Practice makes ….
By Andrew Crisp, Middle Master

According to the old adage, practice makes perfect. But for most of us, when it comes to playing a musical instrument, we have definitely not reached perfection.

Learning a musical instrument as a young person is a common experience. For each of us, practice triggers different memories: potential arguments, avoidance tactics, the tedium of scales; and sometimes, I hope, enjoyment.

Fast forward a few decades, and I wanted to reflect on how all my hours of practice have impacted on my adult life. Having invested many hours over the years into practising a musical instrument, I have been fortunate to reach a good standard as an amateur player. This has brought many benefits. The thrill of performing an exciting large-scale orchestral work such as Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade or playing the sublime clarinet solo in Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Symphony made all the practising worthwhile.

Then there is the whole social aspect of playing music in groups: meeting new people and making new friends. This was particularly helpful when I lived abroad.

Another benefit of music-making came into sharp focus as the pandemic forced us into lock-downs with new routines. For me, the chance to make music each day became part of my new routine and a key ingredient in managing the stress of lock-down life.

So as I look back, practice has not made perfect but it has made great opportunities arising from this life-long and greatly rewarding hobby. It has made connections with a whole range of interesting people and it gave me a positive coping strategy during recent lockdowns.

So back to that common experience of struggling with practising. ‘No pain, no gain’: I would encourage all young musicians to keep going, pointing out that the ‘pain’ of those moments has the potential of bringing a life-time of ‘gains’.

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