playing, practicing, persuading, or performing?

in tonight’s blog i’d like to share my opinions about four words…


i use this word to identify the feeling i get when i’m…well…truly playing my instrument! it’s fun, i enjoy it, it’s just the right amount of challenging, and my self-expression is at a high point. playing and fun go hand in hand: the more fun i’m having, the more i want to play, and the more i play the more fun i have….easiest win-win ever!!


i use this word to identify the way i’m behaving and acting when i play. i’m noticing things like tone, intonation, rhythmic integrity, dynamics, articulation, phrasing, style, and more. this is the realm of being objective about my music. [on a personal note, this area often gets way too much of my attention! anyone else?]


i use this word to identify the way i feel when i’m playing with or for other people. if someone else is there, i’m now in a relationship, and relationships require communication. and communication that persuades is generally better than that which dissuades! now, i’m taking the feeling, self-expression, personal experience in the moment and sharing it with the other person. a new we is developing. [if that other person also happens to be playing music with me in the moment that now allows for a whole new level of artistry and creativity to emerge…more on this in a later post.] for now, the idea is that there should be some sort of inter-subjective feeling that you and i, we are having, together, as a result of making music. without you and me, there’s no we!


finally, i use this word to identify the other big picture objectives

  • where am i? (practice room, band hall, my bedroom, a small coffee shop stage, a football field at halftime, a large theater stage, recording studio, etc.)
  • what time of day is it? when does it start and end? how long will it take to get there?
  • who is involved in making everything happen at the venue?
  • what basic needs and technological aspects are there? (water, food, parking, electricity, sound system, internet, Wi-Fi, lighting, props, etc.)
  • what’s the purpose of this performance?
  • who’s the audience?
  • what institutions or parts of society am i representing or which may have some influence over this performance? (TMEA, UIL, my class, my school, band boosters, my community, big or small businesses, donors, etc.)

all of these elements have some effect over the music. the more tied into, aware, and appreciative i am of these big picture elements the more likely the music will be rewarding, empowering, successful, and fun! [forget or neglect one or more, and things aren’t as sweet]

putting it all together

when it’s all going well, all four words are occurring in a healthy balance. i’m playing me, i’m putting all my skills in practice,  we are sharing and persuading in the moment, and the performance is happening as part of an inter-connected big picture.

so…the next time you pick up your instrument, or sit down at the drums or piano, take a moment to remind yourself to PLAY, PRACTICE, PERSUADE, AND PERFORM!

2 thoughts on “playing, practicing, persuading, or performing?

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