||: practice :||, graduation, and jobs

It's November. It's here. The temperature is cooling, the leaves have changed and fallen off of the trees (unlike that pretty photo at left), and my pants are getting a bit tighter (eek!). This is the time of year that my motivation starts to wane and my practice time gets more and more infrequent. (and I exercise…never)

What isn't helping my motivation is my somewhat quiet performing schedule this year. While in 2011-12 I performed more than 40 recitals, this year I purposefully took it easy to finish up my doctoral degree requirements. Usually - over the past few years - I have concert deadlines with short preparation times. This time, those deadlines aren't really looming over me. So, I'm trying to combat my laziness this year with larger projects with more lead time. I've also decided to undertake some public accountability measures.

When I was dieting and losing weight a few years back, I found it helpful to post my weekly weigh in on Facebook. It was incredibly embarrassing (and those posts have since been deleted!) but it kept me motivated. Starting on Monday (tomorrow!) November 11, I'm going to publicly post - via Twitter, mostly - the number of hours I practiced each day and what - if anything - I accomplished. Here's how I think these Tweets will look:

@justindcellist: Todays ||: practice :|| time: 4 hours. Accomplished: memory work on B1, mvmt 3; Popper 28 pitch work; Carter mvmt 4 rhythm/pitch. #motivation #wwrrd

It's an experiment, but one I think will be useful. I have friends - in particular, trumpeter @louieeckhardt - who have begun journaling about their practice. I've tried long-form journaling in the past, but now, I want to do something different, something that will keep me accountable to my followers (shameless plug, follow me on Twitter) who will hopefully keep me honest. This micro-blogging will be fun to experiment with. Also, are Louie and I the only ones who have been using ||: practice :|| in our Tweets? Anyone else?! NO?! Start!!

Practice is what I have to look forward to for the next few months. My Great Britten: Suites for Cello recital project is coming down the tracks, but it's still far enough off that I'm not having heart palpitations. (and I'm sleeping through the night; always a good thing) What I do have to look forward to this year is graduation. If all goes as planned, I'll have my degree no later than August 2013. This is a little later than expected, but not much, and not long enough to really bother me. 

Graduation is an exciting prospect, but what excites me even more is the possibility of landing a college/university teaching position almost immediately. This year I've been teaching more college-aged students and consulting with colleagues about technique, musicality, playing posture, and the like. We used to do this a lot when I was in graduate school, but here at UGA, everyone is pretty isolated in their practice, as though self consciousness trumps progress. I'm hoping to change that mentality by both sharing what I know and accepting what my colleagues have to offer.

All of this knowledge and practice critique have proven to me that I pursued the correct path in my career: I enjoy teaching and connecting with cellists/chamber music groups at a high level. I love performing and sharing my music with audiences and I will always perform as much as I can, but teaching whets my penchant for cellistic and musical analysis. 

So, pardon my digression, I cannot wait to finish my degree and find that perfect job for me where I can share what I have learned over the past decade in my formal education. I've had outstanding teachers - most certainly my mentor, Rhonda Rider - and tremendous colleagues. These people have taught me so much. I can't wait to pass it all on, while continuing to learn from all of my new friends and collaborators and develop a fulfilling performing career that satiates my love of musical performance.

Wow. After that, I'm motivated to practice! Off I go!