Aether Time Management & Practice Sessions

Posted: 5/31/2007 8:06:18 AM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

I figure this is a learnable technique like any other I have sought help with here at TW.

Often mastering the theremin is not as great a challenge as finding the time and strength to master the theremin.

Are there any techniques for time management or concentrated practice sessions you use?

During busy times I find I have to be very selective to make effective but short practice sessions but also have to navigate those days when I can't seem to play a note.
Posted: 5/31/2007 9:41:18 AM

From: Bristol, United Kingdom

Joined: 12/30/2006

I just practice when I can. More so towards the day of the gig, but basically whenever I feel like it. Often when I do have the time I really won't be "in the zone" as it were.

Somehow I always seem to get on with it best when I have a massive hangover.
Posted: 5/31/2007 10:12:25 AM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

I've heard others mention "getting your mind out of the way"... guess that would sure do it!

If I'm stuck out of the zone, as soon as the slightest sense of frustration or anger I try to just stop the work at hand and return to the most basic of exercises and most of all get any tension out of my forearms and neck before I start back again.

Of course on a tight schedule that's a challange, waking up that way is faster at least!
Posted: 6/12/2007 11:11:52 PM

From: Morrisville, PA

Joined: 10/19/2005

Your term "aether time mangement" is well put. As a die-hard proponent of time mangament for almost two decades, I can tell you that it is first and foremost a mindset. Secondly, it is a highly adaptable methodology. But the mindset is crucial; it's a simple concept that most people find exceedingly hard to put into practice. Here's the concept and the first step in practicing true time management:

Replace the phrases "have time" and/or "find time" with the phrase "make time." Use that substitution in all situations when talking or thinking about your practice time.

Sooner or later we habitually think or say "I just don't seem to have the time," "I can never find the time," " I just need to find the time," etc., ad infinitum with all themes and variations on phrases like that.

In time management -- past present and future -- one starts with far truer statements: "I never seem to MAKE the time," I need to MAKE the time," etc. This puts the entire onus on oneself. The truth is, all of us spend tons of time doing things OTHER THAN that thing we really want to do but never MAKE the time for.

Simple as it sounds, the consistent admission that "I never MAKE the time" will begin to provide the impetus to take take action. C'mon... we've all sat and just vegged out for 15 minutes, or plopped in front of a TV for a while. We've all taken up time with trivial diversions, or folded laundry for a half hour, or cleaned up the kitchen, or countless other supposedly important things. In and among them, all it takes is to MAKE a substitution for, say, 15 minutes, two times a day.

The dishes will still get done, the work taken home will be handled, etc. The difference is, you MAKE the time to do one thing that makes you happy and do it without fail.

While this desciption is only really a first basic step, it does work.

Again, seems easy in theory. Wait till you begin to try and find yourself resisting because the mindset is actually so foreign to your normal routine. If you can have the presence of mind to be aware when this happens, you'l be able to allow the mindset to take hold.
Posted: 6/13/2007 8:10:47 AM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

That is a brilliant idea, thank you sir!

As most things begin first in the realm of thought this is a very promising key.

Another pattern I've been noticing is what you'd call productive procrastination, doing other things that do in deed need doing but are not the most important or imperative things on your list.

But ironically the more important a task is to us, important to our very core like musicking, the more likely we may be to avoid it. Fear, high stakes, fatigue, low self value may all play their dastardly parts in that process.

Ideally, but rarely can, I seem to be most effective when I'm not on a schedule but commit as the day goes along to whatever is top on the important tasks list, e.g. keeping no appointments or schedule, if someone shows up and are more important than the current task you see them. But with a day job/career that's very structured this is tough to do, but a paradigm I try to keep in mind at least.

I'm adding "Make time" to that mental cache along with another cognitive substitution; rather than "need" the word "want" => "I want to make more time to practice"... so I'm stopping now and practicing till I have to dash to work.

thanks again!
Posted: 6/13/2007 8:36:48 AM

From: Jax, FL

Joined: 2/14/2005

In addition to what has already been posted here I would just add...Turn off the TV.

My wife spent an hour last night watching a "Law and Order" episode that we have both seen already.
That's a whole hour she could have spent doing any number of other things.

It did give me a chance to slip out into the music room and practice so I guess I shouldn't complain too much, otherwise she would have had me folding laundry...
Posted: 6/13/2007 11:15:14 AM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

We actually banned outside television, broadcast and cable, from our home because of the distractions video addiction was causing. It's put me on the outside of the most of the water cooler conversations at work, but now in a way I'm pleased that "American Idol" and "Survivor" have never been admitted into our living room. But now the DVD collection is growing into it's on kind of threat. At least we still have to ask the questions: should we put one on, ok which one? that sometimes gives us a pause to leave it off and covered up.

Another back burner mental cache idea I think is useful is the notion of being able to say "no" because you have a great "yes" to address. It may make it easier to say no to a night out with the buds because you want to say yes to making practice time tonight. It can work at the day job too... sometimes at least.
Posted: 6/13/2007 2:36:00 PM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

I don't know how I manage to get things done, really. I'm not particularly good at "making time" for things -- though I agree with Kip about this.

I share my goals with people that are: 1) supportive, and 2) will hold me to what I say. When one shares one's goals, one creates visible expectations.

I set goals for myself that are somewhat audacious. The goal must be big enough to be exciting.

By the way, a "goal" to me is a "dream" plus a "deadline".

