Talking about practice…

We’re going to talk about practice, man. Allen Iverson won 0 championships, but he didn’t like talking about practice, man.

Okay, the video is funny, cause he says practice a lot. But against Allen Iverson’s wishes I’m going to talk about practice. I just finished reading the book The Practicing Mind by Thomas B Sterner. The book is written by a guy who was a professional piano player and tuner. To recap the book quickly, it talks about how very few people enjoy practice. In today’s gimmie gimmie now now society, where we have tons of instant gratification, it’s hard to slow down and focus on just practicing something. In the book Sterner talks about how to commit yourself to practicing, whether it’s golf, piano, guitar, painting, writing, you name it. We all want to be the best artist we can be, including myself, and we want to be that artist now. It’s frustrating making mistakes, and not being able to pull off a certain technique or capture something’s proportions accurately. That’s why practice kinda stinks. It’s a whole bunch of mess-ups mixed with a few breakthroughs to get to that “I’m a super awesome artist” level. Wait wait wait… I’m lying to you. Practice isn’t a whole bunch of mess-ups. There are actually no mess-ups in practice at all. “Mess-ups” every single one, are just a step in the process of getting better. A “mess up” today was an accomplishment 5 years ago when you started, or however many years ago. Sure we plateau, but I think that is a result of not pushing yourself to practice more.

I’ve taken this year to practice. I have to work and continue to create new things, and lessons, and everything to make a living. But I’ve set aside a lot more time to sketch in my sketchbook, and to focus on new subject matter, try new mediums, new surfaces, etc. That’s what this whole blog is about anyway.

Sterner’s book talks about how we are all always in the process of getting better, and if you can accept that you can start to enjoy practicing. If you sit down to your sketchbook, not worried about the end result, but focused on the fact that whatever you do in that book is making you better each day, you’ll start to enjoy the process more. It’s absolutely true too. I was kind of like Allen Iverson for the last 3 or 4 years. “Don’t talk to me about practice, I’m too busy for that, I gotta focus on my game.” I had an epiphany one day flying on the plane to a workshop in Vancouver. I really want to get better at everything I do. Whether it’s speaking in front of crowds, playing guitar, or of course, my artwork. So I’ve changed my focus a little from the game, to practice. It’s actually quite exhilarating. I’m enjoying all the work I’m putting into my craft, and I’ll be rewarded for it. Not because I’ll be a certain level at some certain point, but because I know I’m always getting better at what I do, every single day.

It’s a great book, and I highly recommend it. Especially if you always give excuses as to why you aren’t practicing things you enjoy, or if you just hate practicing something and just want it now now now.

Now I’ll change gears for a second and talk about results. We started out the blog with a basketball player who didn’t really want to talk about practice. Now let’s just take a look at someone who likes to practice and put’s a lot of focus on it.

So that guy, and his team, won a championship last year. Here’s the kicker, this video was in the off season AFTER he won a championship. He’s probably the best player in the game right now, and they have a good chance of winning another championship. So yeah, let’s talk about practice.

I’m going to do a little experiment on my blog. I practice blues guitar every day for an hour. I’m going to record 5 to 10 minutes each day of me practicing playing the B Minor blues pentatonic scale every day for a few weeks. We’ll see if I get better at it. This is a scale I have just started working on, and I’m also working on finger picking the scale rather than using a pick. So in a few weeks we will see where I am. This video is me focusing on the upper parts of the scale over a loop I created. Let’s see what happens!

3/10/16 B Minor Pentatonic Practice from GagnonStudio on Vimeo.

I’ve changed my mindset to enjoy the process, and not worry so much about the end result. This has relieved the stress and pressure of trying to climb that ladder. I’m already there… in process… always in process. I’m okay with that.

Thanks for stopping by!

4 thoughts on “Talking about practice…

  1. Loved the blog and your guitar playing Tim! My question is this…if I want to get more say atmosphere in my paintings how do I go about practicing this?


  2. Thank you for this one!! I am going to change my mindset when painting from now on and do as you say, think of it as practice!! I knew it but I think it I needed to read your post to really think about it.


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