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#1 Practice Makes Proficient
"Perfect" Makes Neurotic!

    If a teacher ever tells you the falsehood "Practice Makes Perfect" bring them a cookie cutter at the next lesson and ask them to autograph it. Practice Makes Perfect leads to unattainable expectations that will turn in to frustrated self-judgments and finally unfound the willpower to practice in the first place.  It is a dysfunctional and made-up idea that will disillusion and uninspired you?  If a lesson venue or teacher brandishes a sign with this phrase I think it's fair to say you should find a place that doesn't!

   How many of you have sat down to practice: you tinker around with a few ideas, hit a wall, feel unsure of what to do and give up?  It's not a curse - it just means you need to develop some practice methods.  It's not enough to be told to practice but practice makes perfect 2how to practice.  This is something many teachers don't explain.

   When you practice, your concern should be how you practice and then what you practice.  The how refers to the methods you employ to better break down material you are learning - more than just slowing down or repetition although those are important.    If you are practicing things poorly, you are likely spinning wheels and feeling no progress.  With that said, there is no "perfection" required - so there is no "all-or-nothing" about it.  But if you understand what you are trying to do, you learn to be much more patient.  Perhaps this is why many of my students initially recoil into guilt-ridden apoplexy when they make a mere mistake in a lesson.  Imagine if Thomas Edison acted similarly with each mistake he made while in the process of stealing Nikolai Tesla's inventions?

   If you have been moved by another musician or music that you want to learn an instrument - you were not moved by perfection I assure you but conviction or emotion!  So if you must be perfect please become a surgeon, a geological, meteorolgical or financial forecaster, a chef or even a mechanic - but egads...not a musician!

   Thoughts? Comments? Criticisms? I'm open to read your thoughts!