When I sit down to practice, a million thoughts flood the available space, and I usually just sit there for a few minutes staring blankly at the sticks. The conversation between myself sticks generally goes something like this…

Sticks: Hey man, you just sit gonna sit there all day, or we gonna get moving?

Me: I want to practice everything I know at once, and I can’t figure out where to start.

Sticks: Oh, great, Captain Decision Maker here is gonna wait for divine inspiration to get us MOVING!!!! C’mon, pal, THINK!

Me: Workin’ on it…

Sticks: Oh PLEASE!!!!!! Single strokes, slow, stretch the muscles… then double strokes, focus on playing quietly… triplets, focus on the weaker hand… ETC, ETC, ETC…

Me: Uhhh, thanks…

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A better way to go about it is to try something really simple, and lately, I really like doing this. I’ll pick a simple rudiment, or even something very basic like triplets, and I play them at a reasonable tempo for 60 seconds. I pretend I’m sitting in a studio making triple scale, doing a soundtrack for a multi-gazillion dollar movie, and there can be NO screwups.

Okay, a little extreme, but the idea came from doing double bass workouts. I’m admittedly working on getting into better shape with it, and a 60 second stretch is a really good way to build focus and precision.

This sounds like a very simple idea, and it is. Not all practice sessions have to go to the Calculus level. So give it a shot. Play a reasonably fast triplet for 60 seconds; around the 30 second mark, don’t wait for the next 30 seconds to countdown… instead, restart your mental clock, going UP.

Why? Because is you wait for the last 30 seconds to wind down, your CONCENTRATION will fade as well. Move it forward instead, and your mental energy gets a second wind.

It’s a very subtile difference, but if you give it a shot, you’ll discover that fine-line difference. It’s what pushes you beyond the everyday, ordinary… which is where you want your playing to go, now isn’t it?

Sticks: Hey, you done blogging, writer dude, ’cause it’s time to get BACK TO IT!!!!

Me: Be right there… gotta get some coffee…