Category Archives: Advice

12 Tips to Practicing–

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Why not start with a photo of Tsagaglalal, “She Who Watches,” who has been watching over her people from a basaltic cliff above the Columbia River, situated within Columbia Hills State Park, Wishram, WA. This amazing rock art, both pictograph and petroglyph–having lasted centuries. (But that story will be a different posting.)

Where to begin this electronic presence, this practice of digital writing?

When uncertainty strikes, I glance at a hand-written list my (then) 12 year old son, wrote-out for me (in his best cursive) on two small pages, torn from a yellow scratch pad– listing advice from musician Wynton Marsalis, in a kid-friendly video we checked-out from the library: “Tackling the Monster: Wynton on Practice,” [VHS] (1995).

In 1996 my son was practicing songs on his trumpet, as I was practicing the art of writing poems.  Wynton’s 12 Tips to Practicing made sense to me –across all the arts. (to read more about Wynton and his story, there’s an article published in The Education Digest, 1996, called WYNTONʼS 12 WAYS TO PRACTICE, FROM MUSIC TO SCHOOLWORK.)

My blog entries, when they do arrive, might explore one of Wynton’s 12 Tips.  Peruse this list, consider what they mean to you, today, perhaps– tomorrow?

12 Tips to Practicing— by Wynton Marsalis

1. Seek out private instruction

2. Write out a schedule

3. Set goals

4. Concentrate: on practicing

5. Relax and take time

6. Practice longer on harder songs 

7. Make every song like you’re singing 

8. Don’t be too hard on yourself

9. Donʼt show off

10. Think for yourself

11. Don’t complain

12. Look for connections to other things