Nearly a year ago, I wrote 31 Days to Better Practicing, a month-long series on ways to make one's practice time more enjoyable, efficient, and diversified. The series consists of articles, links, anecdotes, thoughts, and videos of different artists performing. Since then, I've been honored to have received many letters from students and teachers that have found the series to be a great help in their work.
However, I was completely unprepared for a question a new student at the Royal Conservatory asked me a few days ago: What is the best way to read 31 Days? Day by day? All at once? I must confess that when I wrote the series, I was only thinking of putting my thoughts in order for the current article and deciding where to go for the next one. It's only with some distance from the writing process that I realize the importance of finding entry points to the series as a way of influencing how people utilizes it.
So without further ado, here are some possibilities on how to read 31 Days to Better Practicing and incorporate it into your practice routine.
1.) Start at the beginning and read one article every day. I wanted to write the 31 articles with a clear beginning, middle and end. The first few articles discuss how to set aside time for regular practice, move on to warming up, and goal setting, then move on to different ways of practicing, and end with techniques for putting everything together. There's so much information in the articles, links (with even more information), and food for thought in the video selections that it might be useful to incorporate some of the techniques over a longer period of time.
2.) Read the entire series in one sitting. Many of us (including myself) enjoy information overload. Read the entire series in one sitting, then figure out what's useful to you in your practicing.
3.) From the table of contents, read the articles with the information that pertains to you the most. I'm all in favor of getting down to business. Don't bother with techniques you don't feel have value to you, but cut to the chase and utilize what you need, now.
4.) Read the last article first. Find Your Muse, Find Your Process takes the series in an entirely different direction, and ends with the importance of the artistic journey that underlies the entire process. But when I finished the final article (with the embedded Linkin Park video that both inspired and confused many people), I had a horrible feeling that perhaps I should have started the entire series with FYMFYP and had everything follow from the premise of the artist's journey. If this is the reading that you feel is important to you, by all means start with the ending and move on from there.
5.) Read the comments as well as the articles. One of the wonders of writing and reading blogs in the Web 2.0 age is that the articles themselves don't tell the full story. Read the comments to see how others react to the subject and add their own perspective.
6.) Add more comments. The writing of the series is finished, but comments are still being accepted. If you have anything important to add to the discussion, or even if you disagree with what I've written, the comments are the place to voice your opinion for everyone's benefit.
How have you read and utilized 31 Days?