I was giving a masterclass at a university one time, and I asked the students what problems they were facing. Most mentioned technical things--tonguing, for instance--while one student mentioned that he hated practicing. He just couldn’t find the motivation to practice, instead relying on inner talent apparently. I didn’t know how to answer him in that moment. I told him something vague, “That’s a common problem.”
My response should have been a clear and resounding, “Don’t become a professional musician.” (Of course, one could find non-performance related opportunities in the field.) As a performer in any genre, one must practice and rehearse. Professional classical music is really professional practicing--for every three hours we spend in rehearsal, we spend three days practicing (or more). We have to enjoy being on our instrument, most likely by ourselves. (Maybe some are lucky enough to be able to practice during rehearsals, but that tends to be unlikely.)
This is one of the very few common threads I hear again and again across genres and fields. It’s almost a golden rule for success: “enjoy the process” or “remain process-oriented.” For musicians, that means enjoy practicing and the preparation for events. For podcasters, it’s in interviewing and editing. For librarians, it’s the work getting the music on the stand. For composers and authors, it’s the writing. Of course, we get can ride on the super highs that come with great performances and achievements. At the end of the day, though, the real work in the arts is in the preparation for performances. The performances themselves are opportunities to enjoy the work that we’ve done. If you don’t enjoy the actual work of the field your in, it might be time to consider something else--something that gets you excited about the day-in-day-out work of it. Enjoying it every day isn’t mandatory, but doing it--because you know it will make you and perhaps the world a better place--is.