Six months ago I took my flute out of the closet. It’s been with me since I was 12, but hadn’t been played for nearly 25 years. I was amazed at how much I remembered. Sure my technique was rusty and I fatigued easily, but it was encouraging to be able to play it at all!
I started lessons. I started practicing. And along the way amazing things have happened. Research shows that it takes 10,000 hours to become world class at something. At this stage of my life I don’t have 10,000 hours to devote to playing the flute! But I have one hour a day. And so here is the interesting question. What can I do in one hour a day to maximize my time? After all there is so much to learn.
My teacher, who is amazing I might add, gave me a practice schedule. 75% of my time is spent practicing scales and tone studies. While that may sound boring to you, what I discovered is that in every piece of music I want to play there are scales. And in every piece of music I want to play beautifully I must create beautiful sounds. Once I realized that, I began to love to practice scales and tone studies. In fact sometimes my hour is over and I haven’t gotten to the music!
In six months my progress is amazing. My technique has returned to where it was as a music student at Indiana University, and the sound….I have gained so much control of the instrument that when I play I can play from my heart. I can play what I feel. After all what is music but feeling which we express freely when we trust our technique.
I could end on that note and this blog would be all about me, and my flute. But the point I want to make is that in everyone’s work (or play), there is the equivalent to what scales are to a musician. Something that requires constant improvement in order to get more from your endeavor. It doesn’t matter if the thing you want to improve is related to work, an avocation, a sport, or a hobby. Finding the “scales” for that endeavor, and then allocating the majority of your “practice” time to that activity, will guarantee you get most for your time and effort.
Enjoy your “scales”!!