Growing Pains: Learning How to Practice

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

Growing pains. I was feeling them HARD yesterday. No, not in my joints or body (I haven't grown any taller since I was 13...); but in my heart and my mind. It started with the other night when I shared some new original songs with my parents, and my dad said to me "you know, you should be practicing at least 30 minutes to an hour everyday." I was very triggered by this, not because it was particularly mean or harsh (it's actually a very typical thing for my dad to say) but because it struck a guilty chord in me that I've been suppressing. The truth is I haven't been practicing as much as I would like to due to the fact that my attention is pulled in many different directions between people, hobbies, gigs, and other creative endeavors. With a limited amount of time and energy available, it is inevitable that some areas have to take the backseat periodically.

Spontaneous live recording session at Ivy Palace in Taipei, Taiwan

Nonetheless, this was a wake-up call and reminder to myself that I am not as skilled as I would like to be, which is a pretty hard thing to admit to myself. I sat with these feelings of not being good enough, and acknowledging the ways that I have not honored my true desire to focus, commit, practice, and improve my skills in my crafts. So the next day I sat down with my guitar and flute, and did what I have been neglecting for weeks. I went through warm-ups, scales, played to a metronome, stopped to perfect difficult parts instead of rolling through them with the "close enough" attitude. However, after a couple of hours, my approach backfired a little, resulting in me sinking into an emotional funk of self criticism, spiraling towards self loathing and hopelessness.

Thoughts like "I can't do this", "I'm terrible", "I'm stuck" rolled through my mind, and my motivation dwindle