As a new day begins I mentally prepare myself for another practice session. Some musicians love to practice, but if we were all being honest I think most of us would admit there are days (ok, weeks) we wish we didn’t have to practice at all. Why? Well it’s hard. It takes considerable emotional and mental energy. Assuming that most musicians don’t have the luxury to practice all day, there’s the trick of balancing practice with other work, such as teaching other people how to practice (which can be equally draining!) But aside from music work, there are all the little things we all have to do to make life happen, like cleaning dishes, walking the dog, and paying bills.
I’ve given much thought to the ‘little things’ recently. On the one hand, they can be bothersome because they are never “done” the way my final paper in Philosophy 101 was “done". There will always be more practicing to do, more dishes to clean, and more bills to pay. On the other hand, it’s the little things that can give meaning and purpose to life: even the most menial tasks needs to get done. Or I suppose one could always just not do it and live the consequences. But I think we can all agree that when we accomplish little tasks - whether for ourself, or for a roommate, spouse, or child - the accomplishment infuses our life with a purpose, dignity and beauty (and their’s too!)
So what is the ‘pile of dishes’ or the ‘Bach E minor Partita’ on your agenda today that you do not feel inspired to do, and what will happen if that little thing is neglected? Perhaps nothing obvious. I know now from past experience that when I avoid practicing, I end up losing out on a great way to experience being human: knowing the dignity of good work I’ve been called to do.
So instead of grudging the practice and the pile of dishes, I am going to be thankful for this work - however menial or never-ending the task may seem - remembering that it gives my life purpose and dignity.