“Oh should you now?”
We all have things that we know we’re supposed to do and don’t do with frequency. We should see the doctor regularly. We should exercise more and eat less. We should really write our grandma. We should really get to practicing.
The reality is that “shoulds” are little minefields in our brain. We plant them around everywhere and then get absent-minded about where they are. When we finally have to confront one, the temptation is to get upset because you now know what you should have done and did not – and the onus of it falls on you.
Getting past “should” is a life long struggle and as someone who is still working on it, I can say that it’s not easy but it is possible.
This can be done by removing the phrase “I should” from your vocabulary and replacing it with “I am”
(i.e. replacing “should” with “do”)
Adjusting your perception.
If you meet expatriates from the US who have been living in another country for a long time and not speaking their original language, occasionally they have a real disconnect when you speak English to them. This has happened to me on several occasions where I’ve met people who were frustrated at not remembering words in English and feel very disconnected in speaking it with people.
There’s a reason for this. They’re out of practice.
If you are a native English speaker in the US – you practice speaking and writing in the language every day.
The difference is you probably don’t think about it as “practice“.
You just think about part of it as your day. As something that you do naturally, you don’t think of it as work or drudgery. You feel comfortable enough in your use of it that when you are confronted with phrases or terms you’ve never heard before – you simply listen instead of freaking out and make sense of in in context. You pick up information and interact with it all day long.
If you doubt this, try the following: Take your current practice regimen and instead of practicing scales or chords or what have you, take out a dictionary and apply the same regimen to trying to expand your vocabulary. Unless you’re studying for the SATs or GREs, I bet you make it a day before it gets discarded entirely or doomed to the “should” bin.
If you make practicing just part of your regular day instead of something that has to be carved out of your schedule it will be easier to maintain.
Occasionally, I read articles with guitarists who claim that they never practice. It’s important to remember that anyone who is the topic of an article in a trade publication is generally going to be a professional musician with a rigorous performance schedule. If they don’t have time to practice – its only because they’re gigging too much and while they may not be “practicing” by a strict definition you can bet they’re keeping their chops up.
I have no idea if Scotty Anderson “practices” but based on hearing him play I imagine that he has a guitar in his hand most of the day and is either playing or working on things all of the time. Eddie Van Halen is another guy who may not identify what he does as practicing – but every interview I’ve read with him makes it seems like he has a guitar in his hands playing for hours every day. (It’s also worth noting that many people consider Van Halen their best album for songs and playing.)
When Jimmy Rosenberg was playing with Sinti at the ripe old age of 16 he was asked by a guitar magazine how he got that frighteningly good at that age and he said, “Well I practice/play 4-5 hours a day, and rehearse with Sinti 4-5 hours a day, and then we have concerts”.
If you have a problem committing to practicing, you could change your mindset to move past “practicing” as an event and instead concentrate on “doing” as a habit.
Think about how easy it is to gain a bad habit. Now think about how hard it can be to break that habit.
There are plenty of good habits that you probably have developed as well and maintaining a good habit requires very little work.
Again it’s about perception. If practicing is something you view as a chore it will be something that you are loathe to do. It’ll be much easier to practice if you can make it something you look forward to.
To quote Albert Ellis,
“Don’t should on yourself”.
I hope this helps! Thanks for dropping by!