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  • Writer's pictureWhitney Lee Moeller

Practice is a Lifelong Journey

One day I walked in for my horn lesson, cautiously opening the door, so as not to disturb the student inside. When I walked in, I was surprised to see my teacher alone, playing his trumpet, no student in sight. “What are you doing?” I asked, a little perplexed. “Just practicing,” he replied. “You still practice?” I asked with a laugh. I was young and naive. I looked up to my teacher so much that on some level I thought he didn’t need to spend hours picking apart his music the way I did mine.

It’s a tiny snapshot of a memory that holds a lot of significance to me. At that moment, I realized that I would never be “finished” practicing. I don’t know why it had never occurred to me before. As I pondered the idea, I realized that practice is not a means to an end. In fact, practice is a journey that leads to many different places. Sometimes we practice with a specific goal in mind, such as a specific role, position, or chair placement. But the journey doesn’t actually end there. In fact, those opportunities often lead to more music to learn, more challenges to overcome, and hopefully more opportunities for the future. What starts out as an intention to strengthen a specific skill or acquire a certain goal often leads to new passions and creative ideas. Even a “failed” audition is not necessarily a failure at all because great musicians know that every experience is an opportunity to learn and grow.

At that moment, I realized that I would never be “finished” practicing.

One of my darling singers had such an opportunity for growth this week when she was not selected for the senior high all state choir this fall. After making the junior high all state choir 3 years in a row, this could have been devastating. However, her maturity and work ethic spoke for itself when she said that she was ok with not making it this time, because she learned from it and will work harder next time. While I’m certainly thrilled for those that did make the choir, I’m also extremely proud of the way this student handled her disappointment. This kind of strength in adversity is what drives a musician to be really great. When the dust settles, we brush ourselves off and find some new music to start practicing.

Recently, I watched a student tiptoe into the studio and noticed the surprise on her face when she realized that the music playing was just me practicing, no other student around. I smiled, acknowledging the full circle moment. My hope for you, dear reader, is that you find a spark of inspiration today and pursue your practice with joy and passion. Practice is so much more than just a task to complete; it’s a lifelong journey.

Happy practicing, all.

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