How Much Work Is Enough For One Day?

Today I had a whole day to myself to work on music. My usual routine is about 3.5 hours of practicing. After finishing it, I was on YouTube and stumbled upon the following video:

After hearing Keith Jarrett’s award acceptance speach, I was fired up and ready to practice again! The trouble was, I had already run myself into the ground with my intense practicing.

I sat there thinking about Keith Jarrett spending 12 hours a day sequestered with his piano, kicking butt since age 2, and I started to feel woefully inadequate.

Then it hit me: I can only give what I can give. After a certain point, it’s impossible to do any productive practicing. For me, that point is around 4 hours of intense, focused drilling. And then I’m totally useless.

Some musicians do a lot more. Stories of Coltrane practicing are legendary. I read an interview with Christian McBride where he talked about coming home from a gig and practicing all night long. At this point in my life, 4 hours is about the best I can do, and I’m happy and thankful to have that time.

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