Finding Balance in Practice

Thanks to Christine Bougie for the comments and questions in Achieving Balance and Creative Teaching.  I answered them as best as I could and thought it was worth posting my response.

The questions:

Do you think it’s better to strive for balance in a single practice session or over a longer period – like a week or month or year?

Would it be more effective to just deep dive into Bergonzi patterns for a couple months and be out of balance for a while, so that the next couple months could be devoted to something different?

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Whenever we decide to pursue an activity or practice something specific (i.e. Bergonzi patterns), I think our intention is to put ourselves in balance.  The problem is recognizing when we’ve reached our threshold and how to fix it.

As you suggest, we can observe time management and balance on micro and macro levels.  The “time spent” axis on my bar graphs could represent hours, days or months!

Similarly, I think we have micro and macro thresholds.

There’s only so much time and energy we can dedicate to one task in a day (micro) before it wears us down mentally and physically.  This is easy to observe, manage and balance.  For example, we may be keen on practicing Bergonzi patterns, so we’ll strive to practice them exclusively for five hours a day.

Five hours a day is difficult to maintain; five hours a day exclusively on Bergonzi is even more difficult.  Our keenness may keep us motivated for a few days, but with this level of intensity, most of us would burn out sooner than later; our daily micro management is off balance.  So we adjust!  Maybe one hour a day is more reasonable.

But how long should we keep this up?  One month? Five months?  One year?

I no longer make long-term time commitments with my practicing.  The reason is because macro thresholds are more difficult to observe.  Suppose I commit to practicing Bergonzi patterns for one hour a day for five months.  What if I lose my keenness after two months?  I’ll want to stop, but I’ve made a commitment, which puts pressure on me not to stop.

To avoid this conflict, I follow two guidelines when dealing with practicing specific things over long periods of time.  First, I observe my keenness and try to keep it fresh every day and every week (micro).  Second, I strive to practice these things until I’m sick of them – until my keenness runs out.  To me, this means I’m off balance and need to make a change.

Keenness makes a good measure for our balance.  As I mentioned in the previous post, another measure could be the feeling of hitting a wall in our learning and development.  We should also be mindful of physical signs to prevent injury.

Back to your question: It’s not desirable to deep dive into Bergonzi patterns for a couple months and put ourselves out of balance intentionally. This routine would work only if you had a plan to put yourself back in balance!

Also, we all have different threshold levels.  The best advice I can give is to observe and manage balance on micro and macro levels.  If you can do this by yourself, that’s great!  This is also where a good, creative teacher can help.  They can give us a fresh, outside perspective and prevent us from accumulating bad habits.

I hope that answers your questions.  Thanks for the comments!

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