For years, I've made myself practice even when
I'm exhausted and feel too tired to concentrate effectively. Is there
a way to be productive in this state?
If you're exhausted, don't pretend you can achieve meaningful work -
take a nap. Going through the motions, although you are too tired to
concentrate effectively, may appease your conscience but wastes a lot
Try controlling your nap with an alarm clock set to awaken you after
1/2 hour. Find out if you are refreshed enough to practice meaningfully,
then. Manage your time and energy better tomorrow, but don't fool yourself
Often, as I'm practicing, I'm distracted by
unresolved problems of an emotional or practical nature. It's
as if I keep listing responsibilities over and over. How can I turn
off the distracting voice?
Rehearsing your list over and over reflects an anxiety that you may
forget something important. Use a pad which you keep on your music stand
or on your piano as a memory aid. When a distracting thought occurs,
stop playing and write it down. Make a plan to give it the attention
it demands later and write the time down. Use the information on your
list to improve your management of the rest of your day or week. If
that doesn't work, stop practicing and respect the urgency of the knock
on your mental door. Remember, you lose all battles with yourself. By
managing the problem, you can free the artist within.
Question: When I practice, I frequently
get into a state where I'm increasingly frustrated and my concentration
is diminishing. Is there a way out of this bind?
If you are not downright tired, frustration and diminishing concentration
are often a sign that the goals you have set are unattainable.
down the tempo until you do not experience physical or mental strain.
This alone will improve your concentration.
Second, try THE
TECHNIQUE OF SELECTIVE INATTENTION.
1 Ignore all but one of the problem areas. It is most profitable
to concentrate on the problem that is most out of balance first. Once
you've limited your attention to the possible, you can expect your
powers of concentration to return.
2 But, beware the voice of your "Interior Nasty."
Your IN will try to seduce you to return your attention to the other
areas that need work and still sound awful. Rather than pay attention
to the demands of your IN, focus more fully on the single problem
3 When you have increased control in one area, stop paying
attention to it and choose another problem on which to focus your
concentration. Do not be disappointed or surprised if you lose some
of the control you just gained.
4 Continue to cover each problem individually for 3 or
4 days. As you continue to select out all but one problem at a time,
you will find that the pieces begin to come together by themselves.