Getting back in the zone

Courtesy of Open Clip Art (http://openclipart.org). “Light Bulb On” and “Light Bulb Off” drawn by palomaironique; “Purple arrow shape” by Jeff Walden. Image arranged by Sakari Dixon.

Around last year this time (well technically, a few weeks later), I was going through the same thing–the crisis of realizing that the summer is leaving my procrastinating self behind. Even though there are still about two months of summer to go, I can’t help but dwell on the fact that I’ve let over a month go by, without much productivity to show for it. Epic fail.

Well, not exactly. For some odd reason, I have a weird, ambivalent philosophy on taking several weeks of a break each summer, away from any of my music, for the most part. I’m mainly for it because it gives me a moment of fresh air after the grueling spring months during the school year, and it seems to help me return to music with a new-found thirst. Yet, the little “voices” in the back of my head keep reminding me of how little practice has occupied my time right now, or composing, for that matter. Aside from that, the most difficult part of taking such a break is that it’s so hard to get back out of it, especially when I don’t have the luxury of making an escapade to a practice room or library right now.

Because I have a little less liberty with my schedule due to summer obligations, finding time to work in the hours I am usually most productive aren’t always feasible. Having a sloppy sleeping schedule (or lack of) doesn’t help either. (Why am I going to bed at 2 a.m. if I have no homework again? Wasn’t I begging for sleep two months ago?) In order to counteract this, I’ve learned that I have no choice to go back to a stricter routine–just because it’s summer doesn’t mean it’s anarchy.

I think that one way to help myself figure out how to to reach optimal productivity in my current work environment will be to keep a journal. I’ve tried this before with my practicing, but I didn’t really follow through as much as I had liked. During that time, I did, however, gain a better perspective on my practice habits, and I learned how to follow through with more well-rounded practice objectives instead of focusing on different pieces and exercises out of proportion. Perhaps I will incorporate this aspect of journaling into my blog on a regular basis, in one way or another.

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3 thoughts on “Getting back in the zone

  1. I completely understand what you mean, and I’ve been having similar “inner voices” telling me it’s time to pick up the slack and practice and compose a lot more than what I have so far. In summers past, that music break I give myself at the start of summer has always been very therapeutic. Depending on what arduous part-time summer job I’m working, it can even give me a greater desire to not just go back but even run back to music. This summer has been different, and in the last month I’ve found many pieces, performers, and books that have inspired me to go back. Just yesterday I saw a wonderful 4th of July concert that inspired me with renewed vigor and enthusiasm for both practicing and composing again. I feel it’s time to go back now, and now it’s not just because summer is waning. :)

    Maybe you could find some similar sort of inspiration? You could watch/listen to a great performance or go to an interesting sounding concert. Even reading something by someone (composer, performer, conductor, etc) you admire can sometimes create that spark.

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  2. Thanks for the advice Brittany!

    One thing I do enjoy about summer is the extra time I have to read for enjoyment. Some of the music-related books on my list right now are How equal temperament ruined harmony (and why you should care) by Ross W. Duffin and Musicophilia : tales of music and the brain by Oliver Sacks. I’m also planning on studying several scores in order to prepare for writing my next two pieces.

    Going to a great concert sure would be fun though. :)

    Sakari

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