The Practice of Practice


My copy came this morning. When they’re doing things other than “avoiding” taxes or providing less-than-optimal working conditions for employees, or squeezing publishers they brilliantly provide next-day access to many of the greatest books in the world. “Brilliantly” is understatement. They relentlessly – as in – provide next-day access to many of the greatest books in the world. “They,” relentless providers, are Amazon.

The copy Amazon delivered this morning is The Practice of Practice, a recent book by Jonathan Harnum. Yes. It’s about practicing – a subject most everyone and anyone who makes music knows about through direct experience.
Because if you play a musical instrument you’ve practiced. If you teach how to play a musical instrument – as I do – it’s presumed you know even more about practicing–enough to prescribe “best practice” techniques.

Whatever practice may or may not be it’s about the only way we living things increase our ability to do anything. So, Charles Darwin? Is evolution anything other than practice?

I opened The Practice of Practice this morning and I read the first chapter–The Chicken or the Embryo– in the first part–What’s Goin’ On. If the rest of the book is as good as the opening chapter with its discussion of Zing-Zang Kuo, Prasad Upasani, Samskar, Sona Jabarteh

and Rex Martin … well …

Usually I try to begin the day at the piano. But today before going to the piano I’ll read more from The Practice of Practice.

There are other fabulous resources on practicing. Among them is Graham Fitch’s excellent Practicing the Piano website. There you’ll find his extraordinary Practicing the Piano e-books. Get them. Read them. What it comes down to understanding how we learn–and what we can do to optimise the processes through which we learn–it’s the essential stuff. To quote from my interview with a great jazz pianist:

You don’t learn to improvise – you improvise to learn.