“The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield has become my bible. It was recommended to me by a friend 3 years ago and I have read it over and over again since. The author declares resistance to be the official enemy of all creative endeavors, and it is a demon that takes on many, many forms. Self-pity, television, relationship problems, a messy house, long to-do lists, volunteer committees, any kind of personal drama, etcetera, etcetera. You get the point. As music teachers, it can be difficult to make time for our own practice, but I am beginning to realize how essential this is.
When I started teaching, I told myself I would work really hard to get my teaching business going, and once that happened, I would begin making my own practice a priority again. That was 7 years ago. What happened? Life happened. It became difficult to not only find time, but also motivation for practice. There was always an excuse. The kicker came when I was asked by a student how long I practice each day. I was so embarrassed to say that I was so busy with the business that I probably only practiced a few hours a week. Yikes. What a bad example.
“The War of Art” is an easy read. It takes every excuse you have ever given yourself for not practicing and tells you why you are wrong. The title alone makes me feel like everyday is a challenge to be won, and the challenge is resistance to my own practice. The thing is, since I began taking on the challenge, my students are performing better than ever.
Once I began practicing 2 hours a day, I got a little cocky and began expecting more from the kids. Just like a baby boomer who loves to brag about all the snowy miles they hiked in order to get to school, I love telling my kids that 20 minutes a day is nothing compared to what I log in practice time. I love seeing their jaws drop open when I tell them how long I practice, and I really believe it is inspiring them to work hard. They sound better than ever.
Do you make time for your own practice? How do you make it work? Do you have a set time each day and for how long? How do you stay motivated?