Day 15 of the practice challenge

It’s been fun to hear from a few people that are taking up the practice challenge (more info here). Yay. It’s certainly working as a motivating factor for me, so thanks for that. Some days it feels like no big deal and not really enough practice time to make a difference, but I can feel the consistency working and it is making a difference in my playing, willingness to take the time it takes to learn something, and musical ability. It’s also a great haven to hang out in when life feels a little crazy.

Last Saturday was the only day that I didn’t do my practice, but I listened to a great live concert – FEAST playing chamber music – so that was fun, and certainly felt like it counted as deepening my relationship with music. It’s been quite a few years since I performed with that crew and it was fun to hear the music from my new perspective from all the time I’ve been putting in with the Marimba Project, music is richer for me now.

In two days we travel to Maryland to visit David’s family – this will add another level of complexity for me to keep the practicing going while out of my routine here at home. Wish me luck.

day 6

the only trouble with this practicing thing is that the more I do, the more aware I am of the places where I’ve just been fudging it without really being able to break it down. . . teaching also points out those places. . . I’m trying to be gentle while also getting more precise.

this is how Jonathan Harnum illustrates it in his book “The Practice of Practice” thepracticeofpractice.com/book-preview-sample/

day 1

today started a bit shaky – to bed at 12:30 and then up again at 6 with a very awake toddler-guy who was very clear that he was not going back to sleep (though he usually sleeps until 8:30). After breakfast, I sent him to grandma’s early.

Though I had a slight headache from not enough sleep, I made it out to the drum room and dug into a sticking that was throwing me off in rehearsal and it immediately revealed itself. So satisfying to see the practicing working. A half hour (15 min of sticking work and 15 min of other marimba practice) flew by and with enough child-care time to work with David on some music too. Yippee.

And then a nap with the little one who tried to convince me he wasn’t sleepy, but I was sleepy enough for the both of us and he’s still resting (2 hours later).

practice challenge begins tomorrow

I’m really excited to try something new and to try to use my enthusiasm for practice (and my need for accountability) to encourage you in deepening your relationship with music.

The concept is easy – add 15 minutes of practice/musical inquiry into your life.

I’ve currently been doing 15 minutes of stick-control (drumming rudiments) on top of the rehearsals and classes that I’m currently teaching and attending. I’ve noticed the difference in my playing. David has noticed the difference in my playing. This is exciting.

If you don’t have a practice routine – how exciting to start thinking about building one. If you do, how exciting to think about adding a quarter of an hour to work on something specific.

I was originally thinking that my 15 minutes would be enough, but I’ve incorporated it into my routine to the point that I want to challenge myself along with you, so. . . I’ll be adding another 15 minutes of marimba specific practice to my schedule for the month of November.

I’m also loving singing to the little one and looking forward to getting some vocal coaching to really be able to use my voice as part of my musical repertoire. We’ll see if that unfolds this month as well. I’ll keep you posted.

Happy music making!

blessings,
Arlyn

Arlyn marimba

a little glimpse

Hello again, I see that the blogging habit did not stick the last time that it circled back around, though it is often in my thoughts.

Lately I’ve been busy being mama, and playing music. Mostly they work really well together. It feels more graceful now that the little one’s just a little bigger. This past weekend for Harvest Festival the little ones grandparents, uncle, and aunt worked magic for me to be able to play a three hour gig (and help load and unload and teach workshops). Gratitude. Here we are:Marimba Project

Today I’ve been antsy with “the list” and trying to get little bits done here and there as well as being present for the making of a pile of red, yellow, and green leaves on the bench.

I just pulled the latest pickles into the fridge and they’re working!

