I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Personally, I had a great few days to recharge with my nearest and dearest, and we had a great few days here at Dojo HQ too.
If you did indulge in Thanksgiving festivities, I hope you didn't have too much dessert.
Now, I'm not talking about pumpkin pie or ice cream or Mom's special cake or whatever sweet treat of choice is – you should definitely overindulge in that!
Nope, I'm talking about dessert in the piping sense.
If you're thinking to yourself, "What on Earth is he on about now?", you're not alone, I'm sure. But bear with me...
Picture your typical piping session. What does that look like for you, particularly at this time of year? Do you only get your pipes out a few times a week – maybe even only once for band practice, if you actually turn up (I mean, it's cold out, right?).
And when you do practice, I'm willing to bet it mostly looks like – you spend a few minutes jamming out some old favorites, with all of the embellishments in, even if you know they're not exactly at a great standard, ‘just to get some air in the pipes’, then run through your band sets a few times, and finish up, a bit puffed but patting yourself on the back for a job well done.
Am I close?
Just like eating dessert isn't necessarily bad for you in moderation, jamming out tunes at full tempo while playing all the embellishments isn't either – sometimes, you just want to let loose, play your tunes and have some fun!
That's ok, and encouraged… but only in moderation, like any sweet treat.
Doing this all the time would be like eating cake and ice cream for every meal while trying to train to run a marathon. You’re undermining your progress by giving in to the lure of that delicious dessert quite a bit too often – and that's putting it very diplomatically!
For beginners and intermediates, you should treat embellishments, ‘expression’, lightning-fast tempos and 'reps' through tunes as the 'dessert' of a practice session. While they may be invigorating, fun, and make us feel like we’re a ‘real piper' to just go for it, if we insist on maintaining a strong ignorance to reality, 'faking it ‘till we make it' every time... what do you suppose the end result is going to look like?
I think you know the answer to that question. It may not always be ‘fun’... but you know by now from everything else in life that, in order to avoid failure down the line, you always have to ‘eat your vegetables’ before you can have dessert.
I encourage you, if you want to become a great musician, to have the willpower to fend off the siren call of ‘mindless jamming’ for at least a few minutes a day.
Before scarfing down dessert, you must mindfully practice the fundamentals for your own sake.
If you're a Dojo student, make sure you've worked your way through our 11 Commandments of Mastery course, and then start working on your fundamental skills each week as part of our Bagpipe Freedom program.
If you're not yet a Dojo Student, we'd love to welcome you! You can take the 11 Commandments course, which covers this concept and 10 other essential mindset shifts to prepare yourself for mastery, or explore our monthly membership options and join us as a student, where you can vary your repertoire in a guided way with hundreds of other pipers around the world cheering you on!