I recently found out that a Facebook friend of mine has been diagnosed with cancer. What a shock!
She and I spoke last year about my doing a live video for her blog and online cello community, so today I finally made the video. At her request, the topic was about how to stay connected to music and her cello even when she isn’t able to practice, due to her illness.
The topic is an important one, because we all have times when we can’t practice – whether for health reasons, injury, or travel – and we all need to know what to do in those cases, especially if the time away from our instrument is prolonged. You can watch the video here:
Practicing without your instrument is actually a topic I talk about a lot, and my students are encouraged to do quite a lot of “mental” practicing away from their instruments, even when they’re feeling fine. Having mental practice skills can be invaluable for musicians on the road without a place to practice before a performance, or when their instruments are in the repair shop, for example.
In a nutshell (see the video for full explanations and commentary), here are the 8 TIPS I gave video viewers today, on how to stay connected to music – and even improve – while away from your instrument:
- YOU are your primary instrument. You can’t always control your circumstances, but you CAN improve how your mind-body-Self functions and reacts to things. When YOU are functioning well, everything you do will improve, by default. Practice working on yourself with Alexander Constructive Thinking, and the next time you pick up your instrument, your playing will be BETTER. Guaranteed. I know this from personal experience, over decades of witnessing this phenomenon in myself and my students.
- All music is created in the MIND. Learn how to enjoy it THERE, even if you can’t produce it outwardly right now.
- Your best, most efficient and effective practice happens when you have good “mental practice” skills. Learn how to practice in your MIND and you won’t need an instrument to improve. A little bit goes a long way! Besides, you’ll be learning how to play your instrument with less tension when you know how to do mental practice with EASE, using Constructive Thinking.
- Stay connected to music by listening to music that makes you happy! Get curious, experiment, and try listening to different genres of music… discover new things you like – or not! Do you like Pakistani music? I do! How about Hindustani music? Or Argentinian Tango? Or Swiss Yodeling? Or Mongolian Throat Singers? Or traditional African music?
- Adopt a lover’s mindset. Imagine what you would need to do to take care of your mindset if you were physically separated from your lover. What if it were 1950 and you had to write letters overseas? You’d have to really pay attention, and not “pine away”, waiting for letters every day…. Instead, you’d send out loving vibes every day, trusting that your love is reaching your lover. Might sound strange… but keep sending love to your instrument even when you can’t play, and FEEL gratitude for this beautiful relationship you have, even from afar.
- Trust that this is temporary. One day at a time. Hope and faith in All-Possibility are everything! Keep smiling, and look forward to when you CAN make music again. For now, SING if you can!
- Purpose! Get in touch with the REAL reason you want to make music. Probably, it’s because it makes you feel good, and it makes you happy. It’s not so much about the music… it’s about those feelings.
- Learn to process your feelings. Accept your feelings, let yourself FEEL them deeply, and let them MOVE through you… up and out. Practice this and you’re practicing making great music at the same time.
I hope you find these tips to be useful. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!
p.s. Message me to learn more about making great music with your whole, healthy Self!
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