Practicing Play, Playing to Practice

playing_to_practiceToday I was presented with an interesting challenge which led to a possible epiphany. One of my mostly “online friends,” Kevin Hodgson, wrote a song last night, and today, asked if I was interested in coming up with some horn lines for it. It was a completely no pressure situation, but immediately the perfectionist in me started to come up with all kinds of excuses not to do it: I’m rusty; it’s not my style; it’s been a long time since I wrote anything; what about what I planned to practice?; etc. etc. etc. But since I’m working on getting my musical side going and working on not caring so much what others think, I said Sure, why not?

I had heard the song once or twice and started coming up with ideas in my head while I went about my day. Kevin sent the audio file and I figured I would use my “built in” #nerdlution practice time to work on it. When I got my horn out though, I was presented with an old road block. I was reluctant to work on the horn lines for Kevin’s song—something that seemed fun and interesting—because I felt like I should work on my fundamentals and technique. Right away I saw that doing the fun part, writing some horn lines and playing them, contributed to my goal of getting my trumpet chops in shape, while giving me an opportunity to work on other aspects of music.

Then it really hit me: so much of my trumpet life has been spent working on technique and repertoire that I’m “supposed to know,” that the fun, creative aspects of music often take a back seat. Even when practicing improvisation for jazz, I often get so hung up on following the chord changes and playing “the right notes” that I stop having fun being creative. Playing has become a chore.

So I let the technical studies slide today and spent a little time messing around with Kevin’s song. It’s only day two and I can already see (thanks to Kevin) that I’m going to have to practice having fun with my trumpet, just as much as I practice actually playing the trumpet.

(If it’s alright with Kevin, I’ll post the song once we get done with it.)