Monday, May 21, 2012

Switch It Up

My six-year-old son loves going to the local skateboard park and is enrolled in a weekly skateboard camp.  I realized early on I could either be a passive, bored observer, or get a skateboard of my own and join in on the fun, while establishing a common interest/hobby with my son.  At his camp I often eavesdrop on the instruction to get some useful tips for myself.

Last week they had the kids "riding switch".  This means that you reverse the feet so that you balance on the foot with which you regularly push, and vice versa.  When I tried it, I found that it was much  harder than it looked.  I instantly returned to feeling AND LOOKING like an absolute beginner.  It occurred to me that to learn this skill and thereby acquire better overall balance, I would need to "check my ego at the door", and not be afraid to look foolish for a period of time.

Music functions in exactly the same way.  It is necessary to switch up one's practice routine on a fairly regular basis, to avoid plateauing.  This keeps things interesting and stimulating, but certainly not painless.

After a successful five days of practicing the same things, I switched it up today.  I went from sounding OK to falling flat on my face.  It isn't an easy road, but it will lead to results.

Here is a snippet of my practicing, recorded on Sunday afternoon.  Using a set pattern, I made it through the Coltrane matrix in 12 keys, by memory, without faltering.  (The progression is included in my blog post from "Day One".)  I am pleased with this accomplishment, but because I can now do it, it is time to "up the ante" and move on to the next challenge.

For this week's new routine I added the following six, new patterns: (Click on the image to increase the size.)
For the first time, I am including some patterns that don't begin on the root of the chord (#s 8, 9 and 10).  I found these to be especially challenging on the first run-through.  I will begin with these tomorrow when I am "freshest".

Today, I almost felt like I was "back to square one".  It was a good mental challenge, and I look forward to conquering this exercise... just like I look forward to doing an ollie on my skateboard by summer's end.  :)

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