Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect

This week I’ve been spending a lot of time practicing a specific song – ‘Navigate’ by Band of Skulls. I remember attempting to learn this song about six years ago, and frustratingly giving up because the song was ‘too hard’. Now, after just one or two hours a day for a few days in a row, I’m playing it almost as if it was easy. This experience made me reflect on the activity that I have been participating in since I started playing violin at four years old.
Practicing can be the bane of many musicians’ existences, but every musician will agree that it is the core foundation of growth in your instrument. Practice can be associated with group sessions or rehearsals, but true practice is a solitary experience of pure focus on your technique, skills, and repertoire. It is where you will experience the most development in your craft, and is almost always extraordinarily rewarding.
However, practicing isn’t only for musicians. Whether you’re practicing a 3-point shot as a basketball player, drawing hands as an artist, or perfecting your pirouette as a dancer, practice is fundamentally the repetition or rehearsal of a specific skill. It’s benefits cross every border of talent or skill. One of the greatest pieces of advice I ever received in regards to practicing was from one of my professors at University. He told me that “practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent.” At first I wasn’t sure what he meant, but he went on to say that practice works primarily off of muscle memory. If you’re constantly repeating something wrong, your muscles will learn to repeat that action incorrectly. Think ‘quality, not quantity’.
With this consideration, we can suddenly apply this to every aspect of our lives. For example, if you’re struggling with confidence, you can practice self- appreciation by regularly acknowledging your accomplishments. With enough practice, this action will come so naturally to you that you won’t need to think about practicing it, because you will find yourself doing it automatically! Practice something as close to perfect as you can, and eventually your muscles will repeat it as close to perfectly as they can, whenever you need them to.

I hope you enjoy this clip of the fruits of my practice: a section from ‘Navigate’ by Band of Skulls.

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