A concert pianist, who claimed to know more than 100 piano concertos from memory, once told me that competition winners have to lock themselves in a room and practise for hours on end before they will be ready to go on tour.
I don’t remember his exact words, but I do question the need to “lock themselves in a room.”
Practising is not so boring or tedious that you have to lock yourself in a room to accomplish the task. You do need to resist the temptation to stop practising though. I think that’s what he meant.
You don’t get paid to practice. You will miss out on a lot of activities, including the world around you. You have to be able to give up many things, including the temptation of interruption.
Everything becomes an interruption. Phone calls. Door bells. E-mail checks. Breaks for the loo. Tea breaks. Coffee breaks. Lunch breaks. Dinner breaks. It has been said that breaks are good. One must not practise without a break.
After my trip to Helsinki in November 2009, I decided to enter a self-induced piano marathon. I would practise as long as I could by liberating my diary of commitments. I stopped taking Dutch language lessons. I declined meal invitations. In spite of this, I could only manage a maximum of five hours piano practice. There were still too many interruptions and responsibilities in my life.
Just before Christmas, a computer programmer by day and pianist otherwise told me that 4 hours is a good target, if you have a full-time job. I should be able to do more. At university, I once clocked in 4 hours practising for my senior recital. I had the time but not the stamina then. Now I have the stamina but not the time.
I suppose the only way to clock in more practice time is to get into a regular routine and rhythm. Wake up early. Simplify all meals. Delegate all house chores. Switch off the telephone and the wireless Internet. Stop blogging. Stop writing.
Help! I need to lock myself in a room so no one else can enter and interrupt my practice. And I’d better do this before the seasons change and the (hopefully) warmer weather and (happy) sun tempt me outside.