A goal to "spend more time with the Theremin" is too nebulous to be powerful. A goal such as, "I will prepare and record (a particular song) by (a given date)" is specific, measurable, and effective.

Another powerful tool that has worked for me is to make a list of specific things that I want to accomplish. I know this sounds like a "self-help" message however there is something almost frighteningly powerful about this.

Once, when cleaning out the attic, I stumbled upon a box of old papers -- in the box, I found a sheet of paper from when I was in my early 20s -- I had made a list of over thirty things I wanted to accomplish. The list had been long-forgotten until finding it brought me back to the time and place where I wrote it (seated at an organ console during a long sermon). To my amazement, there was not a single item on the list that I hadn't gone on to accomplish -- a couple of things done a couple of decades after writing out the list!

Alas, I have tried to (micro) manage my time with day-planners and such. Just doesn't work for me -- I am too disorganized. I just well... commit myself to doing things and then just do 'em. I am always afraid that I won't have enough time, energy, or skill -- afraid that unexpected things will come up that will preempt the goal -- in other words, afraid that I will fall short.

I just do the stuff anyway. Like a duck, calm on the surface and paddling like h*ll underneath.
Posted: 6/13/2007 10:22:58 PM

From: Morrisville, PA

Joined: 10/19/2005

To address one very serious point OmHoge has made:

>productive procrastination, doing other things that do in deed need doing but are not the most important or imperative things on your list.>

This is one of the biggest obstacles to successful time management.

Time management, as a whole, runs CONTRARY to what our instincts tells us. In many cases, the priorities in time management are the exact opposite of what we'd do.

The "productive procrastination" is a result of assigning a high priority to things that are of very low beneficial value. The common phrase or thought is something like "if I can get these things done and out of the way, THEN I can do the important thing."

The key to turning this counterproductive reasoning around is to ask one question: what will benefit you most? Time management is very much about NOT DOING most of the things we think need to be done. "I'm just going to get my desk straightened up, then I can continue a chapter on my novel;" "I'm just going to get the lawn mowed and out of the way, the I'll practice my golf swing." and so on. Guess what? The messy desk just needs you to push everything on the floor and deal with it after you put the time in on the novel. Guess what? You'll cut the grass... and it grows back! But getting that golf swing perfected will make you a better player. Practicing the theremin makes you a better player, opens more the possibilites for appearances, increases your confidence, makes you feel good, affirms that your investment in the instrument was worth it -- all things that benefit you far more than, say, getting hooked on looking at theremin videos on the internet.

What benefits you the most gets done first.
Posted: 6/18/2007 4:57:28 PM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

[b]Recording practice sessions[/b]

Many of us utilize recording devices as a practice tool. Very simply, we record ourselves, listen to the results, work on the areas that need improvment, and repeat the process. At some point, a recording will reveal that everything is "ok" -- the pitch, dynamics, etc... all sound good. Confident that the music is learned, we forge ahead, perhaps emboldened to play in a public setting. Is there any more that one can do to prepare?

[b]A good take doesn't tell the whole story[/b]

A good recording does not reveal the mental work of the performer. For example, say a work has a long rest -- say seven measures. The performer may have, in reality, lost his/her place during the rest, guessed, and just happenned to enter at the right time. In this case, the performer's luck wasn't recorded -- just the outcome. Such a passage may go ok in practice and, under the pressure of live performance, go to pieces.

Another form of guesswork is when one manages to hit notes without really knowing the intervallic relationships. One may be "skating" to pitch or "fishing" without visualizing the target or the distance to the target. Again, such tentative playing may not show up on a recording but can wreak havoc in a live situation.

[b]The margin of safety[/b]

This is a concept borrowed from aviation. In the go/no go decision as it applies to flying, a situation that is merely "safe" is not good enough. Pilots demand a "margin of safety" above and beyond what is merely "safe". If one is flying right on the line between safety and danger, then the slightest distraction, etc... could result in disaster.

While music-making doesn't carry the life/death implications of flying, perhaps we can find ways to perform with such a "margin" that distractions don't compromise the performance.

[b]In your head or in your hands?[/b]

Alas, an audio recording records what is "in one's hands" and doesn't record one's calm, confusion, or anxiety while playing. A passage that is practiced tentatively may go ok in the practice room and fall apart in the live performance. Fortunately, some techniques can help one identify such passages prior to a live performance. The following techniques would follow after solitary practice in an undisturbed environment:

1) Allow distractions. Play your music in a populated part of the house. Record the results. Look at every distraction as an opportunity to practice focus despite distractions.

2) Practice outdoors. (I have spoken with my neighbors and told them that if I play too loud it is unintentional and for them to feel free to call or walk over to my patio.) Plenty of distractions outdoors -- airplanes, cars, and yes... even people within earshot. Again, record this.

3) Do an "open" dress-rehearsal. Prior to the electro-music festival, I reserved the neighborhood clubhouse for rehearsal. I invited friends and family to "come when you can and leave when you must". This was very successful and I plan to do more of them when I have new music to "dry run" prior to performances.

[b]rock-solid performance[/b]

When one rehearses with realistic distractions then, in addition to music-making, one prepares mentally for the inevitable distractions that are part of live performance.

To know the music and to maintain focus despite distraction can result in performances that live up to their potential.

May we all deliver "rock solid" performances.

[i]-- Kevin[/i]

You must be logged in to post a reply. Please log in or register for a new account.