Baltasar Gracian on short practice
“How lovely it would be to practice all day, every day…”
It’s easy to romanticize long hours of dedicated study.
But most of us don’t have that sort of time. Or we don’t have the energy or mental bandwidth for marathon practices.
If we believe we “should” be practicing more, then our current practice seems inadequate or lacking.
But that’s not necessarily true. Shorter practices are in some ways even better than long ones.
Like exercise and food, there’s a “minimum effective dose” to practice. This is the point after which the benefits are slower in coming. The same amount of work yields fewer results.
As long as we touch on something repeatedly (daily is an ideal), each practice session can itself be short.
Deep learning happens while we sleep. So as long as we “input” information with a few moments of practice, we can reap the benefits of our natural learning systems.
This is why five minutes on scales every day is far better than an hour of scales once a week.
And for most, this is also more enjoyable. Instead of bludgeoning away at our music until our eyes glaze over, we can instead take a few considered passes at it then move on.
This way, we can touch on several things in one short practice. Reflecting back, we feel good because we know we’re moving ahead in many areas. But the overall time was short.
Another benefit of the short practice: better focus. When we allow only a limited time for our practice, we tend to value each moment more. We engage deeper, and this makes learning come more easily.
Like fancy finger food, we can sample a bit of this and a bit of that. We get our fill and stay interested. The whole affair seems light-hearted and fun. And we leave feeling energized and inspired to do it again tomorrow.
“Good things, when short, are twice as good.”