Have you ever place an avocado pit in a jar of water like I did here? If so, then you know that it takes forever (well, 4 months) for it to grow into the little plant that I now have. My effort was pretty minimal, though. All I did was make sure that that there was enough water and sunlight. It really was a “set it and forget it” situation.
But when it comes to our craft, there is no “set it and forget it” option. There also isn’t an “instant fix,” especially when it comes to making improvements on our instruments. So what does it take? It certainly takes patience. We must learn to be OK with incremental improvement served with a side of setbacks and challenges along the way. I suppose if there was an easy path, then everyone would pursue music.
Back to the avocado plant. Now, I don’t expect to harvest avocados from my little plant in a jar. I live in Southern Illinois after all! But it is fun to watch something grow– to watch a pit that I usually throw away turn into a cute little plant is exciting. That’s how we must approach this idea of practice and improvement with regard to our instruments. It’s all about growth. Am I better now than I was yesterday? Can I play this passage better now that I could 30 minutes ago?
But of course, life always presents challenges and obstacles. Sometimes we don’t have good playing days. Sometimes we get in a rut. Sometimes we feel as if we are getting worse. My advice? Stand back and get some perspective. It’s probably not as bad as you think. Remain curious about your craft, and find a creative solution that might help you improve. Even the smallest victory can propel you forward. And small victories accumulate! Giving up is not an option. Failure is off the table. The goals in life that are worth pursuing require you to power through the mud and maybe get a little dirty.
Tap into your grit and let yourself grow.