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Musicians' quotes on practice

edited January 1 in Welcome Posts: 3,009

I don't know where I got this from, but hopefully I'm not gonna get in trouble for posting it.

The most crucial ingredient for success in music is what happens in the practice room.

William Westney

You've got to learn your instrument. Then you practice practice practice. And then when you finally get up there on the bandstand forget all that and just wail.

Charlie Parker

If I don't practice for a day I know it. If I don't practice for two days the critics know it. And if I don't practice for three days the public knows it.

Jascha Heifetz

Focus for a short period of time, in all the right ways. Then walk away and let it go.

Vicki Genfan

The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.

BB King

Practice is the best of all instructors.

Publilius Syrus

The most valuable practice aid is patience.

Howard Snell

It's important to practice at speed of no mistakes.

Lucinda Macworth Young

It's taken me all my life to learn what not to play.

Dizzy Gillespie

Learn to pursue what you need to practice, not just what you think you should practice.

Douglas Baldwin

Stage fright needs to be confronted and experienced in order to be conquered.

Eloise Ristad

Don't just memorize notes, memorize the feeling of the feeling of playing them.

Madeline Bruser

The wise musicians are those who play what they can master.

Duke Ellington

If you want to become a musician you must practice. There is no other way, there are no shortcuts.

Ron Ottley

If you hit a wrong note then make it right by what you play afterwards.

Joe Pass

Practicing is the process of taking a task that seems difficult and doing it repeatedly, over days and weeks until you are able to do it well and easily.

Ron Ottley

The difference between knowledge and skill is practice.

Holly Marie Simmers

Good listening is always the first step in the process that creates technique and capability

Howard Snell

The value of an exercise depends on your state of mind. If you don't find it interesting, then it is not useful.

Madeline Bruser

If a hard bit is giving you a hard time, you should give it a hard time.

Phillip Johnston

To study music we must learn the rules. To create music we must break them.

Nadia Boulanger

In learning you will teach and in teaching you will learn

Phill Collins

Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
BonesbillyshakesKlausUSrudolfo.christBill Da Costa WilliamsDjangoDiscipleTwangdjazzy


  • MatteoMatteo Sweden✭✭✭✭ JWC Modele Jazz, Lottonen "Selmer-Maccaferri"
    Posts: 382

    Some good ones there! I especially like what Ellington said. It reminds me of a professional jazz player who once said to me and some other amateurs that he'd rather listen to someone who might know just one tune but knows how to play it really well than listen someone who knows a bunch of tunes but doesn't play them so well.

    If I may add one quote, as a trumpet player I can really agree with Dizzy Gillespie on this:

    "Some days you get up and you put the horn to your chops and it sounds pretty good and you win. Some days you try and nothing works and the horn wins. This goes on and on and then you die, and the horn wins."

    BucobillyshakesBill Da Costa WilliamsLango-Django
  • Posts: 3,009

    Oh man, I wasn't prepared for the punch line in that quote. Such dark humor haha, damn. It's a good one. Thank you posting it. And any other quote anybody has would be great to read about.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • guitarmikeguitarmike Montreal, Quebec✭✭ Old French Gypsy Guitar
    Posts: 66

    I never practice my guitar. From time to time I just open the case and throw in a piece of raw meat.

    Wes Montgomery

  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    edited December 2020 Posts: 5,904

    @Buco wow, thanks for the inspiring collection of practice related anecdotes.

    I've always heard this one attributed to Jascha Heifetz

    If I don't practice for a day I know it. If I don't practice for two days the critics know it. And if I don't practice for three days the public knows it.

  • Posts: 74

    I should be practising.

  • billyshakesbillyshakes NoVA✭✭✭ Park Avance - Altamira M10
    Posts: 398
  • edited January 1 Posts: 3,009

    I like this from Steve van Zandt too:

    The old expression is 'the harder you work, the luckier you'll get,' and I think there's something there. In other words, when the opportunities present themselves, if you're not ready, it's irrelevant.

    It reminds me of a personal anecdote. At Django in June 2017, Andrew included Windows of Moscow song in the repertoire. I loved it, never heard of it before, beautiful song. Learned the head, the chords, it's ready. Got to DiJ and (as it often happens with obscure songs) nobody is calling it in any class. So in one, l ask. Nobody in the class knows the song, including the instructor. I kinda pleaded, like "man it's a beautiful tune and nobody is playing it". Instructor says "do you know the melody" and I say yes and he says "well go ahead and play it for us". Ric Molina volunteered to play rhythm even though he didn't know it either but it took one time through for him to pick it up. And we did it. And that was nice.

    Jump skip to DiJ 2018. Of course I didn't touch the song since the year prior, just not a popular tune in the States. Angelo is the star instructor. He was holding a question- answer workshop and of course I go. Towards the end he tells Dennis who was the host and interpreter, to play a few tunes. After a few Angelo asks Dennis to play, guess what...the Windows of Moscow. Dennis says "how about somebody from the audience?" And I'm sitting there feeling like an idiot, pissed at myself. Here is my chance to sit down with this living legend, the guy who I admire, his playing, his music, I listen to him all the time. And I don't know the song this time around. Nobody else in the room did. Adrian braved it and did it on the spot and did a good job. I left disappointed. Because I worked on this song and really had it, a year earlier.

    So in Steve's wise words: In other words, when the opportunities present themselves, if you're not ready, it's irrelevant.

    BonesBill Da Costa WilliamsWim GlennTwangdjazzy
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • cjlcjl
    Posts: 44

    Stage fright needs to be confronted and experienced in order to be conquered. 

    Eloise Ristad

    That's the only sensible thing I have ever seen written about stage fright ....

  • Not a musician, but a top performer nonetheless.

    It's not necessarily the amount of time you spend at practice that counts; it's what you put into the practice.

    Eric Lindros.

    This has been a guiding principle for me the older and longer I play. And my partner and I were discussing what she accomplished this year, both professionally and from her surfing, mainly focusing on the last. I told her that this is the year that she skipped needing another teacher to guide her by the hand and let her body and intuitions become her teacher. It is good to have mentors. It is good to leave them and come back at some point to perform with them. And it is good to let yourself and your own intuitions become your teacher in the practice room and beyond if you are finally ready to be honest with yourself.

    Happy New Year.

  • TwangTwang New
    Posts: 235

    What a brilliant thread! Really insightful and helpful. Here’s one I’ve used a couple of times on this forum:

    “Learn a little and use it a lot” Gonzalo Bergera

    This one is a little off topic but I’ve always liked it:

    ”music is the space in between the notes” Claude Debussy

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