Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Quality

This feels like a quality day. By which I mean that in my practicing, my running, and my life I am ready to focus on one thing at a time and put in the extra energy to do a great job.

This morning as I practiced, I didn't get through a ton of material. Nor did I need to - this is an off week gig-wise, and my final spring recital is still ten days away and I know the music pretty well by now. What I did focus on was sound and resonance. I went through my warmups very very slowly, paying careful attention to the resonance of the oboe, and worked to equalize the sounds and timbres of the individual notes and intervals. As I sped up the arpeggio and scale studies, I was careful to go no faster than I could manage, and sought a good sound over the whole range of the instrument with no "garbage" between the notes. Not particularly fun work, but important. I did the same thing in one of my recital pieces - inched my way through it with the goal of making the oboe sound consistent and good all the way through. It's important work which is easy to gloss over in the excitement of working on interpretation, and often gets bypassed when time is short and the quantity of music I need to learn is great.

When I ran, I didn't go particularly far - my 12-miler on Sunday really knocked me out, and I didn't need that kind of workout today. Instead, I ran 3 miles but focused on form, relaxation, ease, and speed - every few minutes I tried to press just a little faster while remaining easy, fluid, and comfortable.

Since I got my practicing and reed work done in the morning, I was able to really engage with Zoe this afternoon - instead of just letting her play with her toys as I worked I was able to get down on the floor and play with her. This is something I try to do every day, but frequently in the back of my mind there's something else pulling at me that I SHOULD be working on instead. Today I could give her quality attention. Also banana bread. We baked banana bread together and enjoyed it together while it was hot.

It frustrates me that I often feel too busy to give this kind of devoted attention to all of the things I do. I know how completely normal that is. Everyone's life is complicated and busy, and mine is not unusually so. But having a day like this is a great reminder of how to do it right - maybe as things get hectic again I can at least remember how this feels. And even for a few minutes in a busy day, I can focus on quality work and quality time to ground myself.

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