Recipe:

Fresh pickling cucumbers – unwashed – straight from the garden (this is important because the skin has some of the bacteria needed for fermentation)

brine – 1 gallon of water to 1 cup salt – boil the water, add the salt, let cool before pouring on

spices – as desired – fresh dill, pickling spice, whole peeled garlic cloves, whole peppercorns

a couple of grape leaves (for crunch)

a jar

3-14 days

tuck the final cuke under the edge of the jar so it can’t stick out. Then I cover with a plastic bag stuck into the water to create a seal and lightly cap with a lid. store out of the sun in a place where they will go undisturbed but remembered. 7 days has been working nicely for me – a cool spot in summer, a warmer spot in the winter – as stable as possible

skim off scum and refrigerate.

 

practice

I am in love with the marimba and marimba ensemble music. It’s official. You probably knew that. It is the first instrument that I have been gleefully able to practice. Not as much as I would like, as I have a super-cute 1.5 year old who likes to grab the mallets out of my hands, but I do get to practice. And I get to play with people, and I get to inspire folks to play music who might not otherwise get to play. Yesterday while waiting, I worked on a rhythm that I’ve been struggling with. I think I’ve got it. This is very exciting.

We sent this next bit to our newsletter, but it felt valid enough to share here as well. . .

With the darkening days, it’s a great time to go inward, and to go to the practices that keep us healthy. It is amazing what a bit of consistent dedicated practice can do for any artform – but especially for playing music. As simple as matching our breath to our steps while walking, or actively listening to music, or practicing rhythmic patterns on the chair while waiting at the dentist’s office, practice of all kinds will help deepen our musical relationships and improve our playing.

Here are two books that both David and I have read and enjoyed on the subject of music practice:

First, Learn to Practice by Tom Heany “First, Learn to Practice is a book about how to practice a musical instrument – any musical instrument. It’s suitable for all musicians – professional, amateur, student or beginner. “Certainly part of the problem in learning how to play an instrument is the way an individual approaches practicing. One must be committed to spending lots of time on eye, ear, and hand coordination; learning how to listen; learning how to sight-read; and, having fun during those many hours of conquering notes on and off the page. But, how many “students” really know how to practice in the first place?”

The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life – Master Any Skill or Challenge by Learning to Love the Process by Thomas M. Sterner “In those times when we want to acquire a new skill or face a formidable challenge we hope to overcome, what we need most are patience, focus, and discipline, traits that seem elusive or difficult to maintain.” Sterner writes about learning to love the process.

happy practicing!!!

echinacea

 

a drawing from the archives. .  . I’m hoping to turn a few into cards soon:

echinacea

“Antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties in echinacea make it useful in many acute and chronic conditions. It is helpful for those dealing with colds, flu, respiratory distresses, sinus infections, sore throats, swollen glands, arthritis, fever, infected wounds, vaginal infections, candida overgrowth, prostatis, and urinary tract infections.” – Gail Faith Edwards Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs   This is not a tonic herb – this is an herb to keep nearby when you need it but not to take everyday.

 

As it is now officially fall (happy fall), it’s a good time to dig echinacea root and clean it and put it in some 80 proof (or higher) alcohol and make it into tincture for the wintertime (shake on occasion and wait 6 weeks or more). Or a good time to plant it in your garden if you don’t have it yet.

home

the leaves are starting to blow down from the trees in the cooling winds.

it is good to be home and I pray for grace as we get ready for the winter with music, details, cooking and fall chores.

while we were out and about, AC got to be ringbearer in his aunt and uncle’s wedding. sweet.

ac is ringbearer

grace

My yoga teacher in Boulder, Sofia Diaz, said during class something along the lines of – if we could feel the grace that pours on us every moment of every day, we would be melted completely.

 

I have tasted the edges of this grace the past few evenings, walking at dusk in these warm late-summer days with our five-month-old snuggled in my arms, listening to the crickets and other clattering insects and watching the light from the day go from pink to dark on the mountains that I love.

 

May I also remember that grace when the same five-month-old needs to be carried around the kitchen instead of watching me cook or do dishes from the comfort of his bouncy chair or wakes me up in the night for the 6th time.

 

May I connect with the grace as I move through the world.