“If what you’re playing in the practice room sounds perfect, it’s not practice” –Derek Siver (former student and teacher at Berklee College of Music)
I love this tid bit. It’s so true and unfortunately, what a lot of us choose not to realize… yet we question what happened to our progress.
When I was in elementary school, my parents interrupted my play time with friends to practice piano for 20-30 minutes–timer and everything. You’d think I’d be a very talented and disciplined pianist by now but 7 year old me did not take advantage of the much needed structure my parents provided. Of course, at that age I was upset to be stuck inside while my friends ran around the neighborhood pretending to be mythical creatures without me. So to speed up the painful 20 minutes of being chained to the Yamaha keyboard, I played the same songs that I knew by heart over and over again. Ya know, The Robot song, Jingle Bells, and whatever else was easy but fun to play.
The beneficial thing about that is I will remember how to play Jingle Bells until I’m 70–it’s embedded in my memory. The bad thing is that my piano career ended prematurely. Don’t laugh, but I plateaued at the age of 7! Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But think about it.
That happens whenever a person restricts them self by only playing what he or she is good at–how can you grow from that? Well, uh, you don’t. You can’t! You’re only good at that one thing you played over and over–that’s it. And that’s not even the worst part! In addition, you become uncomfortable whenever you’re bad at something because you’re not familiar to failing to gain progress and momentum in your learning.
If you can’t handle not being good at something, then by all means, continue to play what you’re already good at! Just know that you’re coasting aka plateaued.