Yesterday in class we heard a pianist suffering from tendonitis in both arms perform about six minutes of music — all he would be able to play that day. Afterwards there was a silence as I (and perhaps his classmates) pondered how precious those six minutes were and how we so easily squander our time at the piano and elsewhere. I asked the pianist how he made use of his very brief practice time, and he responded, “I have to plan what I want to accomplish before I play a single note.” Sage advice for any musician, regardless of injury.
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I’ve been trying, with moderate success, to attend more concerts this year. After scheduling my own performances, rehearsals, lessons, and practice time, I’m reluctant to leave the house for yet another event. However, attending concerts is far from superfluous. As someone whose formal music education ended long ago, I learn the most from listening to other musicians of any level. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I attended a concert and thought it was a waste of time afterwards.