Practicing change

I have spent my professional career as a band director working with students on music preparation. One of the keystones to that work has been the fundamental skill of “Practicing like you want to perform”.

Students don’t come into a chorus or band class with an understanding of how to perform at the highest level. Many believe the old adage, “Practice makes perfect!”. This proverb is actually incorrect. If you practice something incorrectly, it will not magically become perfect. But, it will become permanent. It will become a habit, regardless of whether it is a good one or a bad one.

My task is to show them what a great performance looks and sounds like. Once they know what that looks like then I remind them repeatedly. Is that the way you want this to sound for the audience? Practice with the end result in mind. Make sure the repetitions are they way you want them because if things are repeated incorrectly long enough, they’ll set up like concrete.

So, how does this relate to an adult?

Here’s how this relates to us? We want to lose weight, or gain spiritual disciplines. But, our actions indicate that we think the weight will come off because we thought about it or our character will change just because we’re getting older. What have we done to facilitate change? Do we have habits that we need to jackhammer so that we can start building the foundation for something new?

Start here. Do you want to weigh less? Find out what people do who weigh less? How do they exercise? What kind of lifestyle do they live? Do you want to grow in godly character? How do people with this type of character start and end their day? What do they watch? What type of friends do they have?

You are developing a mental picture of what needs to happen. Now, you pick one thing and start to repeat it. In music we often will repeat things very slowly in order to get the correct notes. You are going to start small with something achievable and start repeating that action. Your success will fuel your confidence.

Don’t be discouraged

When we practice music, we sometimes get things right and sometimes wrong. The point is that we are pointed in the right direction and we’re trying to emulate a top notch performance. Shouldn’t our character and spiritual development have the same philosophy? We know what changes we’re aiming for. We are pointed that way. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes wrong. In both the musical situation and in personal development our failures are a step in the process. They don’t overwhelm us. We know where we’re headed.

In music I tell the students that we will continue to grow until we get to the concert. We can always improve. In life development we can have a similar mentality.

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