, different areas

One of the things I liked most about Kendrick's approach to music is the way he includes different elements beyond exercises. Although exercises are an important part of the control of the instrument, they are subject to the main goal of a mission that comprehends everything else. So technique and exercises are one of the four big areas in Kendrick's system.

That made me realize I have to include these elements if I really want to create a tight practice system. In this sense, I have to relate it to the way I conceive music in general, the reason why I play, and the ultimate goal I pursue. This will give coherence to the system, allowing it to be flexible and to adapt to each situation I live.

Creating a musical system vs. creating a practicing system

My new goal, then, is to articulate my conception of music in a system that includes practicing as a part of it. This approach is more organic and makes a lot more of sense. Practicing becomes then an integral part of my musical mission, not a separate add-on. My musical conception will dictate my practice in a more clear way. Practicing has now a sense inside the system. It is not to get better just because, but improving the skills I need to make effective my concept about music. And my concept is related with the primary goal I pursue through music, with this necessity to express myself by means of sound.

So the goal is not to create a practicing system, something that I already have and that helps me in my everyday routines. The goal is to include this practicing system (or subsystem) in a wider musical system that gives it coherence and sense.

Taking the time

Creating this personal approach to music is something that won't be made in short time. However, I think that as soon as you start thinking about it, your relation with practicing changes for better. For me, this is what has happened. I guess this is something that all of us do in some way. However, investing some time to really and thoroughly thinking about it, can bring great benefits. After all, this is precisely what I am doing with my practice: externalizing my thoughts and making them be real through written words. 

Thank you for reading.
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