Each day this week, we’ll be sharing a practice tip from Scott Malyszka, a songwriter, fiddler, and founder of New Trail Coaching, a coaching service for artistic and creative people: http://www.newtrailcoaching.com

Tip #4: Step Away From The Woodshed

Here in Virginia, we call it “woodshedding” when a musician gets all focused in on some serious practicing over a few months.  It’s tough to figure out how much practice is enough, because there is never enough. We could always be better at the mechanics, given our physical and mental limits. Look at the titles of scale and exercise books, and you’d think that you were going to the gym.  Lots of stuff about “power” and “aerobics” and “speed.”  It’s funny, I can’t seem to find exercise books with titles like, “Build Color And Expression In Your Playing” or “Make Your Guitar Sing With Feeling.”  I do my share of macho woodshedding, and I can appreciate a juicy scale pattern as much as the next person.  But awareness, playfulness, and keeping music and art in mind can always be there with the technical stuff.

Heavy woodshedding can lead to physical strain. You want to play faster, so you just push your body through it, trying to get that muscle memory down.  Be careful, and listen to your body’s feedback.  When you go through physical repetitions mindlessly, you’re not going to notice fatigue and pain right away. Strain leads to injury and a cold, mechanical delivery.  Check out Julie Lyon-Lieberman’s book, “You Are Your Instrument,” to learn about how a musician can understand and care for the body.  If you have trouble taking breaks or listening to your body’s pain, you might want to spend some time with this book.

Great Practice Sessions

Great Practice Sessions – Tip #1: Put Down Your Instrument

Great Practice Sessions – Tip #2: You Are the Gear

Great Practice Sessions – Tip #3: Practice is Performance

Great Practice Sessions – Tip #4: Step Away from the Woodshed

Great Practice Sessions – Tip #5: Get Outside Your Head

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Photo of the band Youthbitch used by their kind permission. Check out their latest single HERE.